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Haiti gets wake-up call via foreign aide

Published 11:00pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just in time for the third anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, Canada’s principal foreign aid minister, Julian Fantino, delivered a wake-up call to that country’s government by declaring that he was placing future foreign aid to Haiti “on ice” because he was not satisfied with its progress toward recovery.

Given that Haiti would collapse without foreign assistance, his comments got the immediate attention of the government and Haiti’s international partners.

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe pointed out that the magnitude of the disaster was so great — 42 public buildings destroyed, more than 300,000 killed, and total damages of about $12.5 billion — that recovery was bound to be a slow and painful process.

In many ways, Lamothe is right. Fantino’s judgment doesn’t give Haitians enough credit for what they’ve accomplished under the most trying circumstances. The government has neither received nor spent most of the international aid destined for that country; non-government organizations got most of it. And only about half of the $5.3 billion in promised funding from international donors has been delivered.

Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy inflicted more damage on the island in 2012, even as the government continued to fight the spread of a cholera epidemic.

More important, Haiti has indeed made undeniable progress in some areas. …

The U.S. government can do its part by speeding up the family reunification process. Homeland Security has already approved family-based visa petitions for 106,312 Haitians, but the waiting period to enter this country of 2 ½ to 12 years makes little sense.

Expediting the process would lessen the misery in Haiti and possibly save lives. Haitians could receive no better news than this from the U.S. on this third anniversary of the devastating earthquake.

The Miami Herald

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