Two years later: Has the humanitarian effort in Haiti been enough?


On Cross Country Checkup: Haiti revisited

It's been two years since an earthquake turned Haiti's capital city to rubble, burying two-hundred thousand souls.

Canada opened its heart and wallet to help but has it been enough? What do you think of the effort ...and the result?

With host Rex Murphy, and guest David Morley, President and CEO, UNICEF Canada.

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It was a tragedy beyond tragedy.

This coming Thursday, it will be two years since an earthquake buried hundreds of thousands of Haitians in rubble ...and with it, brought down the tiny island-nation's government and economy.

When the earthquake struck Haiti the consequences were off any recongizable scale. More than 350-thousand people dead - the injured - and a million-and-a half displaced. It is impossible to carry an idea of the sum of pain, grief, hardship and despair such an event brings in its wake.

Canadians were among the first to respond especially after the Harper government had made the Americas the object of a renewed focus for Canadian foreign aid. And don't forget how Canada's popular -- and Haitian-born -- head of state, Governor General Michaelle Jean, seemed publicly to take on the weight of the tragedy personally. The effect was dramatic. Media coverage was round-the-clock. The military was dispatched. Canadians dug deep into their pockets. Many organizations and individuals with disaster skills jumped on the first available flights carrying both aid ...and hope.

In Haiti the scale of the disaster seemed to defy any optimism. A struggling country already beaten by multiple hurricanes in the months before ....then reduced to piles of rubble.

It was not just Canada that responded, the world turned its attention. Billions of dollars were pledged. Humanitarian flights quickly became stacked up at Port-au-Prince airport which lacked the capacity to handle so much traffic. The damaged port faced similar problems.

Well, two years later we'd like to check back in. Some say our expectations were perhaps too high and our attention spans too short? While Haiti slipped from the headlines thousands, of people have been hard at work trying to restore and rebuild. How has it been going?

Was the initial effort enough? Was it sustained enough? How easy is it to rebuild any country after a disaster of that scale? What are the problems unique to Haiti that make this endeavour more complicated?

Our question today: "Haiti 2 yrs later: What do you think of the humanitarian effort ...and the results?"

I'm Rex Murphy ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • David Morley
    President and CEO UNICEF Canada.

  • Robert Fatton Jr.
    Julia Cooper Professor of Politics University of Virginia. Author of Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy (2002); and The Roots of Haitian Despotism (2007). He is also co-editor of The Future of Liberal Democracy: Thomas Jefferson and the Contemporary World (2004); and, Religion, State, and Society (2009).




Toronto Sun

Financial Post

The Economist

Toronto Star

Globe and Mail

New York Times


I was extremely proud and gratified by Canada's - and to a lesser degree the world's - response to the disaster in Haiti. Today I would be almost as equally disappointed in the lack of long-term concrete results and changes stemming from that response. Unfortunately, we can see similar issues in our own reserves, in southeast and southwest Asia, in much of Africa.

This is not to make light of the size of the disaster in Haiti as much as it is to question how our responses are invested in the aftermath in Haiti and elsewhere. We need to do a better job of ensuring that aid efforts are not band aid efforts but actually reduce the cycles that contribute to the size of these disasters in the first place.

Kenneth L. Cantor
Edmonton, Alberta

I am happy to say that we formed an ad-hoc group to raise money for Haiti after the earthquake. Although it took us some time to do our due diligence to determine who should get these funds, we did and decided to donate the money to to ONE X ONE. We were satisfied to see that they were working on constructing a hospital for children. If donors could adopt a culture of due-diligence with their aid money, I am sure that it will help in seeing the aid gets to the intended people.

Jean Walrond
Edmonton, Alberta

Haitians are a remarkable long suffering people who have been very ill-served by their governments and until the late 20th century  the world. The latter is changing but until they have a stable,truly democratic government major problems will continue.

Ron Armstrong
Victoria, British Columbia

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