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Judge Hanna threatens storm detainees with watery death

Aerial view of the damages by flooded in the city port of Port Spain close to city of Gonaives some 200 kilometres north of Port Au Prince on September 08, 2008. Hurricane Ike assaulted Cuba on Monday with torrential rain and gale-force winds, demolisshing houses, crushing crops and threatening Havana after killing 61 people in Haiti, where a series of vicious storms has triggered a humanitarian crisis. Photo courtesy AFP.

101 dead found in Gonaives since Monday
One hundred and one dead bodies have been found since Monday in Gonaives, the Haitian city hardest hit by Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike, Vicky Delore-Ndjeuga, a spokesman for the UN Mission in Haiti, told AFP. "As the floodwaters recede, we found three more bodies in the city," he said. "The total is now 101 dead," he said. "If we don't find a way to deliver massive humanitarian aid, we will see fights and riots that will kill more people than the cyclone did," he warned. Gonaives was flooded when Tropical Storm Hanna lashed the low-lying northern city surrounded by deforested hillsides at the start of September. Four major storms, two of them hurricanes, have struck Haiti in less than four weeks. All told more than 600 Haitians have died, and the disaster is still unfolding due to the challenge of delivering aid in the impoverished and waterlogged Caribbean country. "We estimate that 800,000 people are in urgent need of humanitarian aide in Haiti," a spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in Geneva Tuesday, adding that almost half of them were children.
by Staff Writers
Gonaives, Haiti (AFP) Sept 9, 2008
Screams came from the darkened cells, and desperate hands poked through the bars of the police jail where inmates nearly suffered death by drowning with Tropical Storm Hanna as their judge.

"If you work for human rights, give us food, we are hungry," shouted one voice inside the jail in the stricken Haitian city of Gonaives where four major storms in four weeks have killed hundreds of people.

The prisoners ate "the day before yesterday," according to Adeleth Adelson, the chief at the police station. In a city with 250,000 stricken inhabitants permanently wading in muddy water up to their knees, many without food and water, some may say the prisoners were not the worst off.

Haiti has endured tropical storms Fay and Hanna, and hurricanes Gustav and Ike, in less than a month. Hanna's direct hit on Gonaives last week was the terrifying peak of the suffering.

Pakistani soldiers from the UN peacekeeping force sat at the doors of the jail and on the roof, standing guard, as the prisoners were allowed to tell their stories.

"We are dying of hunger. There is no water. We have not washed for a month," said one young detainee, Wilbert. "It stinks in here, you can smell it. We are all going to be sick."

There are pools of urine and piles of feces in the corner of the cells. There is a deadly stench in the air.

The police guide said that the sceptic pit had overflowed because of the hurricane floods and that waste had flowed into the cells.

According to humanitarian sources, two inmates at the Gonaives jail have died from tuberculosis since Hanna passed through.

Inmates told how they watched the water dangerously rise in their cells on the night of the storm, September 1. "They did not want to let us out, but we forced the bars with our hands and arms and climbed up on the roofs," said one of the 220 inmates.

The police say they did let the prisoners out.

"It is not easy," said the town's chief of police, Ernst Dorfeuille, who said the 50 police in Gonaives had been besieged by the disaster.

"Normally this is not meant to be a prison, just a centre for interim detentions," Dorfeuille told AFP. "This problem has been going on for four years."

In 2004, when there was a popular uprising against Haiti's President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Gonaives' prison was burned down.

Toussenel Chery, a member of the human rights team for the UN force in Haiti, MINUSTAH, said all the detainees in the police jail should be freed because of the crisis the city is going through.

"I think anyone who has gone through this has already served a heavy sentence," said Chery.

Even outside the police station the situation is desperate. Dozens of homeless and lost people are waiting in the muddy square for a chance to be able to sleep in the police station.

In streets across the centre of Gonaives, each day scores of people fight through the sludge looking for a place where they can spend the night.

Across Haiti, more than 600 people have died in the storms.

Bridges have been swept away so relief supplies have not been able to get through to the worst hit towns like Gonaives, where in places the water is still more than a metre (3.3 feet) deep.

And through this one pregnant woman walked, following the carcass of a cow floating in the filthy liquid. A couple and their children watched from the safety of a nearby roof.

Lightning erupted in the hills around Gonaives, leaving everyone to fear another night of rain, a leftover from Hurricane Ike's visit this week. Another 66 people have been reported dead from Ike and the toll rises every day.

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TSF Deploys To Haiti For Gustav And Hanna Relief
Pau, France (SPX) Sep 09, 2008
Following the devastating courses of hurricanes Gustav and Hanna in the Caribbean, Telecoms Sans Frontieres deployed Wednesday a team of emergency telecommunications specialist to Haiti. The crew landed in Gona´ves, a city in the North seriously affected by the heavy rains and winds of the successive Hurricanes.

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