150,000 Bodies Buried in Haiti; Death Toll Could Top 300,000
Haitian authorities say more than 150,000 bodies have been buried in Haiti since the devastating January 12th earthquake. Haiti’s Communications Minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue suggested the death toll could rise to 300,000. Lassegue said, “Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble.” As many as 800,000 Haitians are now homeless in the capital of Port-au-Prince. To deal with the housing crisis, Haitian officials have announced plans to house 400,000 survivors in tent cities outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, but the International Organization for Migration said it could take weeks to search out sites suitable for the tent cities. The organization says 100,000 tents are still needed. An estimated 200,000 residents of Port-au-Prince have already fled for the countryside or other cities in Haiti. Up to 100,000 people have returned to the region around the coastal city of Gonaives in northern Haiti, a city abandoned by many after two devastating floods in six years. Many survivors of the earthquake have still not received medical attention. Dr. Mill Etienne is a Haitian American neurosurgeon aboard the US Navy’s floating hospital, The Comfort.
Dr. Mill Etienne: “Many of these patients, because their legs, for example, were crushed a week ago, they didn’t get immediate medical attention. A lot of them were stuck in a building or a house for two, three, four, five days before they were discovered. So what happens is, for a lot of those patients, their legs are dying. And having that dead leg there puts you at increased risk for infection. And that infection in the leg can actually kill the patient. So we are having to do a lot of amputations.”
Oxfam Calls for International Community to Cancel Haiti’s $890 Million Debt
Haiti’s Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others will take part in closed-door talks today in Montreal to map out key priorities for rebuilding Haiti. Oxfam is calling on foreign ministers attending the talks to cancel Haiti’s outstanding $890 million international debt.
Hope for Haiti Telethon Raises $57 Million
On Friday, the Hope for Haiti telethon was broadcast across the United States. The event, organized by George Clooney, raised $57 million for relief organizations in Haiti.
So far the world’s nations have pledged some $1 billion in emergency aid to Haiti. The amount of money being sent to help Haiti pales in comparison to the US war budget. In 2007 the economist Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes estimated the war in Iraq was costing the United States $720 million a day.
Number of Children in Poverty in US Increases by 2.5 Million Since 2000
A new report on child poverty has found more than 13 million American children now live in families with incomes below the official federal poverty level of $22,000 a year for a family of four. The number of American children living in poverty has increased by 2.5 million over the past ten years. The National Center for Children in Poverty says another 16 million children live in low-income families but are ineligible for public benefits because they live in households that earn slightly more than $22,000 a year.
Japanese Voters Back Anti-US Base Mayoral Candidate
The Pentagon’s plans to open another military base on the Japanese island of Okinawa has been dealt a setback. Voters in the city of Nago have elected a mayor who campaigned on a promise to oppose the base. The US has more than 47,000 troops in Japan; half of them are in Okinawa.
Netanyahu: Israel Will Retain Parts of West Bank Forever
In news from the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would retain parts of the occupied West Bank forever. Netanyahu made his comment just hours after meeting with George Mitchell, the Obama administration’s Middle East envoy. Speaking at a settlement south of Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, "Our message is clear: We are planting here. We will stay here. We will build here. This place will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel for eternity.”
Haitian Activist Jean Montrevil Released from ICE Detention
And prominent Haitian community activist has been released from jail after being held for three weeks in detention by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Jean Montrevil’s scheduled deportation was indefinitely put off after the earthquake in Haiti. Since late December, immigrant rights groups and clergy have organized a series of protests calling for Montrevil’s release.