The World Food Program said more than 250,000 ready-to-eat food rations had been distributed in Haiti by Tuesday, reaching only a fraction of the 3 million people thought to be in desperate need.
The WFP said it needs to deliver 100 million ready-to-eat rations in the next 30 days, but it only had 16 million meals in the pipeline.
Even as U.S. troops landed in Seahawk helicopters Tuesday on the manicured lawn of the ruined National Palace, the colossal efforts to help Haiti were proving inadequate because of the scale of the disaster. Expectations exceeded what money, will and military might have been able to achieve.
So far, international relief efforts have been unorganized, disjointed and insufficient to satisfy the great need. Doctors Without Borders says a plane carrying urgently needed surgical equipment and drugs has been turned away five times, even though the agency received advance authorization to land.
A statement from Partners in Health, co-founded by the deputy U.N. envoy to Haiti, Dr. Paul Farmer, said the group’s medical director estimated 20,000 people are dying each day who could be saved by surgery.
“TENS OF THOUSANDS OF EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS NEED EMERGENCY SURGICAL CARE NOW!!!!!” the group said in the statement. It did not describe the basis for that estimate.
The reasons are varied:
• Both national and international authorities suffered great losses in the quake, taking out many of the leaders best suited to organize a response.
• Woefully inadequate infrastructure and a near-complete failure in telephone and Internet communications have complicated efforts to reach millions of people forced from their homes.
• Fears of looting and violence have kept aid groups and governments from moving as quickly as they would like.
• Pre-existing poverty and malnutrition put some at risk even before the quake hit.
Governments have pledged nearly $1 billion in aid, and thousands of tons of food and medical supplies have been shipped. But much remains trapped in warehouses, or diverted to the neighboring Dominican Republic. Port-au-Prince’s nonfunctioning seaport and many impassable roads complicate efforts to get aid to the people.
Aid is being turned back from the single-runway airport, where the U.S. military has been criticized by some of poorly prioritizing flights. The U.S. Air Force said it had raised the facility’s daily capacity from 30 flights before the quake to 180 on Tuesday.