Haiti news updates courtesy of L’Agence Haitienne de Presse (AHP)
From time to time, AHP, translates some of its news items into English. I will post translated news updates to this blog as I receive them. If you read French, you can find the following stories and more at the AHP website noted below:
AHP News – Unofficial English translation – February 10 and 8, 2010 –
Government expert outlines plans for temporary shelter – Haitian psychiatrist stresses need for trauma treatment – President Préval urges unity and solidarity, describes current plans –
Please see the official website of AHP News/ Radio Solidarité at www.ahphaiti.org
Port-au-Prince, February 10, 2010 – (AHP)- Charles Clermont, the engineer and economist heading the Haitian government commission responsible for temporary shelter said Wednesday that the government expects to be in a position before May to offer temporary shelter along with a generally more tolerable situation to the 1.1 million survivors who are now living in the streets.
This would include providing greater protection against problems such as bad weather and disease, he said.
However Mr. Clermont pointed out that the Haitian government has only received 49,198 of the 200,000 tents it has requested from the international community, and only 15,000 of these tents are available in Haiti as of today.
Beyond the May timeframe, the engineer said the government will set up mechanisms for the construction of transitional housing that will provide shelter for earthquake survivors over the next five years.
The death toll from the January 12th disaster is now set at 270,000 people according to a statement issued Wednesday in Quito, Ecuador, by President Préval. The previous estimates provided Tuesday in the capital indicated 230,000 had perished.
Port-au-Prince, February 10, 2010 – (AHP)- Haitian psychiatrist Eseulson Elyzée said Wednesday that everyone who has been affected by the January 12th earthquake should be able to receive psychological assistance. Dr. Elyzée, whose practice is located at the Mars and Kline Psychiatric Center in Port-au-Prince explained that neither money nor humanitarian aid and temporary shelter are enough to enable the survivors to recover from such a tragedy.
” It is necessary for those who have experienced this tragedy, who lost family members, loved ones, and everything they had accumulated over the years, to have access to psychiatric services”, said Dr. Elyzée. Otherwise, he observed, the victims are at great risk of profound emotional distress leading to a variety of illnesses, as well as the possibly of bizarre or even violent behavior.
The psychiatrist recommended at least a four week course of psychological assistance, however, due to the fact that some individuals might have particular types of reactions to the tragedy, six months of therapy would help them accept their situations and begin to find a way forward.
Eseulson Elyzée offered to provide psychiatric services at the Center free of charge to those who are in need.
Le président René Préval appelle les différents secteurs de la societé à se mettre ensemble dans la solidarité et la discipline pour construire une nouvelle Haïti
Port-au-Prince, February 8, 2010 – (AHP)- As the official month of mourning in memory of the hundreds of thousands of victims of the great earthquake approaches its February 12th closure, President René Préval appealed to all Haitians Monday to join efforts in solidarity and discipline to build a new Haiti.
The situation is not easy either for the suffering population nor for the government, working under extremely difficult conditions, said the president, whose government is facing widespread criticisms of “inefficiency” from survivors and other sectors, who also criticize the handling of humanitarian aid by the Non-Governmental Organizations.
Emphasizing that this is the greatest catastrophe ever to strike Haiti, René Préval asked the public to continue to show patience, declaring that Haiti shall not perish.
Mr. Préval also stressed the need to decentralize the country. In order for this to happen, he said, Port-au-Prince, which suffered the brunt of the losses of some 250,000 homes and public buildings, can not be rebuilt as it was previously, and thus economic activities must be created in the rest of the country.
“Social services also should be developed in the provincial cities in order that the residents will agree to move or remain there. For this reason a series of project contracts were signed after January 12th in areas such as bridge and road infrastructure, said the president. Work that was underway prior to the earthquake, such as the road between Cayes and Jérémie should be expedited, he added.
Following the conclusion of the official period of mourning on February 12th, religious ceremonies will be held through February 17th in several regions of the country, particularly in Port-au-Prince to honor the memory of all who perished as well as to celebrate their lives.
Mr. Préval thanked the representatives of the various religious communities, media associations and civil society sectors which collaborated with the Interior Ministry in organizing these religious events.
Funerals will be held for the many hundreds of people who remain under the rubble or who were dumped into mass graves without any ceremony.
The president reiterated his condolences to all Haitians and foreigners who lost family members and loved ones in the catastrophe.
Mr. Préval thanked MINUTAH along with the entire United Nations system and the international community for their incalculable aid. But he went on to pay special tribute to the Haitians who did everything they could to rush to assist their brothers and sisters in difficulty. He thanked the crews that distinguished themselves in cleaning up the streets, distributing food and water, supplying fuel, setting up temporary shelters and assessing sites of destroyed buildings in order to prepare for reconstruction which is expected to cost more than $3 billion.