PORT-AU-PRINCE - With food, cash and medicine starting to flow, Haiti's government and aid workers are turning to the mammoth task of feeding and sheltering hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors still living in the capital's rubble-strewn streets and filthy tent cities.
As many as 1.5 million Haitians were made homeless by the Jan. 12 earthquake that rocked the small Caribbean country and devastated its capital of Port-au-Prince. They need food and water and many require medical care. Raw from aftershocks, some remain too traumatized to sleep under a roof.
The government said on Thursday 400,000 survivors would be moved to new villages to be built outside the ravaged coastal city, where the homeless huddle, cook and sleep amid decaying corpses and mounds of garbage.
Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said the first wave would move 100,000 refugees to tent villages of 10,000 each near the northern town of Croix Des Bouquets. Aid and food is moving into Port-au-Prince, but many still lack basic necessities 10 days after the magnitude 7 quake battered the Western Hemisphere's poorest country and killed up to 200,000 people.
We need shelter, showers. We don't have food or water. When it rains we have a lot of problems, said Iswick Theophin, a student who was living in one of the makeshift shelters carpeting the grounds of the city's golf grounds.
U.S. Navy helicopters ferried in boxes of water to distribute to Haitians lining behind cordons for two bottles each at the camp, one of several set up in the wrecked capital.
More than 13,000 U.S. military personnel are in Haiti and on 20 ships offshore, flying in supplies, evacuating the seriously wounded and protecting aid distribution points.
But for many people, life remained precarious.
At another camp in Port-au-Prince, a woman struggled to contain moans of pain as a student doctor bandaged her leg, which was badly injured in the earthquake. In the dirty tent where he worked, cooking pots bubbled and a dog slept just inches from the open wound.
Of course there is the risk of infection, said Alexi Guyto, 26. For the most part, we have lost the people who came with major traumas after the earthquake but we still have lots of head and other injuries.
The United Nations counted nearly 450 homeless encampments in Port-au-Prince alone and urged the government to begin consolidating them to streamline food distribution.
COMMERCE COMES TO LIFE
The focus turned to the business of living as rescuers wound down more than a week of searching for trapped survivors of last week's quake.
Small grocery shops and barber shops, as well as some pharmacies, began to open in Port-au-Prince, some extending credit to regular customers short of cash.
Banking services were to resume over the weekend, giving most Haitians their first access to cash since the quake hit.
The World Bank said it will waive payments on Haiti's $38 million debt for the next five years, while the IMF said its proposed $100 million loan for Haiti would be interest-free until late 2011 to help the country rebuild.
China offered more aid in the form of an extra $2.6 million in cash, on top of $4.4 million given in emergency supplies.
The United Nations is adding 2,000 troops and 1,500 police to its 9,000-member peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
The seaport in the capital Port-au-Prince had been repaired enough to reopen for limited aid shipments, and a Dutch naval vessel unloaded pallets of water, juice and long-life milk.
A U.S. military C-17 cargo plane carried out a second large airdrop this week of food and water supplies, this time inland at Mirebalais, northeast of Port-au-Prince. Supplies were also being flown in to Jacmel airstrip on the southern coast.
Progress is being made, said Jon Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization.
(Additional reporting by Catherine Bremer, Joseph Guyler Delva and Natuza Nery in Port-au-Prince, Lesley Wroughton and Adam Entous in Washington; writing by Patrick Markey and Doina Chiacu; editing by Mohammad Zargham)