By Gessika Thomas
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti began a donor conference on Wednesday to raise some of the estimated $2 billion needed for reconstruction in its southern peninsula after an earthquake that killed thousands of people.
The 7.2 magnitude quake that struck near the city of Les Cayes in August, leveling buildings and destroying roads near the area of Les Cayes, in a devastating blow for a country still reeling from the murder of President Jovenel Moise.
“Haitians are tired of missed opportunities. Today we have an opportunity to show that we have learned from our mistakes,” United Nations Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed said at the opening of the conference.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry asked multilateral groups and foreign representatives, many of whom will participate virtually, to help pay for the rebuilding of schools, hospitals and roads that were damaged by the quake.
“In recent years Haiti has not only been affected by natural disasters, socio-political crises but also the impacts of the pandemic,” he said. “The country will need $2 billion for the recovery of the South over a period of 4 years.”
The United Nations said on its website that Haiti is seeking to obtain $1.6 billion of the $2 billion needed, adding that the quake disrupted the lives of some 800,000 people and crippled services to a large part of rural Haiti.
The country continues to struggle with gang violence that has fueled a spike in kidnappings and left many areas of the country out of the control of state authorities.
(Reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince, writing by Brian Ellsworth, editing by Alexander Smith)