Supply issues hamper Haiti aid effort

21 January 2010

21 January 2010 | Jake Kanter

Supply problems are stopping aid reaching some of the hardest hit areas of Haiti.

Relief groups have complained that deliveries of urgent medical equipment and other essential provisions have been delayed because of poor access for cargo ships and freight aircraft.

Port-au-Prince harbour was badly damaged during the quake last week, preventing large tankers accessing the mainland. Meanwhile, the country's one airport is working at full capacity and there is reportedly poor storage for aid supplies.

Medical relief group Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said aircraft transporting 12 tonnes of cargo were turned away yesterday because of congestion.

Furthermore, Oxfam said relief efforts and water distribution were being hampered by fuel shortages and communication problems.

"We've not been able to get the equipment we need in the hospital because of these delivery problems," said Paul McMaster, a surgeon for MSF in Port-au-Prince.

Red Cross said it has deployed 17 specialist emergency response units from around the world, including logistics, IT and telecoms experts. Because of the problems at Port-au-Prince airport, the aid agency has established a logistics centre in neighbouring Dominican Republic and is transporting supplies into Haiti by lorry. Other groups are taking similar action.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is working with the US government and other officials to ease congestion at the airport. It has also established four hubs to deliver food across the capital and 30 other locations in the country. Over the next week, WFP aims to supply around 10 million ready-to-eat meals.

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