x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Haiti death toll 'reaches 200,000'

The Haitian prime minister Jean-Max Bellerive says the nation has been ravaged by "a disaster on a planetary scale".

A Haitian refugee at the National Stadium in downtown Port-au-Prince where the World Health Organization is  providing Dyptheria and Tetnus vaccinations.
A Haitian refugee at the National Stadium in downtown Port-au-Prince where the World Health Organization is providing Dyptheria and Tetnus vaccinations.

The death toll in the Haiti quake has swelled to 200,000, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said yesterday as angry protests over the slow arrival of aid flared on the rubble-strewn streets. More than three weeks after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake, Prime Minister Bellerive said his tiny Caribbean nation had been ravaged by "a disaster on a planetary scale" and detailed the tragic toll suffered by his people.

"There are more than 200,000 people who have been clearly identified as people who are dead," he said, adding that another 300,000 injured had been treated, 250,000 homes had been destroyed and 30,000 businesses lost. At least 4,000 amputations have also been carried out due to horrific crush injuries ? a shocking figure which is likely to strain the impoverished nation's already meagre resources for years to come.

Mr Bellerive said he has proposed the formation of an "emergency government" in Haiti to focus on the crisis, but insisted that the authorities, devastated as their ranks have been by the disaster, remained "in control of the situation". Despite a massive aid operation, a lack of co-ordination and the sheer extent of the damage have hampered the distribution of food and water leading to mounting tensions among a million people left homeless.

"The Haitian government has done nothing for us, it has not given us any work. It has not given us the food we need," Sandrac Baptiste said bitterly as she left her makeshift tent to join angry demonstrations yesterday. With tensions running high in the ruined capital Port-au-Prince, some 300 people gathered outside the mayor's office in the once upscale Petionville neighbourhood. "If the police fire on us, we are going to set things ablaze," one of the protesters shouted, raising a cement block above his head.

Another 200 protesters marched toward the US embassy, crying out for food and aid. The US has taken the lead in the huge relief effort, with some 20,000 troops, but on Wednesday a senior official at the US Agency for International Development faced tough questioning about Haitians livid over the pace of aid. * AFP