US Envoy to Haiti Urges Patience on Disaster Recovery

Posted March 16th, 2012 at 4:40 am (UTC-5)
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The U.S. ambassador to Haiti says the reconstruction efforts from the devastating 2010 earthquake will take years to complete.

In an interview with VOA's Creole Service, Kenneth Merten compared the pace of reconstruction efforts in Port au Prince to that of New York City's World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the 2011 terrorist attack. The January 2010 earthquake killed more than 300,000 people and left millions homeless. A cholera epidemic that followed the quake claimed several thousand more lives.

The ambassador says the reconstruction has been complicated by problems with Haiti's infrastructure — which was in poor condition before the disaster — and a “limited capacity of government,” as many officials were killed in the earthquake. He also noted the surprise resignation last month of Prime Minister Garry Conille after just seven months in his post.

Merten says he is proud the U.S. had a “very big, positive impact” in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, by helping deliver food, water and shelter to the victims.

The ambassador also told VOA there was no concern about two former Haitian leaders, Jean-Bertrand Aristide and former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier,living in their native land years after they were each forced into exile. Merten says the fact that both men are apparently staying out of politics is a sign that Haiti is a “mature, or maturing democracy.”