- Panafrica - Senegal
"No invitation to relocate Haitians in Senegal" - says Haiti Minister
The government of Senegal has not extended any formal invitation to relocate Haitians - who have been devastated and mostly rendered homeless in the aftermath of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit the impoverished Caribbean nation early January, a top-ranking Haiti Government official said Tuesday.
Special correspondent in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
"We haven’t received any letter or formal invitation from the Government of Senegal informing us that they want to relocate Haitians in their country," Marie Laurence Jocelyn-Lassegue, Haiti Minister of Culture and Communication told me.
Ms Jocelyn Lassegue, explained that the first time the Haitian government heard of the good gesture intended to relocate its people to Senegal was not from the government but from ordinary Senegalese in that country.
"We were very happy about that and wanted to send a delegation to Dakar but up to this present time there has been no official invitation from them," she lamented.
Marie Laurence-Lassegue further explained that since they heard that the government of Senegal was going to relocate Haitians and would send a delegation to Haiti sometime in February – that never came – many Haitians have been inquiring about relocating to the West African state.
"A lot of people have asked me about this and that they will like to go and work there. We are very happy about this solidarity from Senegal and Africa as a whole and we will like to have something... an invitation from Senegal – may be through their ambassador in Washington, DC as it is closer," she proposed.
There has been a massive global pouring of assistance to Haiti since the January 12 earthquake that killed between 200,000 and 300,000 people in the capital, Port–au-Prince.
Aid workers from around the world descended here to help an already flagged poorest country in the Caribbean and the northern hemisphere, to cope with the destruction and also start the process of reconstruction.
Among donor countries, Canada pledged five hundred million dollars over the next five years and France four hundred million dollars in the next two years.
France also wrote off several millions of dollars in debt owed to them by Haiti but many here said they expect more from their former colonial boss – France.
Many Haitians believe the French are responsible for their economically degenerated situation and poverty as Haiti was forced to pay about twenty billion dollars worth of gold in 1804 for their civil liberty – after years of forced slavery and about a decade of war.
They finished that payment in 1947. But in 2003, the Haitian government asked the French to pay them back. That request was shunned by France.
In the aftermath of the earthquake, the government encouraged people to evacuate the city for safety reasons and about 400,000 people were reported to have emigrated to other parts of Haiti.
Some of these people went to Cap-Haitien, the second capital city of Haiti – whose residents are now complaining that the government has almost forgotten about them as they are given only a trickle of the aid coming into Haiti whilst the bulk is been concentrated in Port-au-Prince. An assertion Communications Minister vehemently denied.
"The other towns have more needs than Cap-Haitien", she remarked.
Photo: MINUSTAH / SOPHIA PARIS