(MNN) — The humanitarian conditions in Haiti are the worst they've ever been, according
to Eva DeHart of For Haiti With Love.
"The roads are worse, getting around is worse, obstacles in
trying to help are worse… It is worse than it was 40 years ago," she said. And government inefficiency makes it very
difficult for relief organizations to help the people of Haiti.
Help is desperately needed: Haitians are still suffering severely as the
country has not yet recovered from last August's Hurricane Gustav.
"The needs basically are the same," DeHart said. "People are starving to death, they haven't
recouped the loss of their gardens and their animals and stuff from the
hurricane, and it's just really, really bad."
If another hurricane strikes Haiti this year, the dreadful
conditions "will just go from very bad to worse," DeHart said. Very little rebuilding or preparation for
hurricanes has taken place since last year.
The problems are compounded by the economic situation in the
United States. Many Haitians have relied upon support from
friends and relatives stateside, but life is becoming more difficult
financially for many of those friends and relatives.
Government inefficiency also compounds the situation, making
relief work very difficult. For Haiti
has been trying to get a container of beans and baby formula through customs
and into the country since January. At
this point, DeHart fears that by the time For Haiti gets the container out, the
food may be rotten.
"It seems like Haiti just keeps changing the rules
on the customs," DeHart explained. "Every time we think we're close to clearing the container, they want
another set of papers."
As a result, For Haiti can do nothing for the starving
people except buy a cereal grain called bulgur for them. Rice costs more than For Haiti can afford, and beans simply are not available in the country.
DeHart said the people understand the
challenges the ministry faces and the fact that their government has created
"They're getting bulgu, and that is just about all we can do
for them until we can get these containers free," DeHart said. "But we're asking them to continue praying,
because we need God's intervention to get that food out."
government wants to computerize its customs system, but they lack the
talent, the technology, and the infrastructure to do so. DeHart said that Haiti
has now hired an outside firm to clear shipments for customs before they leave Florida. This system is brand-new, however, so it
hasn't yet accomplished anything.
DeHart said that Americans should contact their members of
Congress and encourage them to pressure the Haitian government to remove obstacles
in the way of relief work.
"The United States
is showing some interest in Haiti,
and I think that their interest should start with helping the Americans who are
already in place trying to help down there," said DeHart. "If we want to help, we shouldn't be having
all of these obstacles. And I think
that's where our government could be of benefit."