Haiti: $252 million needed for humanitarian aid


Haitian President Jovenel Moise speaks on March 13, 2017 in Port-au-Prince offering condolences to the families of victims in the road accident that took the lives of 38 persons the previous day in Gonaives.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - The Haitian government and its international partners Thursday launched an appeal for $252 million(R3.1 billion) in aid to respond to natural disasters in 2018.

In 2017, Haiti was spared the impact of natural disasters which devastated other Caribbean islands -- but is still struggling to recover from past catastrophes.

Eight years after an earthquake killed over 200,000 people and ravaged the metropolitan area of the capital Port-au-Prince, more than 38,000 people remain in makeshift camps.

A year after Hurricane Matthew hit southern Haiti, over one million citizens there are still in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the government&39;s plan.

Meanwhile, since July 2015, 230,000 Haitians -- 16 percent minors -- have had to leave the neighbouring Dominican Republic following changes in immigration law, and aid is needed to help them resettle in Haiti.

The humanitarian response plan was created in partnership with UN agencies working in Haiti, but risks falling short of the needed funding, as it has in the past. In 2017, only 37 percent of the funds needed were raised.

"We are in a period of declining external aid. The government is now exploring how to achieve empowerment to finance recovery and make the transition to development," planning minister Aviol Fleurant told AFP.

On the topic of humanitarian aid, President Jovenel Moise has not hesitated to criticize the failure of aid programs to lift Haiti out of extreme poverty.

"Thirty years of assistance and several billion dollars spent by our international partners, mostly to finance small non-structural projects, have sadly demonstrated their limit," he said in a speech Monday.