Haiti earthquake anniversary

It is a year since a devastating earthquake shook the island of Haiti, killing hundreds of thousands of people. Twelve months later, more than a million are still living in overcrowded camps in need of life saving treatment

It is a year since a devastating earthquake shook the island of Haiti, but more than a million people are still living in overcrowded camps.

The earthquake that hit Haiti on 12th January 2010, killed more than 250,000 people and a further 3,651 have died due to a cholera outbreak in the aftermath of the destruction, leaving 170,000 in need of life saving treatment.

Children have been particularly badly affected with 3,000 still waiting to be reunited with their families, while 380,000 are surviving in tent cities.

‘Children in Haiti were already among the poorest and most vulnerable in the world even before the earthquake struck,’ says Gary Shaye from Save The Children. ‘Parts of the country have been totally destroyed, many of the people with whom we normally would have worked have been killed and the basic services that existed were wiped out.’

To mark the first anniversary of one of the worst natural disasters in recent history, aid agencies are highlighting the plight faced by the poverty-stricken Caribbean nation and the need for continued support.

‘Just clearing the rubble could take up many, many years,’ said Mr Shaye.

Oxfam say that less than five per cent of the rubble has been cleared to date and only 15 per cent of the temporary housing required has been built. There is still a great shortage of permanent, clean water and sanitation facilities.

Marie Claire caught up with Kate Crawford, a shelter field advisor for CARE. Having spent time in the earthquake-torn capital, she’s seen the devastation first hand but insists that despite the hardship, the Hatian people are staying strong:

‘Their resilience is extraordinary. Within hours of the earthquake, people were scrabbling together, using car jacks to raise concrete blocks and pulling children to safety. Others were cooking food and selling it on the side of the road.’

‘Although the physical destruction, the cholera outbreak and the recent election violence have battered Haiti in the past year, there is a real sense that life is restarting,’ says Kate.

‘When I first arrived in Haiti, 12 days after the earthquake hit, people were living underneath a sheet held up with four poles. We have now resurrected 3,000 shelters, housing more than 15,000 people,’ she says. ‘But this is just a drop in the ocean.’

Haiti

Agencies in Haiti are working hard to rebuild the destruction left behind by the earthquake a year ago, but Kate urges people to be aware that this is a long haul challenge. ‘Charities, big and small, desperately need continued support to make this transition sustainable.’

Melissa Gilchrist Higgins, Editor of Frontline Fashion, set up the Zanmi range, which donates 50 per cent of all profits towards foundation projects, which to begin with will be the construction of a dormitory and an orphanage on the earthquake destroyed Caribbean island.

Melissa says: ‘We mustn’t forget about our fellow friends in their time of need and if time and funds permit, give a little back to help their daily struggle.’

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