Quake Survivors Protest at 'Bribes for Food Coupons'

Article excerpt

Byline: Kiran Randhawa

HUNDREDS of protesters marched through the streets of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince accusing officials of demanding bribes for donated food.

Aid workers joined the crowds of hungry demonstrators claiming desperately needed supplies were still not reaching them.

Many jogged along a main street in the capital's suburb of Petionville waving branches and chanting: "They stole the rice! They stole the rice!" Danka Tanzil, 17, said a local official was demanding a bribe in return for coupons that entitle people to bags of food from the UN World Food Program. She said: "To get the coupon, we must give 50 Haitian dollars ([pounds sterling]4.50) so we can get the rice."

People at small protests elsewhere had a simpler message, holding banners reading: "Help us, We're starving."

Foreign aid workers say adequate aid is arriving in Haiti but poor transport, corruption and bureaucracy are hampering distribution.

The World Food Program began distributing the coupons to bring order to the aid distribution and prevent strong young men from forcing themselves to the front of food lines. Aid officials say it has largely worked, despite scattered reports of abuses. …