It’s six months today since the Haiti earthquake. It was not one of the most powerful in history, but it was one of the most deadly because of its epicentre’s proximity to major centres of population.
Even before the quake struck, Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and we now know that it killed more than 222,000 people, and left more than 2 million homeless. Thousands of civil servants and hundreds from international relief agencies were among the dead. Only one government ministry building was left standing.
In spite of this almost total destruction of what Haiti had in the way of an administrative infrastructure, food was provided for more than four million, and nearly one million were vaccinated, helping to avert the epidemics and starvation that so often come in the wake of disasters.
Six months on, though, 1.5 million people are still living in temporary camps, and the hurricane season is about to begin. Bill Clinton, co-chair of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Committee, has complained that 90% of the $5 billion pledged by the world’s governments to help has still not been handed over.
(See also my blogs of Jan 14, 15, 19, 22, 23, 24; Feb 2; April 22.)