When the earthquake struck on 12 January, the poorest country in the Americas was devastated. The world rallied, but not for long – much of the promised aid has not materialised. And while their Haiti government falters, many of the 1.5 million displaced Haitians are still sleeping rough…
by Peter Beaumont / guardian.co.uk
Most of the 13,000 US troops who were dispatched to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the disaster have gone, their mission ended on 1 June. The paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne, who helped keep order and guard food distributions, have returned to North Carolina. The hospital ships that provided medical treatment to thousands have gone back to their home ports. A few hundred soldiers remain involved in reconstruction projects or with helping to keep the docks that are Haiti's lifeline running.
The scores of aid agencies that were either based there before, or rushed to the scene of the catastrophe, are now in transition from emergency relief to more long-term projects supporting the population in everything from food to sanitation. There are big agencies like the UN and Médecins Sans Frontières, as well as church groups and tiny one-man bands. Cubans, Venezuelans and Israelis. Volunteers from Boston, London and Sydney. In the immediate aftermath the ranks of the International Medical Corps (IMC) were swollen by hundreds of volunteer nurses and doctors from across America, who came to work two-week long shifts to help Haiti's medical services cope with an estimated 300,000 injured. Now the IMC is scaling back its emergency effort to concentrate on the primary healthcare support it provided to Haiti's clinics before the earthquake occurred.
Pledges of billions of dollars in aid from the international community remain unfulfilled, with only a fraction of the more than $5bn promised so far delivered. The delivery of crucial building materials has also been delayed. The Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission, set up under the chairmanship of former US president Bill Clinton, met last month for the first time.
"Please Help Us." - Six months later Jerry's new mural speaks of a different anguish: an angry frustration widespread among Haitians that, despite the huge emergency response in the wake of the catastrophe and the promises of billions, they have been abandoned. A desperate place before the earthquake struck, despite the brief moment of international attention it has become more desperate still. The smell of death may be gone but Haiti is still dying.