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Thanksgiving in Haiti muted by much still to be done

16 January 2015

by a staff reporter

christian aid

Free school milk: 84 schools in Haiti receive milk and lunches under the World Food Program

Free school milk: 84 schools in Haiti receive milk and lunches under the World Food Program

FIVE years after the devastating earthquake that killed 220,000 people in Haiti, much has been achieved, but much more still needs to be done, relief agencies said this week.

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said that there was "abundant opportunity for thanksgiving" as a result of the efforts to rebuild communities destroyed by the magnitude-7 earthquake, which struck on 12 January 2010 (News, 14 January 2010). Established in 1861, the diocese of Haiti is the Church's largest, with 83,700 members and more than 100 parishes.

Speaking of the part that the Episcopal Church had played in the "renaissance" of Haiti, Dr Jefferts Schori said: "Haiti can and should emerge from its status as a least-developed nation in the hemisphere, if the world will keep its pledge and stay the course."

Much of the country's infrastructure was destroyed by the earthquake and has had to be rebuilt. More than 1.5 million people were displaced from their homes, and thousands were injured. Streets were full of rubble, and were closed to traffic for months.

Despite the huge relief and rebuilding efforts, many Haitians still lived in desperate poverty, Christian Aid said. Five years on, an estimated ten per cent are still living in tents or temporary housing.

Christian Aid's country manager, Prospery Raymond, who was in Port-au-Prince at the time of the earthquake, said: "The majority are trapped in poverty, with little access to basic services. More than 85,000 are still displaced, living in temporary camps. The country needs investment to build around 30,000 new houses a year for the next decade."

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