Haiti: one year on

January 13, 2011
Paul Anticoni visiting a mobile health clinic in Port-au-Prince

Paul Anticoni visiting a mobile health clinic in Port-au-Prince

World Jewish Relief chief executive Paul Anticoni has spent five days visiting the charity's projects in Haiti, which he described as "on its knees".

With partner organisation Merlin, WJR runs nine mobile health clinics funded by the £500,000-plus donated by British Jews to the charity's emergency appeal following last year's earthquake.

They operate in the capital Port-au-Prince and the south-western town of Petit-Goâve, which was at the epicentre of the earthquake, which killed 230,000 and left a million homeless.

"We spent some of the appeal money doing crisis response but the bulk has been spent on the health clinics which are longer term projects," Mr Anticoni said. "We expect to be here until the end of 2011 and maybe longer. But the funding won't last forever and the ministry of health here needs to take responsibility too.

"The clinics provide an absolutely basic service, but the community has never had this service. The clinics give access to healthcare to 80,000 people."

Visiting the projects had affected him deeply. "The country is still absolutely on its knees," he reported. "As we're driving around, you'd think the quake only happened yesterday. There's rubble everywhere, streets are full of rubbish. Everywhere you see shelters constructed on rubbish tips or in collapsed buildings. You can see how high the risk of disease is. It will take decades to get back on its feet."

Haitians had suffered more than an earthquake. "It's had a hurricane and cholera and an absolute political fiasco.

"The country needs leadership but there is none. But the people have
a will to survive - they know they have to rebuild. You can see places where small markets have been set up at
a very local level. But there's been no rebuilding of major infrastructure."

Visitors were "confronted with the enormity of the challenge. But I can also see how British Jewry made a very generous, noticeable contribution."

Last updated: 12:33pm, January 13 2011