Canada dismisses Haiti aid critics, says much done

Mon Jul 12, 2010 2:09pm EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada dismissed criticism of the international reconstruction effort in Haiti on Monday, saying much is being done to help the impoverished country recover from the huge earthquake that hit it on January 12.

To mark the six-month anniversary of the quake, which killed about 225,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless, a number of Canadian and international media have noted how much work remains to be carried out.

Canada -- one of the largest aid donors to Haiti -- has so far spent C$150 million ($144 million) of the C$400 million it committed to the recovery effort over two years.

"To respond to (the) comment that nothing has been done -- certainly a great deal has been done ... the immediate basic humanitarian needs were met and they continue to be met," International Aid Minister Bev Oda told a news conference.

"There are millions of people receiving food, water, shelter. There are child protection centers up and running, some schools have been opened ... there have been no major disease outbreaks. Violence has been managed," she said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said he would soon meet former U.S. President Bill Clinton, co-chairman of the Haiti reconstruction commission, to obtain a clearer idea of what is happening on the ground.

Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, the other co-chairman, said in an editorial in the New York Times last Friday that while progress had been made, "we must -- all of us involved in Haiti's recovery -- do better".

($1=$1.04 Canadian)

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)