1. Home
  2. Americas
  3. Haiti

Bottlenecks slow aid delivery

A women covers her mouth as she walks past quake debris UN Photo/Marco Dormino
Haiti’s tiny international airport has been overwhelmed by the international response to the earthquake disaster, clogging up the emergency effort, according to aid workers.

“The airport in Port-au-Prince does not have the capacity to handle so many aircraft,” Juan Carlos Porcella, the head of the civil aviation authority in neigbouring Dominican Republic told IRIN. “You have planes sitting for hours on the runway. No one wants to take responsibility to unload.”

The Haitian and Dominican governments are planning an alternative 130km humanitarian road corridor to deliver relief supplies from the Dominican southern town of Barahona to Port-au-Prince, to be secured by UN peacekeepers.

“The Haitian airport now is overwhelmed,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet.

The US government stepped in to help at the overstretched airport on 15 January by taking control and allowing in only humanitarian flights.

While some 180 tons of food aid had arrived by 15 January, getting the supplies out of the airport and into the hands of the needy has been a major hurdle, according to Kim Bolduc, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti.

“You have no idea the state of the roads...The traffic is dense. We may need to change the time of [food] distribution,” she said. While main roads are reportedly open, secondary roads are still blocked.

On 16 January the World Food Programme provided an estimated 39,000 people with high energy biscuits, water purification tablets and water containers. It could reach only 9,000 on 14 January.

The government estimates three million people lived in the areas hit by the 12 January earthquake.

When asked about criticisms that relief has been slow to get to the people, the UN's Bolduc replied: “Before the earthquake, Haiti was already a fragile state, and now almost everything has stopped [working]. The government is doing its best.”

Local media reported that 27 out of 30 senators died in the quake, and half of the national police force has not been located, along with their equipment.

Share this article

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.