25 Jan 2010

Growing condemnation of quake effort in Haiti

10:54 pm on 25 January 2010

There is growing condemnation that the earthquake relief effort in Haiti is being ruled by big egos, with too much focus on high-profile efforts to save survivors rather than caring for the living.

Guido Bertolaso, the head of Italy's civil protection service, says there are too many egos involved and people are suffering as a result.

He also criticised American forces in Haiti, saying troops had no training in running a civilian relief operation, the BBC reports.

It is believed the quake on 12 January killed as many as 200,000 people. An estimated 1.5 million people have been left homeless.

Mr Bertolaso, who led the team which tackled the aftermath of the L'Aquila quake in Italy last year, arrived in Haiti on Friday.

He accused relief agencies of taking part in a "vanity parade" and said the entire international relief operation lacked leadership. He described the quake in Haiti as "a terrible situation that could have been managed much better".

Mr Bertolaso, a government minister, said it was logical and "commendable" for the United States to lead the relief efforts, but "too many officers" meant they had not been able to find a capable leader.

British charity Oxfam has also criticised one part of the recovery programme, saying that plans to relocate thousands of Haitians were wrong.

The charity told the BBC that people made homeless by the quake should not be made to live a long distance from their family homes.

Radio New Zealand's correspondent in Port-au-Prince, Nathan King, reports that many people are voicing their concern that the rescue effort has taken the wrong approach.

He said rescuers plucking 135 people from the rubble is wonderful and lifts the heartstrings of the Haitians and the world.

"But when you compare it to the need of the hundreds of thousands of dispossessed, a lot of people have been complaining that they could have saved more lives if they'd actually targeted the living."

People are also criticising United Nations workers in Haiti for not being active on the streets, he said.

Global help needed to rebuild economy - IMF

The International Monetary Fund says the world needs to pull together to help Haiti rebuild its economy.

IMF boss Dominique Strauss Kahn says the country's long-term outlook will be dim unless the current global outpouring of aid and support continues.

Mr Kahn is calling for something akin to the Marshall plan, which helped rebuild western Europe after the Second World War.

Capital death toll tops 150,000

The confirmed death toll from the quake is more than 150,000 in the capital Port-au-Prince area alone, according to the government's communications minister.

Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said the count was based on bodies collected in and around the capital by a state company, CNE.

Many more remain uncounted under rubble in the capital and elsewhere, including the towns of Jacmel and Leogane.

The search for survivors has officially ended and the focus has shifted to aid.

Ms Lassegue says authorities were still far from knowing the total number of those killed. On Saturday, she said the general hospital had received about 10,000 corpses, which it had handed to CNE for burial.

At least 75,000 people have been buried in mass graves. Relatives have also burnt the bodies of some of the victims.