Axel Öberg in Haiti


First thing this morning I received the above picture from a friend of Mine, Axel Öberg, who is in Haiti working for the Swedish press. This is a short conversation I had with him:

Tom White: Hey Axel, So you are in Port Au Prince right? But first you were in Jacmel.

Axel Öberg: Right. I landed in Jacmel on Friday morning, we flew in with a Danish team and was the first journalist there. On Sunday I took a motorbike north through the mountains to Leogane which was close to the epicenter of the quake. Then I went to Port-au-Prince

Tom White: How were things there in Leogane? Most of the media attention is on the capital but there must be a lot of devastation elsewhere too?

Axel Öberg: Yes, Leoagane was really bad, one in ten is dead and 80% of the houses are gone, at least that's what I was told

Tom White: Is the aid effort mostly centered in Port Au Prince still? I read this morning that the migration of Haitians from the capital out to the countryside has begun in earnest. Are aid teams and medical workers following them?

Axel Öberg: I actually dont know, Feels like people outside have better understanding of the overall picture.

Tom White: Tell me a little about that. What is it like on a day to day in the city. Do people have an idea of what is going on or is it too chaotic.

Axel Öberg: I think apathy (?) is a better word. At least the first days, now people seem to become desperate. The US military has taken over the airport to keep people out, I was threatened to get shot by a federal agent.

FED: where are you going?

Me: To do a story on a Swedish UN worker.

F: Lots of journalist say that and the tries to get on a plane, If I see you trying to get on a plane I shoot you.

Me: Why?

F: Because its a federal crime to lie to me.

Me: Ok.

Then I walked off.

Tom White: Right, so a bit of good old martial law then. As a tall blond Swedish guy you must stand out a little, even among foreigners. How do the Haitians respond to you?

Axel Öberg: Ok, everybody ask for money supplies anything. Nobody knows Sweden, but everybody knows Swedish soccer player Zlatan from Madrid. Good icebreaker.

Tom White: I get that too sometimes when I'm abroad. They know England, but often it's Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool FC they talk about first. Football is universal right.

Axel Öberg: I guess so. I don’t even like football but now I’m happy for it.

Then, just as I was about to ask him about supplies, food and drink, electricity and the like, he disappeared offline. Either he had to go, his internet went down, or the electricity was cut. It seems like he'll be there for a while so hopefully I'll hear from him again at some point soon.

UPDATE: I received this message from Axel later in the day, while I was out:

Axel Öberg: There’s not any electricity, they started giving out food, but not enough it seems like. My reporter brought food and water from Dominican Republic so we won’t live off aid food for the Haitians. Since I’m working for a tabloid it’s lots of case stories, Today we been chasing the two kids that been rescued after 8 days which included finding a Israeli army hospital, after that an American rescue team, finding the house where they were rescued in some shanty part of PaP, then having to find the place where they were supposed to stay now, It turned out they moved to a city outside PaP. Going there, not being able to find them and then finding out that SUN had taken them somewhere else to get everything exclusive... so no shooting more or less today, so it’s been very frustrating not to be able to shoot just spending all day in a car chasing a story and just seeing other stories rolling by in the car window...

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