Haiti still suf­fer­ing nine years af­ter dev­as­tat­ing earthquake

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer [email protected]­erjm.com

NINE YEARS af­ter a mag­ni­tude 7.0 earthquake dev­as­tated Haiti and killed what some es­ti­mate to be more than 300,000 per­sons, the coun­try is still suf­fer­ing the de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fects, with very lit­tle to show from the mas­sive in­ter­na­tional aid pack­age that was promised.

Na­tion­als and sup­port­ers of the im­pov­er­ished Caribbean coun­try yes­ter­day held a vigil in Mi­ami to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary of the Jan­uary 12, 2010, earthquake.

Last Fri­day, in an in­ter­view with The Sun­day Gleaner, Rhemie Dal­ger, pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer for the Florida-based Fam­ily Ac­tion Net­work Move­ment (FANM), said Haitians are still suf­fer­ing.

“Re­cov­ery has been re­ally very slow, and the peo­ple are fac­ing more hard­ships than ever. There is still so much suf­fer­ing there, and much of the promised as­sis­tance did not reach the peo­ple who need it most,” said Dal­ger.

“Haitians are still liv­ing in the streets. There is still so much sick­ness and so much suf­fer­ing. Many of the prom­ises made im­me­di­ately af­ter the earthquake have not ma­te­ri­alised. If you in­ves­ti­gate what hap­pened with the Red Cross, for ex­am­ple, af­ter more than US$500 mil­lion in aid, they only built six per­ma­nent houses,” al­leged Dal­ger, with deep dis­ap­point­ment in her voice.

The Red Cross has been heav­ily crit­i­cised for the mas­sive waste of funds in Haiti, with not much to show.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions found that the Red Cross grossly mis­man­aged its re­sponse to the 2010 earthquake, spend­ing only 25 per cent of the mil­lions col­lected on in­di­vid­u­als in need. The or­gan­i­sa­tion said it con­trib­uted mil­lions to other char­i­ta­ble or­gan­i­sa­tions op­er­at­ing in the coun­try.

Speak­ing to the an­nual vigil, which at­tracted thou­sands when it first started, Dal­ger noted that it was now down to a faith­ful few hun­dreds.

Fol­low­ing the earthquake, Haiti suf­fered a cholera out­break, which took the lives of sev­eral thou­sands of its cit­i­zens. The strain of cholera was traced to sol­diers of one of the del­e­ga­tions in the coun­try at the time.

Ac­cord­ing to Dal­ger, there was no com­pen­sa­tion for the fam­i­lies of the per­sons who died and also none for the sur­vivors of the child-sex ex­ploita­tion af­ter the earthquake.

“You know, it seems like they just look at us and say, ‘Well, it’s Haiti, so it’s noth­ing.’ If all these had hap­pened in the big­ger coun­tries, some­thing would be done. I al­ways sec­ond-guess some­one who says, ‘I am go­ing to Haiti to help. Most times, they are go­ing to Haiti to make money,” charged Dal­ger.

Yes­ter­day’s vigil took the form of a silent march and prayer at North Mi­ami Av­enue and 62 Street (in front of a statue of Tous­saint L’Ou­ver­ture). Af­ter a brief pro­gramme, par­tic­i­pants walked to the Lit­tle Haiti Cul­tural Cen­ter in Mi­ami.

The march was or­gan­ised by Mar­lene Bastien, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of FANM.

FILE

The af­ter­math of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti cap­tured by Gleaner pho­tog­ra­pher Ian Allen.

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