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Chaos and cholera hamper Haiti reconstruction

One year after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, conditions remain “catastrophic”, according to Swiss aid agencies on location.

This content was published on January 6, 2011 - 09:29
swissinfo.ch and agencies

“Our help in Haiti is still just a drop in the ocean. The best we can do is improve the conditions for families, quarters or whole villages,” said Alain Geiger from Swiss Solidarity, a fundraising charity led by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo.ch’s parent company.



But the Swiss Red Cross points out that for people with cholera, such “drops” can be the difference between life and death.

“Conditions here are catastrophic. People are dying like flies,” said Martin Weber, a doctor who has worked with the Swiss Red Cross for 30 years.

“The battle against cholera is a battle against time. Because there are no streets in Haiti sick people can’t leave the country. Medical aid must be given on the spot, but helicopters are being refused entry.”

According to official figures, 3,300 people have died from cholera and 150,000 are ill, but Weber believes these numbers are much too low.

On January 12, 2010, a quake devastated much of the poor Caribbean country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, killing about a quarter of a million people and leaving more than a million homeless.

But on Wednesday a report by British-based Oxfam, while acknowledging that disaster recovery can be slow even in developed countries, said efforts in Haiti had been paralysed by a lack of leadership from the Haitian government and the international community.

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