Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Haiti quake remembered two years on

A woman who lost both her arms following the 2010 Haiti earthquake arrives for a memorial service on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince (AP)

Haitians have marked the second anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake with church services across the deeply religious country on a national holiday of remembrance.

The government said the disaster killed 316,000 people and displaced 1.5 million.

More than 500,000 Haitians are still in temporary settlement camps.

"We need to keep telling future generations about this so that we can help the country build better," said Eddy Jean-Baptiste, 46, wearing a dark grey suit and carrying a Bible on his way to a church in the mountains that surround Port-au-Prince.

From makeshift churches to a United Nations supply base, the day carried a mood that mixed remembrance with hope for a fresh beginning.

The country of 10 million people is struggling with a reconstruction effort that has been thwarted by a messy election, political paralysis and absence of aid co-ordination.

For its part, officials in President Michel Martelly's government emphasised the need for education by inaugurating a new university in the north and announcing plans to rebuild a college specialising in science.

"It's a day when we remember and then we make the decision to move on, which is very, very Haitian," prime minster Gary Conille said. "We bury the dead and go back to work immediately."

Churchgoers in Port-au-Prince donned dark suits and white dresses and, with Bibles in hand, walked to religious services throughout the capital of three million.

In the hillside city of Petionville, the congregation filled up a church and spilled onto the street as they sang hymns that asked God for security and courage.