It has been one year since the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti. World attention vividly captured the impact of that tragedy through television and a lot of people around the world sent contribution to help the people of Haiti. Billions of dollars were pledged by Western countries to help Haitians rebuild and resettle.
But that has not been enough and Haiti is still suffering. In the last weeks the international media outlets are looking for who is accountable and they seem to have aid organizations in their sights.
There has been a lot of blame heaped on NGOS for not making enough progress, and it might be partially deserved, but there are many more factors.
After the 2004 Tsunami catastrophe, it took five years to resettle one hundred fifty thousand people.
But Haiti’s disaster is different and the magnitude quite higher. Most experts agree the Haiti situation is the most challenging humanitarian disaster ever.
The feeling is though that that there should have been more done in the last twelve months. Clearly there have been failings. This theme has also been adopted by politicians and aid agencies all blaming one another.
But this search for accountability and its endless probing of the last twelve months ignores the other major issues – the brutal colonial exploitation suffered by Haiti and persistent post-colonial oppression.
Further, it makes sense that nations providing aid would work in cooperation with the reconstruction commission of the afflicted country. But Haitian members of the interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission have complained that their recommendations are completely bypassed by international donors and governments.
So far 5% of the rubble has been removed and projections are it will take twenty years to clear the rest of it.
In this week of reflection, we should examine anew how to help the millions of Haitians whose lives remain tattered by the catastrophic event.
It is time to stop the finger-pointing and ensure that Haitians are finally permitted to control their own country’s political dynamic and humanitarian response to the catastrophe.