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Food aid arrives in Haiti but delivery is still difficult

Hammered by a series of storms, thousands of Haitians wait in shelters for help.

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Food and fresh water ran dangerously low on Thursday for thousands in the flood-stricken Haitian city of Gonaives, as governments and aid groups struggled to get aid to people.

Shipments of food and pledges of more are pouring in from around the world. But the distribution of the emergency supplies was hampered by the impoverished country's chronic insecurity and the poor and often nonexistent network of roads and other infrastructure.

"The availability of food is not an issue," said Myrta Kaulard, a representative of the UN World Food Program. "Access, yes, is an issue."

UN peacekeepers have been handing out water and high-protein biscuits throughout Gonaives, which is still largely underwater after successive hits from one tropical storm and three hurricanes. But they have had to switch to distributing only at night to avoid causing a riot among desperate citizens.

A US Navy ship, the USS Kearsarge, arrived off the coast Sunday evening with amphibious boats and helicopters capable of resolving some of the logistical problems. But hurricane Ike delayed the vessel's arrival to the capital, Port-au-Prince, until late the next day, and its helicopters spent two days trying to find a safe spot to land in Gonaives.

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