Wednesday, May 27, 2020
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Haiti still desperate for aid

Haiti has seen less than 50 percent of the aid promised by the international community in the days and weeks after a deadly earthquake hit the country last year, according to Haitian Ambassador to The Bahamas Antonio Rodrigue.

Rodrigue said the Haitian people and government are not satisfied with the pace of reconstruction in the year since the tragedy claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people.

Among them were the ambassador’s brother, his aunt, friends and colleagues.

Rodrigue said in recent times the reconstruction has been more consistent than in the initial months after the earthquake.

But Haiti lacks the resources needed to nurse it to health. The international community has estimated that it would take$10 billion to reconstruct Port-au-Prince.

“We don’t have that money,”the ambassador pointed out in an interview withThe Nassau Guardianyesterday.

Though he spoke at the embassy, it remained closed throughout the day as Haitians commemorated the first anniversary of the tragedy.

“In the beginning there was a funds appeal for the international community to contribute,”the ambassador said.

“Even though many countries, many organizations had made promises to fund our construction the money hasn’t arrived as fast as necessary.”

Rodrigue noted that much of the funds donated to Haiti have been channeled through non-governmental organizations, presenting a challenge to the coordination of international aid.

As it struggles with reconstruction, Haiti is also fighting a cholera outbreak that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives.

“That slowed a little bit the[progress]of the reconstruction efforts because the government has to focus on dealing with that epidemic in Haiti,”Rodrigue said.

“So even though we are making progress it’s not really what we would like to see one year after the earthquake. There is much that needs to be taking place.”

There are still more than 800,000 people living in tent cities. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, approximately two million people were without homes.

The Haitian government wants everybody by the end of 2011 to be out of the tents and in transitional shelters or homes, according to the ambassador.

Rodrigue noted that because the earthquake hit the capital city, it impacted the heart of government. An estimated 20 percent of civil servants were killed.

Asked what kind of Haiti he prays to see in another decade, Rodrigue said the Haiti he wishes to see is the kind of country Haitians everywhere also want.

“We want to see our country first of all get up, get back[on]its feet, be rebuilt in a better way, be on the path of development,”he said.

“This way we know we would be able to give a better choice to our citizens and they will be happy to stay home, not go away.

“Haitians love their country. All of them, they want to go back one day because that’s where they know they will feel very well, but for the moment it is kind of difficult due to the situation.”

Rodgers writes on Ba