Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Misery

A Haitian woman stands by a shelter she calls home in Canape-Vert, Haiti, on December 21, 2012. AFP Photo.

Haitian children. Photo by Thony Belizaire /AFP

A woman washing dishes outside her tent in Haiti. Image credit: http://www.caritas.org.nz/where-we-work/emergencies/haiti-earthquake

Nearly three years after the earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless in Haiti in January 2010, and despite billions of dollars spent – and billions more allocated but unspent – post-earthquake reconstruction has barely begun and more than 350,000 Haitians continue to languish in nearly 500 tent camps.

Residents in these refugee camps say hunger and want wil mark the holiday, like every other day of the year. The poverty is no greater at Christmas time, but the pain and humiliation of doing without comes into sharp contrast during a season dedicated to gift-giving and merriment in this predominantly Catholic country. As one resident, Fritzner Dossous – who also helped organize security for his camp, which from time to time, has been attacked by unknown assailants – said, “Nobody works here. There is abject poverty. People have been brought down to the lowest place in their lives.”

UNICEF has failed miserably because the Haitians still suffer. And whilst the rest of the world celebrates Christmas, Haitians can only pray. Even so, will their prayers be answered? Does anybody care?

The Star (December 25, 2012, p 20) reported that yesterday, Justice Amelia Tee Hong Geok Abdullah granted a stay of execution on a student activist’s jail sentence pending an appeal and was released on bail which was set at RM5,000 and with the additional condition that the student, Umar Mohamad Azmi attend subsequent court appeal proceedings.

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