GENEVA (AP) — A U.N. humanitarian official is describing the relief situation in Haiti as "a logistical nightmare."
Even in the best of times, Haiti presents unique logistical challenges for aid workers. Haiti shares an island with the Dominican Republic, so aid must either arrive by boat or be flown in.
Virtually all the essentials have to be imported, including wood for temporary shelters, because people have cut down most of Haiti's forests for cooking fuel. From the air, a U.N. official says the scene is "striking," with half of the island green and the rest dust.
Haiti's airport is capable of handling the relief flights. But they're running out of room on the ground for the planes and there's limited fuel for the ones trying to leave. And aid organizations say there does not appear to be anyone coordinating distribution of relief supplies at the airport in Port-au-Prince.
Aid can be shipped overland from the Dominican Republic, but the road to Port-au-Prince is narrow and easily clogged.
Making matters worse, Haiti is still recovering from damage caused by a series of severe hurricanes, the most recent in 2008.
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Haiti topographic map highlighted, partial graphic
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HAITI topographic map highlighted, with PORT-AU-PRINCE and earthquake epicenter locators, partial graphic