Rebuilding Haiti: Billions in Aid Promised at U.N. Event
As World Pledges More Aid, Americans’ Donations Sit Unused
By DAN HARRIS
April 1, 2010—
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon Wednesday called for more help for Haiti, and the world responded by promising $5.3 billion in aid in the next two years for rebuilding.
Ban called the response “far beyond expectations” of the U.N.’s goal for $3.9 billion in aid.
The United States government has promised $1.15 billion in aid. “We need Haiti to succeed,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at Wednesday’s meeting at the United Nations. “What happens there has repercussions far beyond its borders.”
U.S. Donations Sit Unused Since January’s earthquake, Americans have already given $800.9 million in private donations to help the country rebuild. The money has gone to 23 charities that ABC News has been tracking. Only about 37 percent of the money has been spent.
Nearly $588 million in donations is still sitting on the sidelines, as millions of Haitians continue to suffer. Charities say that spending too quickly would risk creating waste and robbing money from the long-term work that must be done. But while
they plan for the long-term, there is an immediate crisis. More than a million people are homeless and a fifth of them still have
no shelter, with the rainy season officially starting Friday and the hurricane season just around the corner. Already, tent cities have been slammed by torrential rains, creating a soggy new layer of misery that has alarmed aid workers.
“The biggest issue that we’re facing is simply shelter,” one worker said. “This country still faces a very grave crisis,” another said. “A very grave humanitarian situation.” Country Still in Crisis There are other needs, too.
There are still only 17 rehabilitation centers in the country, far too few to support the 1,500 amputations that have been performed since the quake. Of the 9,000 latrines needed, only about half have been built. There has been real progress, though, with U.S. dollars helping to fund the delivery of food to 4.3 million people and the delivery of more than 33,000 gallons of water to child care centers. The charities say that Americans who gave money should be confident that, by and large, it is being well-spent. They say the response has been much more effective and organized than what followed the 2005 tsunami in Asia. For example, the Red Cross has spent $100 million in less than three
months in Haiti, while it took six months to spend that much after the tsunami.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.