The "tent cities" are very dangerous for Haiti

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The "tent cities" are very dangerous for Haiti

The tent camps can reduce the Haitian economy to totally depend on foreign assistance.

We want to thank the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, for his visit to Haiti, this February 17, during a time of great pain for the Haitian people.

Indeed, this past January 12, the powerful tremor, which shook the country in its foundation, has been the cause of an immense devastation, deaths and wounded by the tens of thousands in our population that was already in so much misery.

Thus, we appreciate that the first President of France who visited our republic since the declaration of our independence had to do so as a gesture of sympathy towards the Haitian people, who are going through one of the most difficult periods in their history as a free people.

We also appreciate the fact that the French President stressed, in principle, that France and its people respect and wish that, in spite of the calamities caused by the seism, the Haitian people have to define for themselves, in all their sovereignty and independence, the way they want their country to be rebuilt with the support of the international community.

We would not expect any less from the leader of a major country like France, which has traditionally been and has remained always a forceful defender of human rights around the world.

Furthermore, we congratulate President Sarkozy to come in support of the decentralization of Haiti and for not having subscribed to the intent of President René Préval to transform Port-au-Prince into a vast refugee camp, which in fact would condemn the Haitian capital to become the largest refugee camp of the world.

We can do without such label, given that Haiti is already shamefully regarded as being one of the poorest countries in the world and, thanks to the Préval government ways of doing things, the situation has been already getting worse, day by day. Moreover, with the almost total destruction of Port-au-Prince, which represented a concentration of approximately 72% of the productive and administrative capacity of the country, the seism brought to the forefront the urgency to decentralize towards the other provincial cities and to no longer hold desperately into the old formula, which consists of concentrating more than a third of the population in Port-au-Prince.

We are also very much concerned about the situation of the hundreds of thousands of homeless people who live haphazardly in the public parks and on the streets of the capital city, where the supply of food and water is overburdened and lacking, the sanitary conditions are worsening, diseases are spreading and the risks of epidemics are on the rise. We are all the more worried because the rainy season is approaching and will be followed by the hurricane season, which is likely to be very rigorous this year, based on the latest forecasts.

Therefore, how can anyone justify that President Préval is still continuing his project to house in camps, in the capital city, more than one million of our brothers and sisters?

One can only believe that the lure of making money, which would greatly benefit certain racketeers, off the back of these earthquake victims, is stronger than any feeling of compassion that should compel any responsible government to do all it can to prevent endangering this population, once again.

In view of some facts, it's fair to blame the government negligence as being the main responsible for a great number of the deaths, since they could have been avoided.

Indeed, if the program of decentralization, which had started before the arrival in power of President Préval, had continued, there would have been fewer casualties at the time of the seism.

At the crossroads of its History, we hope that Haiti will come out better of this dire situation.

We hope it benefits from the visit of President Sarkozy and consequently from the improvement of the relationship with France.

As such, the promises made by President Sarkozy to substantially and immediately increase the French assistance should be used to fulfill some expectations and to demonstrate the solidarity of the French people with the Haitian people.

The two countries should, indeed, explore new possibility of continuing to build a harmonious relationship, which will be beneficial to the economic development and to the improvement of the living conditions of the Haitian people, which was struck, one more time, by a natural disaster.

Paul Gustave Magloire

Former Minister of Interior

President of MORN Haiti

Paul G. Magloire, March 25 2010, 2:23 AM

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