Haiti Earthquake Anniversary

The Huffington Post reports on various ceremonies held in Haiti to mark the second anniversary of the January 12 earthquake; the article highlights some of the ongoing rebuilding efforts. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

Haitians gathered in makeshift churches and even a United Nations supply base Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake, holding ceremonies that mixed remembrance with hope for a new beginning. [. . .] For its part, officials in President Michel Martelly’s government emphasized the need for education by inaugurating a new university in the north and announcing plans to rebuild a college specializing in science. “It’s a day when we remember and then we make the decision to move on, which is very, very Haitian,” Prime Minster Gary Conille told The Associated Press. “We bury the dead and go back to work immediately.”

Services on the national holiday ranged from roadside affairs to a government-organized observance near a mass grave north of the capital led by Martelly and attended by Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Duvalier, the former despot who made a surprise return to Haiti nearly a year ago, was flanked by his longtime partner, Veronique Roy, and former President Prosper Avril.

[. . .] Haiti’s government, Western embassies and foreign charity groups were targeted by criticism as a mobile wake drew several dozen protesters and wound through downtown Port-au-Prince, one of the hardest-hit areas in the quake. Carrying signs that called the government “imported,” the demonstrators focused on the need to house the 500,000 people still without homes. “We’re asking for the state to give us good homes because we really don’t have any,” Fritznel Joasil, 36, said.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille announced that the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund was donating $2 million in hopes others would match that for an effort to rebuild the University of Haiti’s Faculty of Sciences. “To build a modern economy, Haiti needs more engineers, architects, chemists, experts in information technology,” Clinton said. “This faculty will help to provide the means for you to build your own future.”

In northern Haiti, Martelly inaugurated a $30 million university built by the neighboring Dominican Republic. With 72 classrooms, the university will educate 10,000 students and hire hundreds of teachers, technicians, administrative and maintenance employees. It’s expected to open in September. Martelly said he hopes the university will lure hundreds of Haitian professionals from overseas to come back and lend their expertise.

On the northern end of Port-au-Prince, the United Nations held a service to remember its 102 employees, from senior officials to drivers, who died in the quake. It was the biggest loss of life for the U.N. in a single disaster. “Today we are here not to simply to remember those who were lost and the tragedy but to renew our commitment to Haiti’s future because we owe that to them,” Clinton, the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, said from a lectern. “There are genuine reasons for hope.”

For full article, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/haiti-earthquake-anniversary_n_1201655.html

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