The United States, the European Union, and others have pledged $600 Million US in additional funds Wednesday for hundreds of thousands of people who are still struggling six months following the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti’s southern regions.
The pledges made during a conference held by the United Nations and Haiti’s government fell short of an international push to raise $2 billion US to help the country rebuild from a 7.2-magnitude quake last August.
The quake killed an estimated 2,200 people and destroyed or damaged more than 130,000 homes and some 1,250 schools.
Amina Mohammed, a deputy UN secretary-general, called the $2-billion figure “daunting,” but said Haiti needs international support.
“We are well aware of the pressures on aid budgets around the world. We also recognize that there is donor fatigue. We are also aware of concerns regarding the Haitian aid’s results. However, this is not the moment to lose heart,” she stated.
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The U.S. Agency for International Development broadcast her speech shortly afterward at the conference that was held at a hotel in Port-au-Prince. pledged an additional $50 millionThe European Union has more than $30 Million worth of grants. Canada will provide $19.5 million Cdn in international assistanceFor Haiti
Ariel Henry, Haiti’s prime minister, thanked all of the international community’s support immediately following the earthquake. However, he stated that much more needs to be rebuilt in rural areas.
“The government is doing all it can with the means it has,” he said, adding that nearly $350 million is needed to launch the reconstruction process.
Many thousands of Haitians, who lost their homes in the earthquake, remain in makeshift camps along the coast of Les Cayes. They live in cramped shelters made from plastic, cloth sheets, and corrugated steel.
Juste Joseph Jocelyn is a 39-year old electrician who runs a camp that accommodates more than 150 people. “Imagine people waking up without water. Even food.
He stated that the camp was only 10 minutes away from a main road, and no local authorities visited it or provided assistance. He said that people must walk for water buckets and have to go far to get them.
Jocelyn declared, “We’re on our own.”
Haiti has many urgent needs right now
Ariel’s administration estimates more than $1 billion is needed for the social sector, including housing, $400 million for education, $55 million for food security and $32 million for health needs.
In addition, officials say $142 million is needed for transportation infrastructure, $41 million for agriculture and $11 million for water and sanitation.
Officials say 70 per cent of schools in the area were destroyed, affecting 320,000 students.
Henry tried to dispel any fears about mismanagement of prior aid after the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010. The government estimated that it killed between 200 000 and 300,000.
He said that his government had taken all possible steps to avoid repeating past errors.
Henry’s administration faces not only trying to help Haiti rebuild from the most recent earthquake, but also recover from the July assassination of President Jovenel Möise, which has deepened political instability. Haiti is also experiencing a rise in violence, gang-related kidnappings, and skyrocketing inflation.
Just hours prior to Wednesday’s international meeting, thousands of factory workers protested in the streets calling for pay increases. They currently make 500 gourdes ($5 US) for nine hours of work and are seeking a minimum of 1,500 gourdes ($15 US) a day.
Protesters attempted to set a government facility on fire with rocks. Police responded by firing tear gas and bullets.
Jean Robert Jean-Louis stated, “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to continue to live with the salary I’m getting.”
According to the 36-year old factory worker, inflation has made it impossible for him to get to work. Because of fighting between gangs for territory, he said he must walk many miles to get the bus.
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Officials said that the same violence made it difficult for volunteers and aid to reach southern Haiti.
Mohammed, the UN official, noted that “Haiti is again at a crossroads. … We have an immediate opportunity to break out of the cycle of crises that has constrained Haiti’s development for so long.”