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Haiti still stricken, one year on

Rory Carroll

One million people continue to live in makeshift accommodation and only five per cent of rubble left by the earthquake has been cleared.

PHOTO: AP

IN RUINS: A January 2010 file picture that shows earthquake rubble in Port-au-Prince. In 2011, nothing much appears to have changed.-

Dithering by the government and a lack of co-ordination between aid agencies and donors have crippled rebuilding efforts in Haiti, leaving the country in ruins a year after the earthquake, a report says on January 6.

Nearly one million people remain in tents or under tarpaulins and rubble still clogs the capital, Port-au-Prince, reflecting a “year of indecision” that has put recovery on hold, according to Oxfam.

The report, published a week before the earthquake's anniversary, follows an announcement that political wrangling has delayed the second round of the disputed presidential election until February, leaving Haiti's leadership also in limbo.

The anniversary will fuel recriminations about why a wave of global sympathy and funding pledges appears to have dissolved into lost opportunities and continued suffering.

The destruction of the capital and death of an estimated 2,30,000 people, including civil servants and technicians crushed in collapsed ministries, prompted a huge international relief effort, with $2.1bn pledged. Thousands of aid agencies and missionary groups poured in. According to the U.N.'s special envoy, only 42 per cent of the money was spent.

Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country's Oxfam director, said near-paralysis in the government had been compounded by mistakes in the international response. “Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid priorities and have not effectively co-ordinated amongst themselves or worked with the Haitian government,” he said.

Oxfam accused the interim Haiti recovery commission, led by the former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, of being “lacklustre” in managing funds and improving Haiti's technical capacity to spend them.

An emblematic failure is the fact that only five per cent of rubble has been cleared.

Privately, aid agencies have said it is easier to raise funds for shelters and medical treatment than to clear debris which, one said, is “less emotional, less attractive”.

To a litany of woes — unemployment, cholera, poverty — an Amnesty International report adds violence against women. Armed men prey with impunity on women in displacement camps, it says.— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2011

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