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Homeless Haitians Denied Aid and Services

(AP Photo/Francois Mori)
John Bentley is a CBS News digital journalist based in New York.


Aftershocks continue to rattle this already fragile city, with a 4.7 magnitude tremor striking at around 1:30am this morning, followed about a half hour later by a milder quake. While there have been no immediate reports of significant damage or more deaths, the aftershocks send people streaming out of their homes and into the streets, worried about the consequences of yet another major disaster.

Millions of people lost their homes in the initial earthquake on January 12th, and the Haitian government estimates that 700,000 people are now living in tents.

While President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive have been vilified by many Haitians here for their lack of leadership in the weeks after the quake, Bellerive has allegedly adopted a new tactic for moving people out of the tent cities - denying aid and garbage services to the 2,500 people who are living on the grounds of his office.

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"They stopped all the aid from coming in," said Yonel Fivelen, who lives in a small tent here. "They want for all the people to leave here, so the family of the policemen can stay here."

The police even dragged and beat a woman who was trying to clean up the area, according to numerous residents of the tent city.

"I asked the police for a mask, because of the smell," said Dalida Jeanty through a translator. She asked another policeman for a mask, "but he got angry and dragged me down the stairs, ripping of my shirt."

Jeanty said several of the people in the camp then intervened, helping her get away from the police. When CBS News tried to ask the policeman about the incident, he got in a car and drove away.

The residents say they are being forced out, pointing to five foot tall mounds of garbage that have piled up around the area, and four portable toilets for more than 2,000 people that haven't been cleaned in weeks.

But like hundreds of thousands of others here, moving from this spot is not a realistic option, because for now they have no place to go.

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