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Continuing Coverage of Haiti Earthquake Aftermath

Aired January 14, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET




BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right now, we have to save as many lives as possible, and that means, more than anything else, we need water, food, first aid supplies, and shelter.

NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): I have spoken and suggested to President Obama, who I've been speaking to, that the United States, Brazil, Canada, and other countries take the initiative to set up a conference about the reconstruction and development of Haiti.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you.

MICHAELLE JEAN, CANADIAN GOVERNOR GENERAL: Now, more than ever, it is time for us to show our solidarity with the most vulnerable people in the Americas, our brothers and sisters in Haiti, whose courage is once again being so harshly tested.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, we focus on the desperate need and the global relief effort for Haiti.

Good evening. I'm Christiane Amanpour. Welcome to this program.

There are fears that the worst might still be to come in Haiti, aftershocks and landslides. Seismologists are saying that the energy released from Tuesday's earthquake was equivalent to a half-megaton nuclear bomb. The human catastrophe made worse by the fact that it struck so close to the Earth's surface, in a poor and densely populated capital that is Port-au-Prince.

The world is responding in a massive way. China was among the first to get a relief team into Haiti, with a 60-strong rescue squad. The U.S., Haiti's richest neighbor, is pledging $100 million, and its military is manning the airport. And aid is also pouring in from countries as far apart as Japan, Iceland and Russia, as you can see on this map here.

But so far, vital heavy equipment, such as diggers, haven't arrived, and people are clawing through the rubble with their bare hands. For the last few hours, CNN's Ivan Watson has been on the scene of one such desperate rescue operation. That's in Petionville, just outside the capital.

And Ivan joins us right now. We can see him via broadband Internet connection there.

Ivan, what is the latest with that child who's pinned there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, Christiane, this is Aneka Solere (ph), and she's 11 years old, and she's just a few feet away from me right now. You can see the -- the braids of her hair there. She's laying on her back, and her right leg is pinned under a piece of iron there.

And we have some volunteers here. We're trying to help her out. They've been giving her some water, some food, trying to give her maybe some anesthetic. She's been in pain. We're hearing her cry out from time to time. And they're trying to cut through a piece of iron here.

We spoke to her a little while ago. This is kind of heartbreaking, because this little girl is really trapped, Christiane. Let's take a look at this poor little girl, just one of countless cases similar to this all across this devastated city.

AMANPOUR: Ivan, what are they saying? Can they get her out? They don't have any of the heavy equipment right now, and I can see they're -- they're trying to do it by hand.

WATSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. There is no heavy equipment here. They found that she was still alive two days ago, but it's not until today that some Haitian civil defense people were able to come in. There is a medical student who just came within the last hour to try to provide some treatment, as well. But you can just really see, this is mostly volunteers who are here.

Meanwhile, the girl has been trapped for 48 hours. And we have seen similar cases like this in other locations in the city, another place where two little girls, French girls, were trapped underneath a building, and there was one single French fireman trying to dig to them and provide them water.

Meanwhile, there's a hotel very close to here where diplomats stayed and aid workers called the Montana Hotel, and we have seen dozens of American, French, Shalaian (ph) rescue teams all working there to rescue a few presumably foreign survivors who are still trapped in the rubble here.

But you can see people are very much improvising here, and there are also estimated another 30 people, probably dead, also under this building not far from poor little Aneka (ph).

AMANPOUR: And what is Aneka (ph) saying? Are you -- are they able to talk to her? And do they think they'll be able to get her out alive?

WATSON: Christiane, let's roll a little piece of video. We spoke with her just a little bit before in -- in French. Let's just take a look at this, this pretty young girl who's in such a devastating position.

OK, I'm afraid we don't have that video. When I spoke with her -- listen, when they start cutting at the iron, she would start screaming, "That's enough! That's enough!" in French.


I spoke with her a little bit. She's -- she's like, "I'm not in a good -- I'm not doing well right now," and it's really, really heartbreaking.

And this -- this young man here has been trying to help out for the last hour or two. His name is Charles Lumeni (ph). Can you tell us very quickly, what do you need to save her right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we just need a saw to cut the -- the piece of iron. And then as we ask it (inaudible) go to find some (inaudible) just to hold the building. And then once we do that, I mean, we just cut the piece of iron, just the piece of iron that we have to cut, once we cut it, we're going to move -- to move her out.

Because there were three of them, three children next to her. There were three inside, two of them. We just removed one of the -- a piece of the dead body. So we just need to remove the iron, and then that's it. That's it.

WATSON: Do you have any training in this kind of work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. We're just volunteers. We're just volunteers. And then I can say that the main person who was -- he went inside to cut the iron (inaudible) doesn't have any clue on this thing (inaudible) all of us who are just volunteers.

WATSON: Thank you, Charles.

So, you see, this is very much improvised, Christiane, and we're just going to keep monitoring the rescue effort for this young girl.

AMANPOUR: And we're going to -- we're going to stay with you, as well, and come back to you when you have something to report. And, obviously, wishing you lots of luck.

Obviously, people can be brought out alive, even many, many days after it. But the more time goes on, the more difficult it is. Haiti's beleaguered and homeless president and his diplomats all over the world are pleading for aid because the country cannot cope on its own.

And joining us now is Raymond Joseph, the Haitian ambassador to the United States.

Welcome to our program, Ambassador.

RAYMOND JOSEPH, HAITIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: Well, thank you for inviting me.

AMANPOUR: You saw that report. There's a little girl, Aneka (ph), among many, many in Haiti who need to be pulled out of that rubble. What is -- what do you need the most of right now? And when do you think the heavy equipment is going to get there?

JOSEPH: Well, what we need the most, first-time responders, search- and-rescue missions. And the -- since Haiti cannot get at its heavy equipment, because the country does have heavy equipment, which we've been using in road building and things like that...

AMANPOUR: Where is it?

JOSEPH: ... we have asked -- well, they're probably in outlying areas where they were working on roads.

AMANPOUR: And why can't you bring it in?

JOSEPH: And not -- not -- and not in Port-au-Prince. Because of the road system, all the debris on the roads. And that's the reason why we are asking the international community, especially the United States, that's coming in, I understand, with some troops, that they come with heavy equipment to clear the roads for us.

AMANPOUR: And what else do you need? Are you able to communicate now? I mean, obviously, it was really difficult in the first 24 hours. Do you have communications?

JOSEPH: Some communication now, and just about an hour ago, an official of the Voila Comcel Company -- that's the -- one of the three major telephone -- cellular telephone companies -- told me that about 75 percent of the calls of Voila Comcel have been cleared now. And so we expect...

AMANPOUR: So they're working?

JOSEPH: Well, at least Voila Comcel telephones are working. But we have also Digicel and Haitel (ph), two other companies that -- I don't know how well theirs are working.

AMANPOUR: We've heard from the president. We've heard from the prime minister. Have you heard from any other members of the government? We've heard that government buildings have been collapsed. Is the government -- most of the ministers, have you -- have you had any contact with them?

JOSEPH: I have not had any contact with any minister, not even my own minister of foreign affairs. I have had contacts with some officials that are government officials, but not at the level of ministers. And I understand that some people that used to work, interfaced with us, may have been killed in the collapse of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

AMANPOUR: And as you seek...

JOSEPH: It's a sad situation.

AMANPOUR: It is. As you seek -- as you seek more clarity, obviously, and more help, the U.S. is sending an expeditionary force, Marines are going in, others are going in, airborne troops are going in. What do you need them to do? I've heard you talk about the -- the problem with the roads. What do you need them to do first?

JOSEPH: Right now, they're doing the first things first: get water and food to those that are in need.


Secondly, we would like them to move out from just around Port-au- Prince and try to find others in southern part of the city who are trapped on the debris and see whether we can rescue them within the 48 hour limit, which is coming right now.

AMANPOUR: Are you satisfied...

JOSEPH: But...

AMANPOUR: ... with the level of help that's been pledged from around the world and what's getting there now?

JOSEPH: I am satisfied, but there is one big problem. The aid is coming now and getting to the Port-au-Prince airport. And it's not getting out, because of the road system. So we would like them to work very diligently in clearing the roads so that the aid that comes to the airport of Port-au-Prince can reach the people.

The other thing is that we seem to be having a little problem with an overcrowding of the airport. And that is due, probably, to the fact that the control tower fell, port control tower. But we understand that the U.S. -- especially the Defense Department -- was putting up an emergency control tower.

AMANPOUR: That's right. There is sort of a traffic jam above the Port-au-Prince airport. And it's, in any event, quite small, so you're right. A control tower is going to be very necessary.

I've also heard that some of the limited food supplies that do exist in country, they're being very careful about -- about even offering them out in case there are riots. Are you concerned about the possibility of -- of civil disorder and looting and riots?

JOSEPH: In situations like that when people are in despair and if they are hungry, riot situation is always a possibility. However, so far, I think the people have shown quite a bit of restraint. And I'm trying to tell -- they cannot hear me -- but I wish they continue to maintain their restraint and work in their communities-type organizations to help those who are in need and not to take advantage of a situation.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador...

JOSEPH: But you never know -- never know what people will do.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Joseph, thank you very much, indeed. And we have seen lots of Haitians rushing to do what they can to help their -- their fallen family members and fallen country members under the rubble, as we just reported at the beginning of this.

So we'll obviously continue to monitor this. And thank you for being on this program.

JOSEPH: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: When we return, even before this disaster, just about half of Haiti's children lived in poverty and squalor. UNICEF's executive director, Ann Veneman, will join us next.



AMANPOUR: That's another snapshot of the search for survivors. We saw earlier in the program Ivan Watson looking at how a group of Haitian volunteers, really, from the civil defense are trying to get a young girl out. A lot of worry about the children there.

And joining me now is Ann Veneman, the executive director of UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.

Welcome. Thank you for joining us.


AMANPOUR: As I said to the ambassador, you know, even before this, Haiti was so poor, half the kids live in a terrible state of squalor and poverty. What do you know about what's happening to the children right now?

VENEMAN: Well, as you say, it's a very difficult situation in Haiti. It's a country that's the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Fifty percent of the children don't go to school. Children are living in poverty. People don't have access to basic services. Only about a third of the population has access to clean water under normal circumstances, and now in the emergency, food, clean water, access is so critical to these populations to allow them to survive.

AMANPOUR: What is UNICEF doing? What have you directed your agency to do?

VENEMAN: Well, certainly, the search-and-rescue is first and foremost, but people need basic necessities. They need food. They need water. UNICEF is bringing in a lot of supply -- water containers, water purification tablets, tents, big -- you know, large tents that can be used for temporary health care centers, temporary schools, so that you can begin to deploy resources where they're needed.

So these are the kinds of supplies that UNICEF is bringing in. We'll also be working on the protection of children to make sure those children who may have been separated from their families then are identified and aren't being allowed to move, because you worry about trafficking of children.

AMANPOUR: Even under these circumstances?

VENEMAN: Yes, it's in these emergency circumstances where a child could be plucked off the street and trafficked or taken away. And so one of the things we advocate for is to make sure that children are identified, that they're put in a safe place, and then people begin to track their family members so that they cannot suddenly disappear from the scene.

AMANPOUR: This was a big problem in the tsunami, I remember.

VENEMAN: Tsunami, even in Katrina, that we saw, the -- the children that were separated from family members and parents.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you. A lot of the social networking are putting up pictures of kids and, among others, missing family members. Is that the right thing to do? Could that lead to predators?

VENEMAN: Well, it has to be used carefully when it comes to children. But it has been used. It has been a way to help families find children, to help people find their loved ones, and it's a very important tool throughout this.

AMANPOUR: You know, when we talk about the aid -- and you've talked about what you're sending in -- we heard Ambassador Joseph said aid is coming, but it's not able to be distributed because of the broken roads, because of the broken port, because of the logjam.

We have a sound bite from President Clinton, who obviously is tasked with the United Nations effort in Haiti, and this is what he told us about some of the aid lessons learned from the tsunami five years ago.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I think what -- what we learned was -- for example, let me give you an example in the tsunami, where I worked hard for two years. We had a wonderful Diaspora group from Sri Lanka that immediately wanted to send supplies, because they knew people had lost everything in the tsunami. But they sent the supplies before we had the infrastructure, the logistics build up to distribute them, and a lot of those supplies were just lost on the tarmac at the Colombo airport in the tsunami.


AMANPOUR: Now, it may be a little bit too early to talk about that, because they haven't even got out yet, but are you concerned about this sort of logjam of supplies before there's an infrastructure?

VENEMAN: Absolutely. And I think President Clinton very strongly makes the point that if people want to help, the best thing they can do is to send money, send cash to organizations that are doing a coordinated effort, because they are going to bring in the things that are most desperately needed. It's food, it's water, it's shelter.

AMANPOUR: So many times people send old clothes, they send medical equipment, they send medicines. I've been in many of these disaster zones where -- I mean, warehouses are being filled with expired medicines, for instance. What is the -- the lessons learned from that?

VENEMAN: Well, again, I think these lessons learned as that these are the kinds of things where, if -- there needs to be a coordinated effort.


Agencies who have worked in relief for many years know what's needed and they know what's needed most immediately. And that, again, is -- is medicine, but certain kinds of medicine. It's food. It's water and water purification. And those are the kinds of things that are deployed. They're already in the region. It's a matter of now getting them into Haiti.

So we had prepositioned supplies for any disaster, as most aid organizations do.

AMANPOUR: And are you in communications with your people there?

VENEMAN: We are, but it's difficult. The -- most of the phone lines are down. Most of the cell phones are not working. We're using sat phones, and only a few have those. So it's very difficult communication now. Most of the United Nations is working out of the MINUSTAH, the U.N. complex near the airport. But as you know, the main U.N. complex is completely destroyed, and as many as 100 people are missing still.

AMANPOUR: Do you have any confirmation, an update on, for instance, the head of the U.N. mission?

VENEMAN: We don't. Of course, he hasn't yet been found, nor has the deputy head of the U.N. mission. This is a great concern, but -- and we are still awaiting word.

Fortunately, there was one person today that miraculously was -- was pulled out alive in that building, so that's a hopeful sign, but there are still as many as 100 people in that building.

AMANPOUR: And are all your people accounted for?

VENEMAN: We believe most of our people are accounted for. We think they are. It is very difficult, again, to get in touch with people. They're dealing with their own personal tragedies. They've lost their own homes. You know, they're looking for their own family members. They're, you know, dealing with tragedy.

Even some of our international employees within the U.N. system have lost family members either in the hotel, the Montana Hotel that collapsed, or in this MINUSTAH building.

AMANPOUR: Can I ask you a bit about long term? I mean, it's clear -- many people have said that this was a catastrophe waiting to happen. America is on the doorstep, the richest country in the world on the doorstep and the closest neighbor to one of the poorest countries in the world. A lot of people are talking about, you know, this is going to take a 10-year reconstruction effort, and the whole idea of development is being rethought.

What do you think needs to happen on a long-term basis in a place like Haiti?

VENEMAN: Well, I think certainly this is an opportunity to rebuild, again, from the ground up. But, you know, Haiti's had a very difficult time with basic infrastructure. I was there in 2008. I mean, the roads are difficult as it is, let alone now when there's rubble all over them. As I said, only about 50 percent of the children go to school. It's a very, very impoverished country. It needs long-term development, and it needs good, strong government.

AMANPOUR: You've been there. You've been to Cite Soleil. I've been to Cite Soleil. I mean, it's basically a slum where thousands of people live basically on raw sewage. That's essentially what their life is. Do you think there's a moral obligation for the West, for the United States, to finally take this little country and make it something that's a civilized and decent place to be able to live for those people?

VENEMAN: Well, again, I think there has been a lot of aid that goes into Haiti. There is a huge need in this country -- there's a need for building basic infrastructure of, you know, everything from basic services to government. I mean, how did we train people to actually give government services so that it can be sustainable over the long term?

You heard the ambassador just say that, you know, they haven't heard from many ministers. What little government there is, is unaccounted for at this point.

AMANPOUR: And on that point, we're going to go to a break. But it's very interesting, because the president of France is now calling for an international conference on rebuilding, reconstructing, and developing Haiti, so we'll be monitoring that in the future, too.

But when we come back, our "Post-Script," we'll tell you how some people are looking for missing family and friends in Haiti.



AMANPOUR: And now our "Post-Script." You may know CNN's iReport as a place to submit news, but people with missing family and friends in Haiti are now using it to look for earthquake victims, and that's with CNN's help.

One family has posted a picture of a young child, Toto (ph), who's still unaccounted for.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We fear the worst, but hope that someone can give us any information. If you have any information on Toto (ph) or his mother, please contact us.


AMANPOUR: Toto (ph) is just 12 years old. Another woman is looking for her sister's family, including her niece and nephew. And Jaclean (ph) is looking for Auguta Telvil (ph), who's 83 years old. Her family has posted her address on iReport, hoping that someone will check up on her.

And Benson Vilnes' (ph) wife has been looking for her husband. He's on the right in this picture. The search did end successfully, we can say. CNN can confirm that he has been found alive.

All of this, of course, shows how the Internet and social networking are being used to help people right now. And to find out more, go to our Web site,

That's it for now. We'll be back tomorrow. For all of us here, goodbye from New York.