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Haiti

Promised aid not delivered six months after Haiti earthquake

Reuters
6 min

Six months after an earthquake killed 250,000 people in Haiti, an estimated 1.5 million people remain homeless, the government faces criticism for not doing enough and much promised foreign aid has not been delivered.

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Local people complain that they have seen little progress since the 12 January quake levelled 60 per cent of buildings in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Earlier this year there were angry protests

Thousands of families throughout the country live in plastic tents under sweltering temperatures, and are at risk of crime, exploitation and abuse.

Tamara Kummer, World Food Programme

International aid donors have been criticised for not following through on pledges, with a US Senate report last month finding that of the 5.3 billion dollars (4.2 billion euros) promised, only two per cent has been received.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) says that its emergency operation has a shortfall of more than $200 million (160 million euros).

“It’s not just the emergency food component that we are talking about – it’s also the logistics and telecommunications components of this operation,” WFP spokesperson Tamara Kummer told RFI.

Despite funding difficulties, Kummer believes that the WFP has accomplished a great deal, with its aid effort moving from the emergency response into the long-term recovery stage.

“For that we have refocused our food distributions from general food distributions to much more targeted programs such as school feeding,” she says.“We are now providing a hot meal to 655,000 schoolchildren throughout Haiti.”

Kummer says the WFP has been working to reorient its programmes to be able to support Haiti’s longer-term development both on an economic and a structural level.

“It’s very clear that if progress is not made on those fronts the country will stay vulnerable to the sort of cyclical natural disasters and structural poverty that it is prey to,” she says.

The organisation has launched temporary job initiatives employing some 35,000 women and men who are paid with a mixture of food and cash.

The UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Haiti, Nigel Fischer, said there were "many challenges" in putting Haiti back on its feet and co-ordinating aid, warning that 130 tent cities are at risk from the hurricane season.

Haiti experiences violent hurricane seasons, particularly in late summer, with the WFP already implementing contingency plans.

“We’re prepositioning food in a number of vulnerable locations in preparation for the hurricane season in which roads become unusable, port facilities are damaged and isolated areas become inaccessible,” Kremmer says.

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