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Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Dec 11, 2013
The huge, deadly earthquake that pulverized Haiti in 2010 also caused destruction or heavy damage to 60 years of public records, the country's director of National Archives said Wednesday.
The nation lacked an inventory, so what exactly was lost is in doubt, but "I can say that there were enormous losses," said Jean-Wilfrid Bertrand at an international gathering of Francophone archives experts being held in Haiti.
An estimated 250,000 people were killed in the January 2010 quake and the rebuilding process has been slow in Haiti, which was already one of the world's poorest countries when disaster struck.
Most of the nation's main public buildings, including the National Archives, were damaged. Several ministries were completely destroyed.
"More than 60 years of archives are badly stored, damaged or lost," Bertrand said. "After the earthquake, the situation got worse."
Materials that are missing include civil registration papers, administrative documents issued by the presidency, government ministries and parliament as well as similar papers registered with Haitian municipalities.
"There is a double danger to the Haitian archives -- there was no systematic storage of archives and the conditions of preservation were catastrophic," said Herve Lemoine, vice-president of the International Association of Francophone Archives, whose experts have provided help to Haiti.
As the fourth anniversary of the disaster approaches, more than 170,000 Haitians are still living in makeshift housing, in very precarious conditions and sometimes facing eviction.
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