Afghan Chaos Hampers Haiti’s Bid to Raise Cash for Quake Victims
(Bloomberg) -- Haiti’s bid to raise funds for the more than 600,000 people affected by a massive earthquake is being hampered by the Afghanistan crisis, which has occupied the attention of the international community, officials said.
A day after a 7.2 magnitude quake hit Haiti on August 14, the governments of the U.S. and its allies were distracted by news that the Afghan capital had fallen to Taliban fighters.
“It’s really hard,” Simon Desras, Haiti’s Minister of Planning and External Cooperation, said of fund-raising efforts. “They have so many issues to deal with, especially the United States, our primary donor.”
The recovery effort is also being held back by insecurity and food shortages, Desras said in an interview in his office in Port-au-Prince Friday. While officials are still evaluating the destruction, the quake likely caused billions of dollars in damage along Haiti’s southwestern peninsula, he said.
The Caribbean nation was already reeling from the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7, as well as rampant gang violence, when the quake killed more than 2,000 people.
Desras says some people have “minimized” the destruction because it happened in the largely rural south -- unlike the 2010 quake that leveled parts of the capital.
The United Nations has made an emergency appeal for $187 million, and Haiti has received pledges of $32 million from the U.S., as well as offers from Taiwan and the E.U. for initial rescue efforts.
Earlier this year, the U.N. had launched a $235 million appeal driven by widespread hunger in Haiti -- but that funding request is only about one-third met, said Bruno Lemarquis, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.
“Historically, Haiti is one of the most underfunded response plans year after year,” he said. The global pandemic has only made it harder to raise funds, “and now you have the biggie of the month, which is Afghanistan, so there is huge competition.”
Desras said he hopes the funds that do come in will ultimately make Haiti more resilient and prepared for future crises.
“We are asking for support but not charity,” he said. “We need to be able to go by ourselves -- we need to help our people who are in misery.”
The U.S. and its allies are racing to evacuate citizens from Kabul, the Afghan capital, by August 31, amid threats of more violence after a deadly suicide bomb attack near the airport on Thursday.
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