By Linda Bordoni
Eight years after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti reports say that despite the efforts of the international community and of the people of Haiti, the situation is not much changed.
Eighth anniversary of earthquake
The quake that rocked the Caribbean island on 12 January 2010 was one of the biggest emergencies the Church’s humanitarian organization, Caritas, has ever dealt with. Over 300,000 people died as a result of the massive tremor and over a million people were left without a home.
In collaboration with other aid agencies, around 12 Caritas member organisations worked on the ground from immediately after the disaster and in the years that followed. The whole Caritas confederation and many people around the world gave their financial, material and spiritual support.
Haiti poorest country in the Americas
However the path towards a better life for Haitians is a long one. Haiti is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Access to food, education, healthcare, employment and many other things need to be improved to help true development.
Caritas in Haiti
Alessandro Cadorin heads the Caritas Italy in Haiti office in Port-au-Prince. He says much reconstruction was undertaken in the worst hit areas in disregard of earthquake-proof building standards.
He says development in Haiti is still a long way away in the country which is the poorest in the Americas and counts more than 60% of the population living below the poverty line.
Hurricanes and other disasters
“Moreover, he says, we must also consider the hurricanes that hit Haiti during the rainy season that cause massive damage” and impede development.
He recalls Hurricane Matthew in September 2016 which resulted in a huge disaster for the country.
UN missions in the country
Cadorin says the government is also dealing with serious security concerns especially since the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti was ended last October increasing the risk of instability, criminality and social disorder.
He explains that mission was replaced by the UN Mission for Justice Support which aims to support the judicial system and police training.
Cadorin also acknowledges that the election of Jovenal Moise as President in February 2017 has had positive effects, although in recent months there have been public protests against the new budget law which has affected even the poorest and most vulnerable.
Summing up, Cadorin says, Haiti continues to be a very poor country, enormously affected by corruption at all levels as illustrated, for example, by the recent agreement between Venezuela and Haiti to import oil.
He says that basic rights like education and healthcare for all are practically nonexistent and schools and clinics are privately run.
Cadorin concludes saying that “this results in a big gap between social groups, in other words inequality is extremely deep with few super-rich and the majority of the population below the poverty line without a chance to improve their economic and social status.”