Moral Outrage
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Oxfam slams Haiti quake recovery “quagmire”

Reconstruction has barely begun in Haiti a year after its catastrophic earthquake, a leading international charity said in a report sharply critical of a recovery commission led by former President Bill Clinton.

There was a tremendous outpouring of support from around the world after the January 12 quake that devastated much of the poor Caribbean country’s capital, killing about a quarter of a million people and leaving more than a million homeless. But the report by UK-based Oxfam, while acknowledging that disaster recovery can be slow even in developed countries, said efforts in Haiti had been paralyzed by a lack of leadership from the Haitian government and the international community.

“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.

Money is part of the problem, Oxfam said. The report cited U.N. figures showing that less than 45 percent of the $2.1 billion pledged for Haiti’s reconstruction during 2010 at an international donor conference in New York in March had actually been disbursed.

More importantly, the report said a reconstruction commission chaired by Clinton and Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive had fallen short in many crucial areas.

Apart from this, Dr. Unni Karunakara, president of the International Council of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), also asked in Britain’s Guardian newspaper why so many Haitians, in a country filled to overflowing with as many as 12,000 foreign aid groups, had died of cholera, a disease that is easily treated and controlled.

[Reuters]

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