Society - Caribbean islands - Haiti - International - Senegal - Disaster - Humanitarian
Haiti-Senegal: Abdoulaye Wade reaches out to Haitians
The government of Senegal has offered land and reparation settlements to Haitian victims who so wish to live in Senegal, following the devastating earthquake that left over 40 thousand people dead, and hundreds of thousands desolate.

"Senegal is ready to offer them [Haitians] parcels of land - even an entire. If it’s just a few individuals, then we will likely offer them housing or small pieces of land. If they come en masse we are ready to give them a region," Mr. Mamadou Bemba Ndiaye, Spokesperson to Senegal president, Abdoulaye Wade, was quoted as saying.

President Wade is offering voluntary repatriation to any Haitian that wants to return to Africa. According to the government spokesperson, a fertile portion of land would be given to the Haitians rather than parched desert lands, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The gesture by the Senegalese president stems from his brotherly perception of the Haitian people. According to the president, Haitians were sons and daughters of Africa since Haiti was founded by slaves, including some thought to be from Senegal.

Senegal is regarded by experts as one of Africa’s model democracies; with an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule. The country, despite widespread poverty and unemployment, is one of West Africa’s more stable economies.

Slaves, ivory and gold were exported from the coast during the 17th and 18th centuries. Senegal’s economy is now based mainly on agriculture.

The country’s extension of support to the people of Haiti including the offering of fertile land has been viewed by many Africans as heroic and awe-inspiring.

Experts say sloppy construction contributed to the level of destruction in Haiti following Tuesday’s earthquake.

According to London-based architect John McAslan, who has been working on a project linked to the Clinton Global Initiative in Haiti, most buildings are made of masonry - bricks or construction blocks - which tend to perform badly in an earthquake.

Head of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, a US-based non-profit group that has been working in Haiti since 2006, also confirmed that there are significant problems with the quality of building materials used.

A UN official has said aid workers are dealing with a disaster "like no other" in UN memory because the country had been "decapitated". Speaking in Port-au-Prince, UN chief, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon described the situation in Haiti as one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades.


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