Oxfam, Amnesty International Release Reports Almost One Year Since Haiti’s Earthquake

“A new report [.pdf] from international aid agency Oxfam says reconstruction work has barely begun in Haiti following the country’s catastrophic earthquake a year ago,” RTE News reports (1/6). Even in developed countries, disaster recovery can be a slow process, the report states. But it also “said efforts in Haiti had been paralyzed by a lack of leadership from the Haitian government and the international community,” Reuters reports.

“As Haitians prepare for the first anniversary of the earthquake, close to one million people are reportedly still displaced. Less than 5 percent of the rubble has been cleared, only 15 percent of the temporary housing that is needed has been built and relatively few permanent water and sanitation facilities have been constructed,” the report said. It notes a U.N. statistic revealing that less than 45 percent of $2.1 billion, pledged at a donor conference last March for reconstruction, has been given.

The report also said the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), which is being led by former President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, “had fallen short in many crucial areas,” according to the news service. “So far, the commission has failed to live up to its mandate,” the report said. “The commission is a key element for reconstruction and it must cut through the quagmire of indecision and delay,” it added. “Major stakeholders, including Bill Clinton, should urgently review the workings of the IHRC and speed up delivery of its mandate,” it said.

“Oxfam said it was difficult to be optimistic about progress” in Haiti in the short-term, Reuters writes (Delva, 1/5). In a press release, the organization noted the success of life-saving humanitarian efforts after the earthquake, but called for the “Haitian government and donors to break logjam and start reconstruction.”

“Rebuilding this shattered country will not happen overnight, but there are key decisions on jobs, clearing rubble, house repairs and allocating land for people who will not be able to return to their homes that can and must be made urgently. We now need the incoming government of Haiti to take its leadership role. The international community, including NGOs, must unite to support the government so that Haitian authorities will have a chance of succeeding,” said Roland Van Hauwermeiren, Oxfam’s country director in Haiti (1/6).

Amnesty International released a report (.pdf) on Wednesday highlighting the prevalence of rape in Haiti’s tent camps since the earthquake, the BBC reports (1/6). “Amnesty said little is being done to help … victims of rape and sexual violence, old woes for Haiti that worsened after the earthquake killed over 230,000 people, injured 300,000 others and flattened large tracts of the capital,” Agence France-Presse writes. “The destruction and death meant many women and girls lost the family and community networks that used to shield them from the threats they now face. Precarious living conditions in the camps further worsened their already dire situation,” the news service reports (Zeitvogel, 1/6).

More than “50 survivors of sexual violence shared their experiences with Amnesty International for the study,” according to an Amnesty press release. The organization found that more than 250 cases of rape in the camps were reported during the first 150 days following last year’s earthquake. “One year on, rape survivors continue to arrive at the office of a local women’s support group almost every other day,” the release states (1/6).

Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Haiti researcher, said: “For the prevalence of sexual violence to end, the incoming government must ensure that the protection of women and girls in the camps is a priority. This has so far been largely ignored in the response to the wider humanitarian crisis,” Sky News reports (Sinclair, 1/6).

PRI Reports On Quake Anniversary, Effort To Help Haitians Find Jobs

Public Radio International’s The World reports on two MIT students’ project to help Haitians get jobs using their mobile phones. The students from MIT’s Media Lab “developed a system called Konbit, a Creole word for a traditional kind of communal labor where skills are bartered among members of the community, for the good of the community. It is, essentially, a glorified phone tree for Haitians looking for work,” according to PRI (Boyd, 1/5).

A second show on PRI’s The World examines conditions in Port-au-Prince almost one year since the earthquake hit (Sharp, 1/5).

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