OAS praises post-quake progress in Haiti
But Amnesty unconvinced
FOUR years after the earthquake which devastated Haiti, the leadership of the Organisation of American States (OAS) says the nation has become a place of perseverance, and opportunity.
Noting the anniversary of the tragedy that crippled the Caribbean nation on January 10, 2010, the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, and the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS and Chair of the Group of Friends of Haiti and the Haiti Task Force Albert Ramdin, described the progress in Haiti as "concrete" and "inspiring".
"We have seen the government and people of Haiti persevere, work through issues, find opportunities and secure results," said Insulza. "Today, although much remains to be done, Haiti can demonstrate concrete results and the journey is inspiring," he added.
Working with the Government of Haiti, private sector agencies, international partners, member states and observers, the OAS has provided technical support to the country in areas ranging from trade facilitation and business development to tourism and education, among others.
According to OAS Assistant Secretary General Ramdin, "The Government must be commended for the progress made. They have worked with a wide range of partners internationally, sub-regionally and locally and four years later business and development interests in Haiti have increased, education and training opportunities have been expanded, and in concrete terms, more than 1.3 million Haitians have been moved out of tent camps and into safer housing."
"The work continues for everyone. There is a long road ahead for Haiti, but progress always starts with a single step," Ramdin added.
The OAS' point of view notwithstanding, Amnesty International has lamented the fact that more than 170,000 people are still living in more than 300 displacement camps four years after the earthquake.
The disaster killed around 200,000 people and left some other 2.3 million homeless in Haiti.
"More than 170,000 people are estimated to still be living in more than 300 displacement camps, in the majority of cases in appalling conditions with no access to essential basic services such as clean water, toilets and waste disposal. While the dire sanitation conditions leave them exposed to the risk of cholera and other diseases, the lack of solid shelters makes them vulnerable to flooding and other adverse weather conditions, especially during the hurricane season," a statement from Amnesty said.
"It is outrageous and unacceptable that tens of thousands are still suffering in despair," said Chiara Liguori, Amnesty International's researcher on the Caribbean. "Four years on, the Haitian Government is not delivering on its obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing in Haiti".
But Secretary General Insulza and Assistant Secretary General Ramdin are confident that political stability, good governance and democracy will contribute to continued growth in Haiti.
"In this regard, I am encouraged by the steps taken by the Government, the legislative organs and other stakeholders to hold overdue senatorial and local elections as soon as possible. The OAS stands ready to assist and support the electoral process," Insulza said.