Thursday, December 16, 2010


(Toronto Sun) - By JESSICA MURPHY, QMI Agency

MONTREAL — International development organizations are defending their efforts in Haiti, saying despite an unprecedented crisis, they’ve succeeded in their main mission of delivering emergency aid.

“We have a duty to report our results,” admitted Oxfam-Quebec’s Michel Verret during a meeting of eight Quebec-based NGOs in Montreal on Wednesday.

He said that while construction is slow to start, thousands of Haitians have been kept alive with clean water distribution, medical services, health education and improved sanitation in the camps.

All this against a backdrop of a country that was desperately poor and disorganised before the January 12 earthquake that killed more than 230,000 people, including a third of government employees.

“Add to that the earthquake, tropical storms, cholera — understand, it’s not been easy,” Verret said.

“There are significant challenges.”

A snarled land-title system along with the sheer volume of debris clogging the streets in the capital Port-au-Prince is further hampering efforts, as well as the current elections, which were marred by violence and massive fraud.

“I’m just back from Haiti and things are very difficult on the ground,” said CARE Canada’s Marie-Eve Bertrand.

CARE Canada is now building transitory housing that will last from three to five years and serve some of the country's 1.3 million homeless, among other projects.

“We’ve just started our work and we’ll be there for years.”

Development and Peace has funnelled some of the $20 million in Canadian donations toward building some 1,700 permanent homes, getting children back to school and improving the safety of women in the camps.

“We’re working in a major crisis never before seen,” conceded Danielle Leblanc, who speaks for the organization.

“People have been working night and day since January 12 and we still don’t have our heads above water.”

Canadians made $220 million in private donations to the poorest country in the Western hemisphere in the months following the deadly tremor. The federal government pledged to match those donations.

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