Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Haiti aid effort hit by fake coupon scam

Updated on : Tuesday, February 9, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE: The struggling aid effort in Haiti was hit by another setback Monday as the UN halted deliveries to some 10,000 quake survivors after discovering that fake coupons were in operation.

An agitated crowd of around 100 people continued to wait well into the afternoon at the drop-off site close to the town hall in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville as others clamored to get tickets valid for Tuesday.

"We need food!" one old lady shouted at a guard charged with manning the steel bars blocking the entrance to the town hall offices. Others simply pointed to their mouths and stomachs.

UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman David Orr said the suspension would affect around 10,000 survivors of the massive January 12 earthquake that killed over 212,000 people and left an estimated one million people homeless.

The United Nations agency has set up 16 food distribution points across the city, handing out 25-kilogram (55-pound) sacks of rice designed to feed a family for two weeks.

Orr said WFP partners hoped to restart the distributions at the affected site on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Laura Silsby, the leader of a group of 10 American missionaries arrested at the Dominican border for trying to smuggle out a busload of children, appeared in court to answer kidnapping charges.

"I am trusting God to reveal all truths and that we will be released and exonerated of charges, and we are just waiting for the Haitian legal process to complete," Silsby said.

"It went very well," she told reporters as she left the hearing and was taken back to the police station where she and her nine colleagues from the Idaho-based New Life Children's Refuge are being held.

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