Long-term commitment to Haiti sought

Tuesday 26 January 2010 19.54
Haiti - 200,000 tents needed
Haiti - 200,000 tents needed

GOAL has said the international community must remain committed to rebuilding Haiti 'for as long as it takes', following this month's devastating earthquake.

Haiti: Earthquake coverage/donation information
Photographs: Haiti in Pictures

Chief Executive John O'Shea said aid workers in Haiti had been doing their best in difficult circumstances, but that the Caribbean country had to be completely rebuilt.

He also recommended that an organisation or body be appointed to officially co-ordinate the relief effort.

Earlier, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has been hosting international talks on the reconstruction of Haiti, said it would take at least ten years to rebuild the country.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive yesterday said the world must map out a long-term strategy, after meeting immediate needs for food, water, shelter and health care.

'I just want to say that the people of Haiti will need to be helped to face this colossal work of reconstruction,' Mr Bellerive told world officials including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Donor countries will hold a full conference on aid to Haiti at the UN headquarters in New York in March.

Two weeks on from the earthquake in Haiti, aid agencies say they are still dealing with a disaster on a scale they have never seen before.

Aid is slowly making its way to people displaced from their homes, but many complain they need water, food and sanitation.

In some areas families whose homes stayed standing in the earthquake continue to sleep under homemade shelters.

They say they are afraid to stay inside at night and it is not safe to sleep in their homes.

The UN says 200,000 tents are needed before the spring rainy season arrives, and it is estimated that 800,000 need shelter.

An international task force hopes to repair the main seaport in Haiti's quake-stricken capital enough to handle 700 shipping containers a day by mid-February.

However, meeting that target will depend on the delivery of equipment to supplement the damaged pier, US Navy Admiral Sam Perez said in an interview at the port.

'We have to bring everything from the bulldozers to the people to the showers to the tents,' he said.

Cargo will continue to be unloaded onto the remaining pier while repair work continues, probably for the next 10 to 12 weeks, he said.

The pier is now handling about 30% of its pre-quake capacity.

If pushed, it could unload 200 to 250 containers a day, but debris is limiting the size of the ships that can enter the port.

Repairing the port is essential for both delivery of aid needed to help earthquake survivors and rebuild the country, but also for the resumption of commerce necessary to get Haiti's economy moving again.

Few shops are in any condition to reopen and most business is conducted street-side as vendors sell fruits and vegetables, charcoal, shoes and clothing obtained locally.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said that there will be a special collection for Haiti at all masses in the diocese on 6 & 7 February.

He added that any surplus money remaining after earthquake relief work will go to support parishes and religious institutions which have been destroyed in the disaster.

Elsewhere, the Hope for Haiti Now benefit raised an estimated $61m (€42m) for Haiti last Friday.