Coupon scam hits Haiti food aid

Distribution in Port-au-Prince suburb suspended after counterfeit vouchers found.

    Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reports on Haiti's
    'culture of corruption'

    Colour code

    Since one incident in which UN officials attempting to distribute food were overrun by survivors, the UN agency has introduced a coupon system, which means recipients have to get a specifically coloured and stamped coupon showing which site food can be picked up at and on which day.

    special report
    Special Report: Haiti earthquake

    These are fake coupons which started turning up ... yellow in colour," David Orr, the WFP spokesman, said.

    "The coupons we gave out for this particular site yesterday are green so it was immediately apparent to us that there was some fraud involved here."

    Orr said that WFP hoped to reopen the site in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville on Tuesday.

    However, about 100 Haitians continued to queue at the site. 

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

    Medical shipments

    The UN has threatened to cut off shipments of medicine after discovering that some private and public hospitals were charging, The Associated Press news agency reported.

    Medical treatmnent was made free following the earthquake on January 12 [AFP]
    After the catastrophic earthquake struck on January 12, authorities immediately decided to make all medical care free and millions of dollars worth of medicine has been donated.

    "The money is huge," Christophe Rerat of the Pan American Health Organization, the UN health agency in the region, was quoted as saying.

    He said that there was no need for hospitals to charge patients to pay their staff, because Haitian health ministry employees were being paid with donated money.

    With more than 500,000 peole living in makeshift camps across Port-au-Prince the situation remains dire for the survivors and their are fears that it will worsen as the rainy season begins.

    "We don't have $60 million to buy 100,000 tents," Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, the interior minister, said.

    Steady rains are expected to begin by the end of February and the hurricane season will start in June.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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