Kenyan dead, six more missing in Haiti

January 16, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – One Kenyan has now been confirmed dead following the devastating earthquake in Haiti last Tuesday.

Friends of Niva Oduor in America said she worked as a volunteer for the United Nations in Port-au-Prince.

Her body was recovered from the ruins of the UN compound.

It’s understood that the Kenyan embassy in Washington had already been informed of the death and the news relayed to her family back here in Kenya.

Reports emanating from the US also indicate that six other Kenyans who also worked as volunteers for the UN remained unaccounted for.

Four days after Tuesday\\\’s catastrophic earthquake, the Haitian government has admitted it was no longer able to function properly as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to oversee relief efforts.

"People are hungry, thirsty. They are left on their own," said Leon Meleste, an Adventist sporting a white "New York" baseball cap.

"It is increasingly dangerous. The police doesn\\\’t exist, people are doing what they want."

The Haitian capital – insecure at the best of times – is now devoid of a functioning police force, bringing fears of a dystopian war of all against all in the wake of Tuesday\\\’s huge 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

"Men suddenly appeared with machetes to steal money," said Evelyne Buino, a young beautician, after a long night in a neighborhood not far from the ruined city center. "This is just the beginning."

"All the bandits of the city are now on the streets," a local policeman said standing near the city\\\’s collapsed jail, rifle at the ready. "They are robbing people. It is a big problem."

A vanguard of the 10,000 US troops being deployed to Haiti has taken control of the airport, clogged with tons of relief supplies, and has begun the first distribution of aid to quell the threat of violence.

Aid is also being distributed from the USS Carl Vinson, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier where 19 helicopters have been carrying out limited aid drops.

"We have lift, we have communications, we have some command and control, but we don\\\’t have much relief supplies to offer," said Rear Admiral Ted Branch aboard the Carl Vinson.

Clinton said she will travel to Haiti to see the earthquake relief efforts first hand, deliver more supplies and meet Haitian President Rene Preval.

"We will also be conveying very directly and personally to the Haitian people our long-term, unwavering support, solidarity and sympathies to reinforce President Obama\\\’s message that they are not facing this crisis alone," said Clinton.

The Haitian government is operating out of a police station at the airport, where Preval, looking exhausted with dark pockets under his eyes, said "the government has lost its capacity to function properly, but it has not collapsed."

In an interview with AFP, Preval praised the massive international relief effort but warned that the aid operation remains uncoordinated.

He said 74 planes from countries including the United States, France and Venezuela, had arrived at Port-au-Prince\\\’s overwhelmed airport in a single day.

As the Haitian leader struggles to piece together the remains of state, the country\\\’s destitute citizens are left trying to fill the void.

"Organise neighborhood committees to avoid chaos!" radio Metropole implored residents," to prevent people looting shops and houses."

Patricia Etique, a Swiss citizen who divides her time between Europe and Haiti, explained the dire predicament many Haitians faced.

"People had reserves for a few days, but now they are dwindling. They are afraid to go downtown in search of food because it has become too dangerous."

At the city\\\’s harbor late Friday, a swarm of small boats surrounded the first supply ship to arrive as it approached a crumbled pier with supplies from Jeremie, a Haitian town about 200 kilometers (130 miles) from Port-au-Prince.

Bananas will provide local residents with necessary food while coal will help boil water to avoid spread of disease.

Haitian officials said at least 50,000 people had been killed and 1.5 million left homeless in the Caribbean nation, one of the poorest countries in the world, which has long witnessed violence and bloodshed.

With food in such short supply, vendors were selling plates of pasta for 100 gourds (2.5 dollars), 10 times more than before the quake.

Kassana-Jean Chilove, a young mechanic who lost her daughter in the earthquake, expressed fury at the government.

"The government is bluffing us," she said. "There are millions of dollars pouring into Haiti but we see nothing."

The Haitian president called on his countrymen to show patience and defended the government against accusations of inaction.

"No one is alone in his situation. I understand that people suffer because they have relatives under the rubble, but they must understand that there are thousands of people in that very same situation," said Preval, adding that people underestimate the extent of the damage.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon is set to visit Haiti on Sunday as the world body appealed for 562 million dollars from donors. The UN mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was hit hard by the quake, with 37 of its 12,000 employees confirmed dead and some 330 still unaccounted for.

UN officials said the World Food Programme was now feeding around 8,000 people several times a day and hoped to feed roughly one million people within 15 days and two million people within a month.


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