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Eight months after Haiti earthquake, a nation hangs on

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Arnulfo Franco/AP/File

(Read caption) In this photo taken Aug. 25, men remove rubble from a building destroyed by the Jan. 12 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. By some estimates, only 2 percent of the 250 million cubic meters of debris in Port-au-Prince has been cleared.

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Almost eight months after a devastating earthquake killed up to 300,000 and left some 1.5 million Haitians homeless, recovery has been slow. Equipment to remove some of the 20 million cubic meters of rubble that for months have lined the capital’s streets has finally arrived. The displaced continue to live in overcrowded camps, well into a hurricane season that has caused no major damage but regularly brings heavy rains.

“There is a real threat that temporary camps will turn into permanent slums,” says Julie Schindall, a spokesperson for Oxfam, one of 800 NGOs operating here. “The government has a responsibility to implement a resettlement plan and they have to do it now."

In August, at the second meeting of the country’s Interim Reconstruction Commission, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive – who co-leads reconstruction efforts with former US President Bill Clinton – announced $1.6 billion worth of projects that are supposed to jumpstart the country’s ravaged economy, including investments in education and job creation outside the capital.


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