$806 million pledged for Haiti earthquake relief

Almost a billion dollars is needed just to rebuild the 130,000 homes that were levelled. PHOTO: REUTERS

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - The international community pledged US$600 million (S$806.28 million) on Wednesday (Feb 16) to help rebuild Haiti's devastated south, where an earthquake killed more than 2,200 people six months ago.

"These contributions went well above our expectations," said Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, after the conclusion of an international summit in Port-au-Prince.

With a total estimated cost of US$2 billion over four years to build back the areas hardest hit by the August 14 earthquake, the US$600 million figure corresponds to only 30 per cent of the necessary funding, but is still higher than the 25 per cent that had been expected.

Almost a billion dollars is needed just to rebuild the 130,000 homes that were levelled.

Three out of four schools in the region were also destroyed or severely damaged, contributing to an estimated US$400 million cost for the education sector alone.

"These contributions, large and small, demonstrate that the international community is committed to a new approach to working with the Government and the people of this country," said Deputy UN Secretary General Amina Mohammed, who visited Port-au-Prince for the summit.

In 2010, after a devastating earthquake killed more than 200,000 people and destroyed the homes of a million and half Haitians, the international aid effort was poorly coordinated and inefficient.

Twelve years later, the city centre of Port-au-Prince - including multiple government agency headquarters and the presidential palace - has still not been rebuilt.

Lacking long-term plans for new housing, earthquake victims have also filled entire zones of the capital with makeshift lodgings that are highly susceptible to another natural catastrophe.

While Haiti is still mired in a political crisis following the assassination of its president Jovenal Moise seven months ago, the donors said that the funds will be properly managed to avoid corruption or embezzlement.

The investment fund, organised by the United Nations, "will ensure that donors' money is disbursed in a responsible, effective and considered manner, to bring the maximum possible transparency and impact in the lives of Haitians", said Ms Mohammed.

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