Soldiers focus on feeding refugees
CITE SOLEIL, Haiti –— The sun hadn’t come up yet when the Army arrived here to drop off food and water Sunday, but the rumble of trucks brought the crowds running.
Cite Soleil is north of Port-au-Prince and wasn’t hit as hard by the Jan. 12 massive earthquake, but the U.N. and U.S. military are trying to push the aid out into the country beyond the capital city. Refugees from the city have moved this way, and the Haitian government has said it might set up camps in the area.
The Haitians seeking aid were quickly shuttled into a series of long lines: children on one side, adults on the other. They shuffle forward, scrunched together, with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them.
The kids get four packages of World Food Program biscuits, each of which has 450 calories. The adults are given humanitarian food rations that come much like a Meals, Ready to Eat. The lines go on for hours.
The Army gave out 2,000 humanitarian aid rations and 6,000 bottles of water Sunday. The UN gave out 10,000 bottles of water. They didn't have numbers on the biscuit packages.
The 82nd Airborne is working closely with the Brazilian U.N. soldiers in the area to deliver humanitarian aid in different places around the city each day.
“We were hoping word of mouth would let people know we’re here, but there’s not a lot of communication outside the neighborhoods here. The city blocks are pretty contained,” said Capt. Andrew Salmo, commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment out of Fort Bragg.
Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, head of the U.S. task force for Haiti relief, said Sunday that the military is moving beyond crisis mode and into a sustainment effort. Although the military cannot feed every person every day, Keen said, a plan will be in place by next week so that aid will be delivered in such a way that over each two-week period Haitians are getting enough to eat and drink