Death toll surpasses 230,000; Displacement “could last a decade”

Last Tuesday, Haiti’s communications minister Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue confirmed that the number of deaths from the January 12th earthquake has passed the 230,000 mark, the same death toll as the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. This does not include the numerous victims who were buried by family members. The final number can be significantly higher as diseases attributed to crowded, lack of clean water, and poor sanitation conditions, begin to claim lives. Malnutrition, diarrhea-related sickness, and severe respiratory infections are fast becoming Haiti’s next immediate crisis.

Last week, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive estimated that it could take up to 10 years to rebuild the quarter million houses that were destroyed. He projected that it would take three to four years for the country to reestablish a sense of normalcy comparable to before the quake. Reuters reports, “Haiti remains in a precarious situation with no clear idea of how to house 1 million people living in the streets.” Currently, there are more than 500 displacement persons’ camps around the capital.

On her recent trip to Haiti, UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie met with earthquake survivors and reflected: “Every day, the UN, governments, NGOs and local organizations are providing more people with protection, food, water, shelter and health care, yet the needs are still enormous and the displacement could last a decade.”

In addition, funding for certain sectors of immediate humanitarian relief still fall short of the demonstrated need. According to the UN Office of Humanitarian Affairs, only six percent of post-earthquake nutritional funding for women and children has been met. Agricultural needs are only eight percent funded, and security needs are only fulfilled by six percent.

Also, the Red Cross has issued a one-month progress report on its relief efforts here.

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