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Latest update : 2010-01-20

Number of orphans in Haiti may have doubled since earthquake

The Independent leads with a photo of just “one in a million” of Haiti’s orphans. Here is the international press review of the day.

 

Wideline Fils Amie is a 9-year-old Haitian girl who appears on the front page of this morning’s The Independent. She is just one of countless orphans in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated the country on the 12th January.
 
She’s been living for the past week in the filthy backyard of an orphanage where food reserves are critically low. She told the Independent’s Guy Adams that she’s “hungry” and “scared”.
 
Adams says the scale of the bereavement is so massive that your sympathies become numb.
 
“I barely flinched when Ms. Mardy (the head of the orphanage) told me she was mourning both her sisters and her mother-in-law and is sleeping with the children in the yard of her orphanage.”
 
Even before the earthquake, Haiti had an astonishing 380,000 orphans from a population of 9 million. Now the figure could be twice that or higher.
 
Ms. Mardy says they are tramuatised: “They won’t go into the house. They won’t go upstairs. They have to have someone lying next to them to be able to sleep and they follow me around and want to hold my hand all the time.”
 
The paper also looks at the ethics of  shipping children overseas for adoption in times of disaster. The NGO, SOS Children’s Villages, has issued a warning saying that uprooting children in such situations can be stressful and unsettling and lead to long-term psychological problems for infants who are expected to grow up in an alien culture.
 
The New York Times examines the attitude of Haitians to the presence of US troops in their country.
 
“Haiti’s long history of foreign intervention, including an American occupation, normally makes the influx of foreigners a delicate issue,” the paper notes.
 
“President Woodrow Wilson sent American Marines to Haiti in 1915 to restore public order after six different leaders ruled the country in quick succession. Opposition was intense, but it would be nearly two decades before the Marines would leave, in 1934.”
 
“Bill Clinton ordered troops into the country in 1994 to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide… A decade later, Mr. Aristide was forced out of office, and he accused the United States of orchestrating his ouster.”
 
On Tuesday, however, US troops were welcomed.
 
“It is not ideal to have a foreign army here, but look at the situation,” said Énide Edoword, a waitress, “We are living amid filth and hunger and thirst after a catastrophe.”
 
When Mr. Préval asked religious and business leaders at a meeting on Saturday whether they supported the intervention of the United States, the answer was a cautious “yes”.
 
“As long as it’s temporary,” said Bishop Jean-Zache Duracin.
 
Elisabeth Delatour Préval, Haiti’s first lady, insisted that the country’s sovereignty remained intact, although she acknowledged that there was widespread concern among the population about whether the government was functioning.
 
 “Visually, people can’t see what they used to recognize as the symbols of the state – like the collapsed presidential palace,” she said in an interview. “That has generated some kind of panic. ‘Are they there or aren’t they there?’.
 
The American military, which began patrolling in Humvees up and down Boulevard Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the capital’s main commercial strip, took pains to reassure Haitians that the United States was in the country in a support role.
 
The Times concludes that most Haitians seem to see it that way, despite deep historic concerns about American troops in particular.
 
 
Other stories in today’s international papers:
 
Politico and the Huffington Post look at the victory of the Republicans in the Senatorial election in Massachusetts. Healthcare reform is now in question because Democrats no longer have the necessary majority to block a filibuster (technique used to stall reforms in Congress).
 
Politico : “The fallout: Democrats rethinking healthcare bill”
 
Huffington Post : “Coakley pollster defends campaign against White House”
 
And finally a Lucian Freud self-portrait with a strange story behind it is valued at £4m.
 
The Guardian : “Cabbie inspires £4m painting – but tip is unlikely” 

 

By James CREEDON

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