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Photostream : One year for Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Search and Rescue soldiers since joining Haiti aid team

IDF Delegation Arrival in Haiti : The Israel Defense Forces aid delegation getting off the plane upon arrival at Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Israel sent a team of over 250 personnel to help in the rescue and medical efforts after Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake in January 2010. (Photo : IDF’s FLICKR, January 16, 2010)

Rescue of a Haitian Man from Government Building, Jan 2010 : The Israel Defense Forces Search and Rescue team extracted a 52 year old Haitian government employee, trapped in the ruins of the customs office in Port-au-Prince after 6 hours of work. The man was trapped under the rubble for 125 hours before being rescued by the team and was then taken to the IDF field hospital for treatment. The man was able to communicate his location via SMS. After the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in January 2010, Israel sent an aid delegation with over 250 personnel to help with search and rescue efforts and establish a field hospital. (Photo : IDF’s FLICKR, January 2010)

IDF Search and Rescue Team at Port-au-Prince University , Jan 2010 : A rescue team, led by Israel Defense Forces Search and Rescue platoon commanders, enters the university in Port-au-Prince, in order to assist in the evacuation of survivors and victims. One of the buildings on the campus collapsed while classes were in session. After a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Israel sent a team of over 250 personnel to help in the rescue and medical efforts. (Photo : IDF’s FLICKR, January 16, 2010)

Rescue of a Haitian Man from Government Building, Jan 2010 : The Israel Defense Forces search and rescue team extracted a 52 year old Haitian government employee, trapped in the ruins of the customs office in Port-au-Prince after 6 hours of work. The man was trapped under the rubble for 125 hours before being rescued by the team and was then taken to the IDF field hospital for treatment. The man was able to communicate his location via SMS. After the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in January 2010, Israel sent an aid delegation with over 250 personnel to help with search and rescue efforts and establish a field hospital. (Photo : IDF’s FLICKR, January 2010)

Dr. Col. Kryce Transporting Injured Girl, Jan 2010 : Doctor Colonel Itzik Kryce, the commander of the Israel Defense Forces field hospital in Haiti helps transport a wounded girl with a severe leg injury for treatment. After the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in January 2010, Israel sent an aid delegation of over 250 personnel to help with search and rescue efforts and establish a field hospital in Port-au-Prince. (Photo : IDF’s FLICKR, January 2010)

Doctors Check on Premature Baby, Jan 2010 : Dr. Maj. Yuval Levi and Nurse Captain Margarita Memdov are pictured treating a premature baby weighing 1.8 kg delivered in the IDF field hospital in Haiti. In total, 16 babies were successfully delivered at the field hospital during the time the IDF was in Haiti. The hospital features a special ward maternity ward and was equipped to handle complicated births and premature deliveries. After the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in January 2010, Israel sent an aid delegation of over 250 personnel to help with search and rescue efforts and establish a field hospital in Port-au-Prince. (Photo : IDF’s FLICKR, January 18,2010)

IDF Medical Aid Team Performing Surgery in Haiti Field Hospital, Jan 2010 : Then-Chief Medical Officer, Col. Dr. Ariel Bar, and Lt. Col. Dr. Chaim Levon performing surgery in the IDF field hospital in Haiti. After the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti in January 2010, Israel sent an aid delegation of over 250 personnel to help with search and rescue efforts and establish a field hospital in Port-au-Prince. (Photo : IDF’s FLICKR, January 19, 2010)

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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in World News

 

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Photostream : Haiti marks earthquake anniversary

The Haitian national flag stands at half mast at the National Palace during the one-year anniversary of the 2010 quake in downtown Port-au-Prince, January 12, 2011. Thousands took part in memorial services, including one at the ruins of the National Cathedral in the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince attended by the Papal envoy to Haiti, other religious leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

A girl gazes out of a bus window in front of the Haitian national flag at the National Palace during the one-year anniversary of the 2010 quake in downtown Port-au-Prince, January 12, 2011. Thousands took part in memorial services, including one at the ruins of the National Cathedral in the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince attended by the Papal envoy to Haiti, other religious leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

A woman prays in front of the destroyed Haiti cathedral during the one-year anniversary of the 2010 quake in Port-au-Prince January 12, 2011. Haitians, many dressed in white in mourning, honored victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake on Wednesday in a somber anniversary clouded by pessimism over slow reconstruction and political uncertainty. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Haitians pray and sing outside the destroyed Port-au-Prince cathedral January 12, 2011 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Today is the one-year anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 Haitian earthquake which killed over 200,000 people. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A Haitian woman prays during a moment of silence at a ceremony commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince January 12, 2011. Thousands took part in memorial services, including one at the ruins of the National Cathedral in the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince attended by the Papal envoy to Haiti, other religious leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

A Haitian woman screams in the middle of the crowd during a moment of silence at a ceremony commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince January 12, 2011. Thousands took part in memorial services, including one at the ruins of the National Cathedral in the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince attended by the Papal envoy to Haiti, other religious leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

Haitians observe a minute of silence at 4:53 pm, the time the earthquake struck a year ago, in honor of the quake victims in Port-au-Prince January 12, 2011. Haiti mourned more than 300,000 victims of its devastating 2010 earthquake on Wednesday in a somber one-year anniversary clouded by pessimism over slow reconstruction and political uncertainty. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Special envoy for UNESCO Michaelle Jean speaks during a ceremony at Quisqueya University January 12, 2011 in memory of students and teachers killed in the earthquake of January 12, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Dressed in their best and clutching Bibles, thousands of Haitians gathered near a ruined cathedral Wednesday to mark the moment a year ago when the earth convulsed and savaged their nation. More than 220,000 people were killed and 1.3 million left homeless when at 4:53 pm (2153 GMT) on January 12, 2010 the Earth heaved for a few terrifying seconds, collapsing homes and businesses, churches and schools -- leaving hellish, nightmarish scenes of devastation and suffering. (Photo by THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images)

Haitian presidential candidate Michel Martelly (C) takes a moment to reflect after placing a wreath at the heavily damaged door of the main cathedral, during the one-year anniversary of the 2010 quake, in downtown Port-au-Prince, January 12, 2011. Thousands took part in memorial services, including one at the ruins of the National Cathedral in the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince attended by the Papal envoy to Haiti, other religious leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

Haitian President Rene Preval (C) and former U.S. President Bill Clinton (4th R) participate in an event in remembrance of the victims of the 2010 earthquake at the site of the national tax services building, in downtown Port-au-Prince, January 12, 2011. The building, which was leveled in the earthquake one year ago, is to be turned into a public park. Thousands took part in memorial services, including one at the ruins of the National Cathedral in the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince attended by the Papal envoy to Haiti, other religious leaders, government officials and foreign dignitaries. REUTERS/Allison Shelley

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2011 in World News

 

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Haiti earthquake: After so many promises, why is the country still struggling?

Matthew Price ( BBC) : "Once in a while, you visit a place that you know will forever be lodged in your mind. That place for me is L'Hopital de la Paix, on Delmas 33, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I first went there just about 24 hours after the earthquake on 12 January last year. Now, a year later, walking into the hospital grounds, it all comes back".

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Jan 12 (KATAKAMI / BBC) — It was a clear night, as the stars shone down brightly out of a dark Caribbean sky.

There’s the curb against which I saw a baby’s body lying wrapped and abandoned.

There’s the grass leading up to the main building, where I watched a man lay down to sleep between two dead people.

There are the steps that take me through the entrance, and back into the corridor down which a woman’s wail echoed, where a girl wrapped in bloody sheets lay curled up on a table.

And there’s the corner where Astrel Jacques first introduced me to his daughter.

Telia was lying on the tiled floor, her little legs broken, the dirty bandages on her head barely stopping the bleeding from a large gash.

Now, here we are again, the three of us, at the same corner a year later.

Telia’s hair is in braids, each finished off with a white plastic clip.

The scar across her forehead, running down from hairline to eyebrow, is still vivid. So, too, the scars on her legs. She will always have those. But today at least she can smile, and she has a beautiful smile.

“As I’m walking right here, you had to step on dead bodies. Dead bodies was everywhere,” Astrel recollects in broken English as we head along the now pristine corridors.

“Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons: everybody was just fighting to stay alive.”

Telia's father says she is still traumatised by the events of a year ago

Telia is a quiet girl. Her father says she is still traumatised.

She was injured by falling masonry when the earthquake hit. Her younger sister was killed. So, too, was her grandmother. The scars, physical and mental, will be with her for the rest of her life.

But will Haiti too be scared forever? Twelve months ago, as I walked past the dead, as the smell of decaying bodies grew more pungent day by day, there was not much to be positive about.

There were, however, some signs of encouragement. One was the sheer level of support and help offered from around the world. Compassion fatigue? Hardly. Haiti caught the world’s attention, and benefited from the world’s generosity.

Then there was the resourcefulness of the Haitians themselves. They managed to return to some sort of basic existence pretty quickly.

There were the international promises to re-build a better Haiti – everyone seemed to agree, and the momentum was building to do just that.

Frustration

Today though, back on that hospital corner, Astrel Jacques is no longer encouraged.

“As of right now, Haiti will never rebuild. I mean I don’t see any sign. For something to rebuild you have to see signs. You have to see hands put in. You have to see actions. You have to see talks. I don’t see any of it.”

It is a common refrain, born somewhat out of reality, but also out of frustration.

There have been changes here, but so far they have been limited.

In those days after the earthquake, I visited a supposedly temporary camp Next to it was a patch of empty, stony ground. I wondered how much longer it would be before the tents and tarpaulins spread out from the camp to cover it, too.

Haiti’s 2010 Earthquake

  • Struck 12 January, 2010 at 1653 local time (2153 GMT)
  • Magnitude 7.0, epicentre about 15km (10 miles) south-west of capital Port-au-Prince, near town of Leogane
  • Killed about 230,000 people, injured about 300,000 people
  • More than 50 aftershocks
  • Left about one million people homeless

A month later, when I next saw it, people were indeed beginning to put up rough wooden structures. A few poles and bit of plastic sheeting.

After six months however, as I next passed by, the land was empty, a fence around it. A waste of space it seemed.

Now, there are 350 new homes there. Wooden structures, and temporary, but the people who moved in over the last few days consider themselves lucky. They finally have something more than a tent that they can call home.

‘I can’t rebuild’

The issue many here have is that even this is not a long-term solution. It took the International Red Cross a year to get permission to use the land, to secure it, to get the materials, to move people in.

And yet there are no paved roads in what is Port-au-Prince’s newest neighbourhood, no sewage infrastructure, no electricity. Within a year this may well be Port-au-Prince’s newest slum.

This kind of rebuilding is also the exception. Much rubble is still lying where it fell.

In a crowded district, which sits in the fold between two hills, many of the ruins I climbed over a year ago are still there. As I wind through the tiny alleyways, there are some signs of clearance.

Outside Fabula’s tin shack for instance, the mound we stood on six months ago has been cleared, leaving an empty plot where one day someone will build.

Fabula’s son is now one year old. I met him in the first few minutes of his life. He was born just after the earthquake. His mother, too exhausted to push him out, almost died in labour.

Her life is still immensely hard.

“Nothing has changed,” she says.

“The people who are fortunate have done some small rebuilding, but the unfortunate have not done anything. My mum lives up the hill in a camp. I still can’t rebuild our house.”

Pushed to the limit

Haiti is the kind of place that gets under your skin.

It plays with your emotions.

I have spent much of the past week here feeling angry. Why has seemingly so little been achieved?

You can point fingers in many directions. At the government and its weak leadership – but then 17% of its civil servants died in the earthquake, and it was weak anyway.

At the international community, for failing to live up to their promises, but then all agree this is one of the most complex humanitarian disasters of the modern age, and addressing it is going to take decades.

At the NGOs – of whom there are thousands here – for failing to start longer-term projects, but then they have been pushed to the limit by other challenges, a hurricane and a cholera epidemic. They have kept Haiti alive on life support.

The challenge remains though, to move this country off emergency care, and into long-term rehabilitation.

The big stuff needs to be addressed.

A more able political leadership needs to be established. Infrastructure projects need to be planned – new streets, a sewage system and power grid. Jobs need to be created. Houses built. An entire country needs to be recreated.

How though, do you do that? Let’s hope in a year’s time we’re not still asking the same question.  (*)

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in World News

 

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Photostream : Haitian Amputee Soccer Team

Players belonging to Haiti's unofficial national amputee soccer team warm up prior to a friendly match against the local Zaryen team in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Jan 9, 2011. Many of the players in both teams lost their limbs during the Jan. 12, 2010 magnitude-7.0 quake that killed more than 220,000 people and left millions homeless.« Read less (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Haitian soccer players of the national amputee team warm up before a friendly match against Zaryen team in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Haitian soccer players of the Zaryen team warm up before a friendly match against the national amputee team in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010.« Read less REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Haitian soccer players of the Zaryen team (blue) and the National amputee team (white) fight for the ball during a friendly match in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

Amputee soccer players of the local Zaryen team warm up prior to a friendly match against Haiti's unofficial national amputee soccer team in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Jan 9, 2011. Many of the players in both teams lost their limbs during the Jan. 12, 2010 magnitude-7.0 quake that killed more than 220,000 people and left millions homeless.« Read less (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

Soccer players of the Zaryen team (blue) and the national amputee team (white) fight for the ball during a friendly match in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

Haitian soccer players of the Zaryen team (blue) and the national amputee team (white) greet the crowd before a friendly match in Port-au-Prince January 9, 2011. Haiti will this week mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that killed around 250,000 people and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince on Jan 12, 2010. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in World News

 

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Haiti: A year after the quake, waiting to rebuild

Sebastian Lamoth, 8, left, poses for a photo at his home with his cousin Joseph Rood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday Jan. 10, 2011. Lamoth's leg was amputated due to an injury suffered in the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. Almost one year has passed since the magnitude-7.0 quake that killed more than 220,000 people and left millions homeless. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, jan 11 (KATAKAMI / AP)  –– The man’s body was face down, his white dress shirt shining like wax in the sun, as he was unearthed in the ruins of a central Port-au-Prince restaurant a year after the earthquake.

That bodies are still being found in rubble is a sign of how far Haiti has to go to recover from a disaster that left the capital in ruins and is estimated to have killed more than 230,000 people.

As the dust was still settling from the Jan. 12, 2010, disaster, volunteers and hundreds of aid groups flocked in with food, water and first aid that saved countless lives. But the effort to rebuild has been dwarfed by the size of the tragedy, the extent of the need and, perhaps most fatally, the lack of leadership and coordination of more than 10,000 disorganized non-governmental organizations.

The international community “has not done enough to support good governance and effective leadership in Haiti,” the aid group Oxfam said in a recent report. “Aid agencies continue to bypass local and national authorities in the delivery of assistance, while donors are not coordinating their actions or adequately consulting the Haitian people.”

Less than 5 percent of debris has been cleared, leaving enough to fill dump trucks parked bumper to bumper halfway around the world. In the broken building where the man was found, workers hired to clear rubble by hand found two other people’s remains.

Meanwhile, about a million people remain homeless and neighborhood-sized homeless camps look like permanent shantytowns on the fields and plazas of the capital. A cholera epidemic erupted outside the earthquake zone that has killed more than 3,600 people, and an electoral crisis threatens to break an increasingly fragile political stability.

The promise of a better Haiti remains just that.

“The problem is that at a certain point the international community gave the impression they could solve the problem quickly. … I think there was an excess of optimism,” said Ericq Pierre, Haiti’s representative to the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington.

Progress has been slow across the board, starting with the omnipresent rubble.

The U.S.-based RAND organization said donors and the Haitian government are responsible for more not being cleared. Haitian workers are not given personal equipment while heavy lifters have been blocked by customs officials at the border, the report said. The government has also not designated sufficient dumping space.

“Unless rubble is cleared expeditiously, hundreds of thousands of Haitians will still be in tent camps during the 2011 hurricane season” — which runs from June through November, the report said.

It does not help that the fees collected by customs officials — such as those blocking the large rubble-removing equipment — are one of the few bright spots in a Haitian economy that was already the worst in the hemisphere before contracting by 7 percent over 2010, according to the World Bank.

With nowhere to build, construction of new housing has barely begun. Even Oxfam said earlier this year it would be too complicated to address the key underlying issue of sorting out Haiti’s broken system of land ownership, where several people will hold seemingly equal claims to the same plot of land.

Internationally financed inspectors have certified houses where people can return, but indications are that few have — at best many of those leaving the sprawling camps are merely moving their shacks closer to where they used to live.

Meanwhile, only 15 percent of needed temporary shelters have been built, with few permanent water and sanitation facilities.

The owners of small construction materials businesses like Justin Premier, 43, should be raking in money. But most people in his neighborhood are just buying plywood to reinforce their tarps.

“It’s going to take a lot of time for us to come back where we were before,” Premier said.

The earthquake was an opportunity to completely remake a broken education system where only half of school-age children were enrolled, mostly in bad private schools that often charge predatory fees.

Plans from the Inter-American Development Bank for safer buildings and a unified Creole-language curriculum have not yet come to fruition.

Instead, schools have opened here and there. About 80 percent of children attending school before the quake are going to class again, said UNICEF Haiti Education Chief Nathalie-Fiona Hamoudi. UNICEF planned to build 200 semi-permanent structures to teach in, but only finished 88 by the end of 2010 because an ongoing cholera outbreak diverted its effort.

The reconstruction effort overall is hampered by the failure to deliver or spend billions of expected dollars in aid.

Americans donated more than $1.4 billion to help earthquake survivors and rebuild, but just 38 percent of that total has been spent to provide recovery and rebuilding aid, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of 60 major relief organizations.

Governments have not done better.

More than $5.3 billion was pledged at a March 31 donors conference for a period of 18 months. Only $824 million — about a quarter of the public money not including debt relief — has been delivered, according to former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s U.N. Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti. Some $3.2 billion in public funding is still owed.

The United States had originally pledged $1.15 billion for 2010, but moved nearly its entire pledge to 2011 following delays in Congress and the Obama administration.

Clinton was supposed to take care of the governments. In July he told AP he would contact donors the following week to remind them of their promises, and again expressed frustration when payment was slow through the summer and fall.

But as the year came to an end, even the United States — whose secretary of state is his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton — had paid just a fraction of what it promised, pushing off nearly $1 billion in money pledged for 2010 to 2011.

Bill Clinton has had three prominent, simultaneous roles in Haiti’s rebuilding: co-chair of the reconstruction commission with Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive; U.N. special envoy for Haiti; and head of his Clinton Foundation, a major donor. But on his recent trips to Haiti he has been left merely expressing frustration that more is not getting done.

Bellerive said he is disappointed by the slow delivery of funds. He said the delays may be caused by uncertainty surrounding the question of who will succeed outgoing President Rene Preval.

“Perhaps some donors say, ‘Let’s wait until we know exactly who will be there for the next five years,'” he said.

Preval’s government, weak to begin with, was decimated and never really recovered. Ministries were relocated but were not able to replace vast numbers of staff killed in the quake or the material lost in the destruction.

Preval has been seen by most Haitians as ineffective at best, and many observers have criticized him for being responsible for a lack of leadership within Haiti.

“Everyone is talking about the resilience of the Haitian people, and everyone is taking advantage of that resilience,” Bellerive said. “It’s going to end. Success for me is to do the basic, the minimum, so we can really build a future. And we have to do it right now.”

As the Wednesday anniversary arrives, Haitians will remember that day of sorrow with a Mass in front of the destroyed cathedral, still in ruins.

In an Op-Ed to Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste newspaper, Pierre asked that on the anniversary itself, foreigners leave Haitians alone.

“I ask only one day per year, from 2011 on, to enable us to mourn our dead … to try to understand how and why we got where we are,” he wrote. “We need to find some peace.”   (*)

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in World News

 

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