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In the Aftermath of Hurricanes, Haiti Situation is Critical

Monday, Oct. 20, 2008

A decade ago, when Hurricane Mitch devastated Central America, the world reacted with immediate, nearly unlimited generosity. Two weeks after that disaster, the U.S. already had pledged $263 million. Soon thereafter, Sweden hosted an international pledging conference that produced pledges of $9 billion to rebuild smarter and better.

By contrast, in barely three weeks beginning in mid-August, four hurricanes -- Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike -- lashed Haiti and the Caribbean, and the international response has been eerily muted. In Haiti, roads are still blocked, bridges are down, and the country's agricultural heartland is flooded. More than 800 were killed, 100,000 people are displaced and another 130,000 families suffered serious damage to their farms and homes. Local businesses are crippled. Food distribution to rural communities is critical but is nearly impossible because of the continuing mudslides. In hard-to-reach areas, there is a real danger of famine. ...

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