PORT-AU-PRINCE — UN special envoy Bill Clinton on Monday defended the pace of incoming foreign aid and praised doctors working in shocking conditions as he toured the devastation in Haiti's capital.
"I'll be surprised and disappointed if 48 hours from now we're not feeding and bringing fresh water to dramatically larger amounts of people," Clinton told reporters here.
The former US president was whisked to the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince and given a first-hand look at the ruined city and the misery facing survivors and those treating them after last week's cataclysmic quake.
"They have done an amazing job given the adversity they have faced," Clinton told AFP of the medical personnel as he walked through the crowded hospital largely unrecognized by most of the ailing Haitians around him.
Clinton, somber-looking as he bent down and comforted a wounded woman lying on the floor, said he was "shocked" by what the doctors have been able to do without even rudimentary medical supplies such as alcohol.
"I think the people have been heroic," said Clinton, who was accompanied by his daughter Chelsea as they walked down hospital hallways crowded with the injured and the dying.
With the morgue overflowing, quake survivors had laid hundreds of corpses outside the hospital last week, and while those bodies have since been moved, the stench of death still filled the air in and around the hospital.
Despite the dire conditions, Clinton stressed that aid was flowing at an acceptable pace.
"No, I don't think they were slow coming in," said Clinton.
"The infrastructure broke down (as a result of the earthquake), and that's what we're building up."
But simmering unrest has been stoked by the agonizing delays in supplies reaching the hundreds of thousands of people who have been without a steady source of food or water since the quake struck.
Haiti's collapsed government, ruined port and roads, an overcrowded airport and a mounting threat of lawlessness in Port-au-Prince all have conspired to snarl relief efforts.
The international Red Cross warned Monday that access to clean water, food, shelter and medical care "remains extremely limited."
On the grounds of the hospital, desperate Haitians seeking shelter under plastic sheeting told of their misery and the immediate need for outside help.
Nadia Meranvivne sat outside awaiting news of her 18-month-old son whose arm and leg were broken in the earthquake.
"We hope that Mr Clinton will help us save our lives and the lives of our children," she wept.
"He (Clinton) can help us, because this country doesn't have anything."
Before leaving, Clinton was supposed to meet with President Rene Preval and other Haitian leaders at the Port-au-Prince airport to discuss ways to more effectively coordinate the distribution of aid.
"We are trying to be very targeted with what we're bringing in," he told AFP at the hospital, referring to the water, food, medical supplies, and other supplies such as solar flashlights, portable radios and generators being provided by The Clinton Foundation.
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