Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are struggling to survive. Six months after a devastating earthquake, conditions have barely improved.
January’s quake killed more than 200,000 people, and left survivors living in temporary tent cities, now looking more permanent.
There is nowhere to live or work.
This has many people wondering where the aid money is really going.
Lynda in North Billerica Declared Her Curiosity:
“With all the billions of dollars donated to Haiti and a fraction of it used, are charities making millions off the interest?”
As Ron Sanders found out, the interest will be spent in Haiti, but it will take years to distribute humanitarian aid there.
Boston-based Oxfam America says more than 1,300 spontaneous tent cities have sprung up around Port-Au-Prince.
While shelter has been distributed by relief workers faster than ever before and there is more access to potable water than before the quake, there are more than 1.5 million people without housing, according to Michael Delaney, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Response Director, who was in Haiti six weeks ago. “Long-term housing, land rights, where are people going to live in the long-term — Those things are going slower and those things we’re concerned about,” said Delaney.
When Luis Matnog of the Red Cross was in Haiti immediately after the quake, shelter was the initial need. “Now, it’s hurricane season and we need to put a lot of the people in higher ground,” explains Matnog.
Most of the $3.1 billion pledged for humanitarian aid in Haiti has paid for hospitals, food and relief workers.
While hundreds of millions have yet to be spent, relief agencies say the Haitian government is one of the roadblocks. “The government of Haiti was not a strong government. They got hit hard. Their buildings collapsed. They lost a lot of lives,” said Delaney, adding other roadblocks are…the roads. “Those roads need to be rebuilt. They either don’t exist or are in terrible condition.”
Only $10 million of the $28 million raised by Oxfam America for Haiti has been spent. The Red Cross has spent about $150 million of the $468 million it has raised for Haiti. But the agencies say the needs there are long-term and donations are still needed. “It’s an overwhelming process,” said Matnog.
The Red Cross expects to be providing humanitarian aid in Haiti for another three to five years. So does Oxfam America, whose humanitarian response director says the recovery there could take 10 years. Oxfam America is hoping after that 10 years passes, that Haiti will have rebuilt its buildings and its economy stronger before the quake. Eighty percent of Haitians lived on less than two dollars a day before the quake.
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