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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Haiti PM to donors: please honor aid pledges
by Staff Writers
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) July 04, 2014


Japan PM to honour quake dead on New Zealand trip
Wellington (AFP) July 04, 2014 - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will honour the 28 citizens from his country who died in the devastating 2011 Christchurch earthquake during a visit to New Zealand next week, officials said Friday.

Abe will make a brief visit to New Zealand on Monday as part of a swing through the Pacific that also includes a stop in Australia, and reportedly Papua New Guinea.

Japan is New Zealand's fourth largest trading partner and Prime Minister John Key said Abe would hold discussions with business leaders in Auckland before heading to Christchurch.

"Prime Minister Abe has been spearheading a revival of Japan's economy and diplomacy," Key said.

"His visit is an opportunity to mark New Zealand's long-standing links with Japan through government, business and personal ties."

From there, Abe will head to the South Island city of Christchurch, large swathes of which were flattened in a February 2011 quake that claimed 185 lives.

Among the dead were 28 Japanese students who were in an English-language school located in the CTV building, which collapsed then burst into flames after the 6.3-magnitude tremor, killing 115 people.

A memorial has been erected on the site of the six-storey 1980s-era office block, which a subsequent investigation found was so badly designed it should never have received a building permit.

Japan sent search and rescue teams to comb through the rubble after the disaster and has been involved in the city's rebirth through the so-called "cardboard cathedral, designed by award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

The structure, which is a temporary replacement for the 1881 Anglican cathedral destroyed in the quake, is an A-frame building constructed with weather-proofed cardboard tubes.

Only half of the nine billion dollars in international aid promised to Haiti after a devastating earthquake in 2010 has been delivered, the prime minister told AFP.

So far, 48 percent of that amount has been handed over, mainly in emergency and humanitarian aid, while the country faces colossal rebuilding needs after the 7.0-magnitude quake, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, in power since 2012, said Thursday in an exclusive interview.

He called on the members of the international community to "continue to honor their commitments."

The quake killed between 200,000 and 250,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million from their homes in one of the world's poorest countries.

But Lamothe said some countries had in fact financed reconstruction projects to resurrect entire neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince that were flattened by the quake.

After the quake, "40 percent of the population of the capital, or 1.5 million people, lived in tents. Today there are only 125,000 people remaining in these camps," he said.

By 2015, Haiti will build 10,000 subsidized housing units with the help of international donors.

With its own "meager resources", he said, Haiti has already constructed 3,000 homes and rebuilt another 4,000.

Lamothe also said long-delayed legislative elections, which he announced earlier this month, will go ahead. The voting has been delayed for three years as the country struggled to get back on its feet after the earthquake.

The long wait has triggered a political crisis marked by anti-government streets rallies.

"Haiti today is enjoying a certain degree of stability which it did not have before," Lamothe said. "We must preserve it." The voting is scheduled for October 26.

The opposition wants a new election commission less biased toward President Michel Martelly than what it says the current one is.

More than 114 parties are registered. But major ones are threatening a boycott unless the election commission is reformed.

"We are going to continue to talk with all the sectors concerned. But holding elections on the scheduled date is essential and non-negotiable for the stability of the country," said Lamothe, seen as an heir to Martelly, whose term ends in 2016.

But Lamothe would not talk about the future, saying he preferred to concentrate on the day-to-day running of the country.

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