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12 Jul, 2010 23:00

Haiti six months after the devastating quake

It’s been six months since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, killing more than 220,000 people and leaving the country in ruins.

This situation in Haiti continues to be very difficult, said Melinda Miles, a co-founder of the Haiti Response Coalition.

I’m sad to report that six months after the earthquake very little has changed in the lives of the majority of the survivors of the earthquake,” said Miles.

Having spent a great deal of time working in Haiti, she said her main objective is to “bridge the gap between needs and resources.”

The communities have a lot of needs and the resources are in the hands of NGOs and international agencies and really aren’t reaching the people in the ways that they need right now,” said Miles.

Miles argued that many of the individuals working in Haiti simply do not understand Haiti. Those working on the ground are not aware of the society, the culture, history, etc in a way that enables them to best meet the needs of the Haitian people. Currently, the level of bureaucracy and red tape is a part of that problem. Miles hopes new plans do not add to the bureaucracy.

The solution has to come from Haitians. I think that Haitians have articulated their vision for the future of Haiti many times,” she said.

The Haitian constitution lays out a plan and process for the decentralization of the Haitian government and economy, and calls for greater investment in the rural countryside where the majority of the population resides. However, the current rebuilding plan is focusing primarily on rebuilding Port-au-Prince.

Miles hopes that the Haitian people will organize and demand their needs be met and call for solution that meets their needs; including investment, infrastructure and aid outside of the capital city.

Otherwise we are going to see Port-au-Price become a city of slums,” said Miles.

Nora Rasman, a Haiti program associate at TransAfrica Forum reports that the situation on the ground in Haiti is extremely dire.

People’s access to basic goods; food, water, security, adequate shelter is extremely extremely limited,” she said.

Rasman said there is a historic distrust of the Haitian government, which is impeding international organizations and others from relinquishing control to Haiti.

Post-earthquake Haitians have not been included in the redevelopment and rebuilding process; they have been marginalized, Rasman argued.
The UN held a conference to raise nearly $10 Billion in aid for Haiti. However, less than 10 percent has been paid out because the pledges were non-binding.

Some counties, companies or others that promised aid funds are not paying up and they are not required to do so.

In addition, only about five percent of the debris from the earthquake has been removed over the past six months, with more than one million Haitians living on the streets among the debris.

Rapper and activist Immortal Technique recently spent time in Haiti.

The people who are inside the tent cities, there are usually about two or three families per tent, so when you look at the tents it’s a little misleading. It’s like; oh they’re fine now they have a tent. No they don’t. They’re not fine. You know, what happens when hurricane season comes? How are those tents goijg to hold up to that?” he said.

Immortal Technique argued that there is no long term vision in Haiti, referring to the nation as a military and police state run by the United States and the UN.