Friday, February 26, 2010

Quake Destroyed Half Haiti's GDP, says Préval

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (R) and Haitian President Rene Preval survey the earthquake damage, during a helicopter flight over Port-au-Prince.

The earthquake that hit Haiti last month destroyed up to 50 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to Haitian President René Préval, who puts the death toll from the disaster at between 200,000 and 300,000 thousand people.

Préval spoke after meeting his Brazilian counterpart Lula da Silva at a UN-Brazilian military base in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.

"What is important now is to strengthen the Haitian government," Lula said.

According to the United Nations, estimates show 5,000 schools were damaged or destroyed in Haiti. Emergency shelter, camp management and sanitation remain the top priorities.

Over a million Haitians are in still need of shelter assistance, of which a third have received some form of coverage in the form of plastic sheeting, tarpaulins and tents, says Kristen Knutson, a spokesperson for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Though OCHA currently has supplies for only 50 per cent of the Haitians that need shelter, more have been procured and are on their way, Knutson says.

These 232,000 extra tarpaulins and 22,000 tents "should allow us to achieve a greater than 100 per cent coverage of the targeted population", she estimates.

Source: RFI

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