Disaster Relief

LEOGANE, January 16, 2010 (AFP) – A first shipment of UN food aid arrived on Saturday in the ruined Haitian town of Leogane, where street after street of homes and businesses was torn apart by this week’s devastating earthquake. Just 17 kilometres (10 miles) west of the capital Port-au-Prince, Leogane was close to the epicentre of Tuesday’s quake and almost every structure, from the historic central church to seafront beer shacks, was damaged.

Thousands — no one yet knows how many — of people were killed. But with the international rescue effort concentrated in Haiti’s capital, Leogane’s people have so far been left to fend for themselves in ad hoc squatter camps.

On Saturday, Sri Lankan United Nations troops escorted in a single truck load of high energy biscuits for the World Food Programme, and small teams of international aid workers made their first forays to inspect the damage.

“It’s the very epicenter of the earthquake, and many, many thousands are dead,” said World Food Program spokesman David Orr, as peacekeepers raised the UN, Sri Lankan and Haitian banners for the television crews.

“Nearly every house was destroyed here. The military are talking about 20,000 to 30,000 dead,” he said, as WFP staff