HAITI: Thousands Observe National Day of Mourning, Pres. Preval Vows “Haiti Will Not Die”

Posted on February 12, 2010

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Thousands of Haitians gathered at the Presidential Palace today in observance of  the National Day of Mourning in honor of those that died in the earthquake.  The death toll is now estimated to be close to 230,000.

 

‘Haiti will not die’ vows country’s president
 
By Sheldon Alberts and Thandi Fletcher, Canwest News ServiceFebruary 12, 2010 4:44 PM

As Haitians held a national day of mourning Friday for victims of the massive Jan. 12 earthquake, U.S. officials warned “the humanitarian crisis is far from over.”

An estimated 212,000 people were killed when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Haitian capital.

A ceremony was held in the city centre of Port-au-Prince where hundreds of thousands of people continue to live in squalid conditions.

“Haiti will not die, Haiti must not die,” President Rene Preval vowed on Friday during a televised address.

In Washington, officials said millions of Haitians are still struggling to obtain basic shelter and medical care.

“This remains an urgent humanitarian emergency,” said Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, who is overseeing the Obama administration’s response to the earthquake.

Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, speaking to the Reuters news agency, this week made the frank admission that Haitian officials “still don’t have a clear vision of . . . how we are going to relocate all those people.”

Port-au-Prince remains a capital overflowing not only with rubble from thousands of collapsed buildings but also growing mounds of trash that filled drainage canals running through the city.

Still, the humanitarian situation has improved markedly from even two weeks ago, Shah said.

The early chaos and desperation marking food and water supplies has given way to far more orderly delivery, said Shah.

“We’ve made significant progress in the areas of water and food, where we now estimate that nearly all people in need are getting access to water through a variety of sources, some humanitarian, some through private markets,” he said.

The UN World Food program is now handing out two-week rations of food to an estimated 200,000 people a day, with priority given to women through a coupon system.

To date, Shah said, more than 1.6 million people have been fed. The basic food packages have mostly included supplies of rice, but will be increasingly expanded to include cooking oils, beans and rice.

“The process has been orderly, has prioritized food distributions to women and has been an effective one that will continue,” he said.

It’s estimated that more than 1.2 million people were left homeless by the earthquake, and about 400,000 people have migrated out of Port-au-Prince into homes in cities outside the capital.

A total of $145 million had been raised through charities across the country.

“The outpouring of contributions and fundraising efforts have extended far beyond expectations,” International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said earlier this week during a news conference at the Canadian Red Cross Headquarters.

“Canadians are continuing to demonstrate that they have been deeply moved by the impact of the earthquake in Haiti and have contributed generously. . . . It makes me proud to be a Canadian,” she said.

A total of 29 Canadians died in the quake with another 63 Canadians still unaccounted for.

With files from AFP
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