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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Experts: Conditions in Haiti deteriorating eight months after quake

Experts discussed the deteroating situation in Haiti. Rachel Krausman | Hatchet photographer

This report was written by Hatchet reporter Buster Brown

Eight months after a catastrophic earthquake shook the country, Haiti’s condition has gotten worse, a panel of experts concluded during a discussion in the Elliott School of International Affairs Wednesday night.

Award-winning poet Kwame Dawes and journalists William Wheeler, Lisa Armstrong and Stephanie Hanes discussed issues that have plagued the area since last February’s 7.0 magnitude quake. The event was co-sponsored by the School of Media and Public Affairs and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

“We’ve been visiting some of the same people since I was last there in February and a lot of them are still in the same condition, if not worse,” Dawes said. “At least before they were getting food.”

In the weeks following the earthquake, the American media focused attention on the small Caribbean island. After a few months, however, the panelists said that Haiti has moved out of the media spotlight.

“When there’s a crisis like Haiti, the pattern has been to have it in the media 24/7,” Dawes said. “And then what happens is, it dies away.”

Though the U.S. government donated more than $400 million in aid in the aftermath of the quake, Armstrong said that aid from other countries has decreased. Armstrong said that less humanitarian efforts has meant an increase in problems like prostitution and HIV infections.

“I met a 14 year old and an 18 year old girl who were working as prostitutes, because they had lost both of their parents [in the earthquake],” Armstrong said. “Once the organizations that were delivering food stopped delivering it, these girls had no other way to support themselves.”

The country’s recovery would likely not have been possible without foreign aid, which Dawes says makes Haitians re-think their sovereignty.

“When I talk to the Haitians and I ask the question, ‘what does it mean to you to be a society so dependent on aid?’ they say, ‘The first thing we worry about is that it might end,’” Dawes said.

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