Haitians flee capital city for new life in countryside

Haitians flee capital city for new life in countryside

Saving the remains: Workers remove items from a hardware store in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Thursday. The owners of the store are trying to salvage their inventory  from looters. AP

All around Port-au-Prince there are crowds of Haitians queuing. Outside the US embassy they jostle to present their credentials in an almost certainly fruitless search for work. Wherever aid trucks are parked they line up, buckets at the ready, for water and food. At the UN building they gather in the hope of securing plastic sheets to turn into makeshift tents.

Now the streets of Port-au-Prince are witness to a new form of waiting, as Haitians in their thousands scramble to board buses to quit the stricken city. An exodus is under way. The initial monstrous shock of the earthquake, that left the 3 million residents of the capital dazed and paralysed, has faded, replaced by an urgent instinct to flee.

Fleets of buses laid on by the government have begun ferrying people free of charge out of Port-au-Prince and into the countryside, where food is more plentiful and shelter certain. The government plans to create refugee villages outside the crushed capital, each housing 10,000 survivors, up to a total of about 400,000.

Many thousands more homeless residents of the capital are heading east by bus, to the border of the Dominican Republic, aiming to cross into a happier nation.
At the ports there are similar scenes of people playing out their dreams of leaving. Scarce boats are overloaded, reports the Haiti Press Network, with refugees heading for Cuba, the Bahamas and Miami, while the US military is preparing its base in Guantanamo to receive up to 2,000.

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