Sun | May 24, 2015

Remembering the killer quake

Published:Sunday | January 13, 2013
Brothers sit on tyres as they eat rice during breakfast at a camp in Haiti for people displaced by the 2010 earthquake. - AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE, (AP):

The Haitian government yesterday staged a low-key ceremony for the third anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the country and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

President Michel Martelly presided over a subdued memorial on the grounds of the former National Palace, which was destroyed in the disaster and later demolished. Senior government officials and diplomats attended.

Martelly said he hopes the poor Caribbean nation's people use the anniversary of the January 12, 2010 disaster to think about how they can improve their lives.

"The main thing for me is to use this day to plunge Haitians into deep reflection," Martelly said.

"I need to bring my country, my people, enough reflection where they decide to do things in other ways."

Martelly gave a speech yesterday morning before going to a mass grave north of the capital to lay a wreath.

Former United States President Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, also visited the burial site.

Haiti's government says the quake killed about 316,000 people.

Impromptu settlements

An additional 1.5 million people landed in impromptu settlements around the capital and other cities in the south.

People have moved out of the more visible camps in public plazas, but there are still more than 350,000 people living in the camps, according to the International Organisation of Migration, a humanitarian group that helps people displaced by disaster and conflict.

The reconstruction effort has been slow to take hold, because of political paralysis, the level of devastation and a trickle of aid.

Only slightly more than half of the US$5.3 billion pledged by donors has been released.