AP reporter Jonathan M. Katz got his hands on a Senate report about the rebuilding efforts in Haiti and the situation looks very, very bad for residents of the ravaged capital Port-au-Prince. Five months after a devastating earthquake, bureaucratic obstacles, foreign aid that’s a mere trickle and the potential for real political strife are hampering efforts to restore the capital and move people out of massive tent cities and into permanent homes. Says Katz:
Three weeks into hurricane season, with tropical rains lashing the capital daily, construction is being held up by land disputes and customs delays while plans for moving people out of tent-and-tarp settlements remain in “early draft form,” it says.
In all, just 2 percent of the $5.3 billion in near-term aid pledges have actually been delivered, up from 1 percent last week.
The legislature has almost entirely dissolved after members’ terms expired because the quake forced the cancellation of February legislative elections. [Haitian President Rene] Preval’s five-year term ends next February; an attempt to prolong his term by several months if elections are not held resulted in protesters clashing with police in front of the ruins of the presidential palace.
Failing to hold the November elections on time, even despite the losses of the electoral commission’s headquarters and records, could imperil “Haiti’s fragile democracy,” the report says.
Katz was the only full-time foreign correspondent based in Haiti when the earthquake struck in January. His reporting is reminder that while most media attention moves away from Haiti the sad story there continues.