Monday, February 8, 2010

Group Says Agents Want Fees Before Releasing Haiti Aid

By Rachel Revehl, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press

Cape Coral pilot David Beauvois tells Cape Christian Fellowship members on Saturday that the supplies and goods they flew to Haiti might not reach an orphange the church supports because of a customs holdup in Cap Haitien. At left is co-pilot Sean Sanders.

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti — The members of the Cape Christian Fellowship felt their donations of baby food, diapers, toys and cribs would be welcomed in this impoverished port city. They were, but for a price, said Brett Furlong, executive pastor of the fellowship in Cape Coral, Fla.
Haiti customs agents told those bringing in the donated goods that if they didn't pay $120 that the aid would be held indefinitely, he said. The demand came despite a sign at the point of entry stating, "No fees for humanitarian aid."

"Where there isn't customs before, now there is," Furlong said. "This is the third time this week we've been held."

The group wound up paying the money, Furlong said.

"But everyone takes it in stride; it's worth any hassle to get everything down to the orphanage," he said.

The group took a private plane out of Naples airport Saturday to hand out donated supplies to its orphanage in Quanami, outside of Cap-Haitien.

Cap-Haitien is known for its picturesque Caribbean beaches and resorts, making it a stop for cruise ships. Its well-preserved French colonial architecture mingles with shantytowns.

It was untouched by the Jan. 12 earthquake, but a flood of children fled there soon after.

Brooke Edmonds, director of the fellowship's children's ministry, had been excited about the response of southwest Florida to the Haitian disaster.

"The donations coming in have been amazing," Edmonds said.

Cape Coral pilot David Beauvois said he and his co-pilot Sean Sanders of Atlanta were ordered to pay the $120. He said some pilots will no longer land aid into Cap-Haitien's airport because customs agents gouge them: $65 for "overtime," $50 for a "gate fee" to open a gate and allow aid in. Other times, the aid has been stolen, he said.

"It's just sad because people out there really need this," said Michelle Schwartz, a Cape Coral occupational therapist who also was on board. "I mean, it's all for kids."

"The government is so corrupt," Beauvois said. "What they really need to do is get the American military here to regulate, like they do in Port-au-Prince."

Source: USA

No comments:

Post a Comment