Haitian gang boss offers to help in earthquake relief efforts

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Haitian Gang Boss Offers To Help In Earthquake Relief Efforts Haitian Gang Boss Offers To Help In Earthquake Relief Efforts
A parishioner shouts during a mass on the grounds next to an earthquake-damaged church in Les Cayes, Haiti, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Evens Sanon and Marko Alvarez, Associated Press

A gang leader is offering a truce as well as help for communities in southwestern Haiti that were shattered by an earthquake.

It remained to be seen whether anything would come from Sunday’s offer by Jimmy Cherizier.

Mr Cherizier is far from the only gang leader in Haiti, and widely spread social media reports of a supposed earlier gang truce have failed to prevent attacks on the expanding relief effort.

The offer came as many Haitians returned to religious services in or outside damaged churches, sometimes for the first time since the magnitude 7.2 quake hit on August 14. Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency also raised the list of confirmed dead to 2,207.


Injured people lie at the Immaculee Conception hospital in Les Cayes (Matias Delacroix/AP)

Since the disaster, gangs have blocked roads, hijacked aid trucks and stolen supplies, forcing relief workers to transport supplies by helicopter. In places, desperate crowds have scuffled over bags of food.

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In a video posted on Facebook, Mr Cherizier addressed the hardest-hit parts of the Haiti’s southwestern peninsula, saying: “We want to tell them that the G9 Revolutionary Forces and allies, all for one and one for all, sympathise with their pain and sorrows.”

“The G9 Revolutionary Forces and allies … will participate in the relief by bringing them help. We invite all compatriots to show solidarity with the victims by trying to share what little there is with them.”

The increase in the death toll was the first since late on Wednesday, when the government had reported 2,189 fatalities.

The government said on Sunday that 344 people were still missing, 12,268 people were injured and nearly 53,000 houses were destroyed by the quake.

A field hospital erected in Les Cayes by the humanitarian group Samaritan’s Purse scheduled four surgeries on Sunday, the day after it opened.


People unload humanitarian aid from a US Army helicopter at the airport in Les Cayes (Matias Delacroix/AP)

Three of the 10 operating rooms that serve the region were not functioning after the earthquake, so the US-based group opened its hospital on the Haiti campus of Central American University.

The field hospital adds not only an operating room, but lab, pharmacy and X-ray capabilities.

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Even a week after the earthquake, helicopters ferried in four seriously injured patients from remote areas on Sunday.

People needing help also showed up at the public hospital across town. Space is at a premium and some are on beds outside the wards. If their injury is less serious they might be sitting on the ground on a square of cardboard.

Rousseau Hussein, a resident working in the emergency room, said the situation had calmed in the past week, but they continue to receive patients injured in the earthquake from outlying areas.

The hospital has been receiving support and at the moment had the supplies it needed to treat the cases he sees in the ER.

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