Slovak humanitarian aid for Haiti has finally reached its intended beneficiaries. After having spent almost a year held up in Haitian customs, the container has finally reached the Haitian people, helping over a thousand people to date.
The NGO Magna Children in Need distributed the Slovak aid in April. "The aid was distributed in several stages. The final recipients were the people who still live in tented camps following the [January 2010] earthquake," Magna’s executive director, Martin Bandžák, said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. Even after spending a long time in customs, the material was still in relatively good condition, he said, adding that the Haitians appreciated it very much, as many of the supplies are still scarce in the country.
Part of the shipment went to a local orphanage. The shipment of Slovak aid arrived in Haiti on March 25, 2010, and spent almost a year in customs. It consisted of nine tonnes of material worth almost €180,000. However, the delay was not unique to the Slovak shipment; hundreds of containers from other countries have been stuck awaiting customs clearance.
"It is extremely complicated to get anything done in Haiti. Everything you can do here [in Slovakia] within a week, takes a year over there," said Vladimír Krčméry, the Rector of the Bratislava College of Health and Social Work of St Elizabeth. NGOs in Haiti are often blamed for working too slowly, but Krčméry says that bribes are the main factor complicating the distribution of aid there. The country was hit by a 7.3-magnitude quake on January 12, 2010. The capital, Port-au-Prince, was completely destroyed. The number of resulting deaths is estimated to have been 300,000.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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4. May 2011 at 14:00