Shots fired at Haiti aid delivery

A UN peacekeeper sprays tear gas on Haitians fighting for aid at an old military airfield in Port au Prince (AFP)

UN troops have fired warning shots and sprayed tear gas on Haitian quake survivors after a food delivery to hundreds of them spiralled out of control in the capital.

The distribution of food, soybean oil, water and radios at a former military airfield began calmly on Saturday, with two long lines of people waiting patiently across the field, a photographer saw.

Brazilian troops missed small early scuffles for aid by many who had seen no help since the massive January 12 earthquake reduced their homes to rubble, and were eventually forced to resort to tear gas and firing into the air.

Nevertheless, as order broke down and crowds poured out of the lines, the peacekeepers finally abandoned a pile of radios and other aid for people to fight over, as they stood by.

It was unclear if the delivery by the World Food Programme and the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (Minustah) was finally completed. A spokeswoman for the UN Organisation for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs at its operations centre in Geneva said the incident appeared to be isolated, with little violence reported in Haiti.

"It's normal that there would be such isolated incidents due to exasperation and despair," the spokeswoman, Elisabeth Byrs said.

Minustah still had the overall situation with aid deliveries "under control", she added. "Such violence is not representative of the Haitian people, the population has been calm and dignified," in the wake of the quake, Byrs said.

 

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