The sums may be small but the gestures are big: African nations, among them some of the world’s poorest, have promised Haiti cash, aid and even land as it struggles to cope after the Jan. 12 quake.
Although the total amounts will be a fraction of the 575 million dollars the United Nations has asked for from international donors, African nations have been keen to make at least symbolic gestures of solidarity.
From small sums of 50,000 dollars to South Africa sending off contingents of searchers, doctors and tonnes of food and medical aid, the predominantly West African donor counties have jumped to help Haitians, themselves descended from African slaves.
Senegal’s President Adboulaye Wade (pictured) has offered parcels of land or even an entire region to Haitians wanting to “repatriate” to Africa, as well as promising one million dollars in cash to the UN relief effort.
"Africa should offer Haitians the chance to return home. It is their right. There is nothing to haggle about," Wade said on his website five days after the devastating quake.
Ivory Coast, whose President Laurent Gbagbo has said he is “profoundly touched”, has promised a million dollars.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has earmarked 2.5 million dollars, and the smaller Chad (500,000 dollars) and Rwanda (50,000 dollars) have stepped in to offer their solidarity with the suffering of Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
In tiny Benin, from where many of the slaves transported to Haiti originated, a telethon has been organised to raise funds.
As for English-speaking Africa, South Africa, where former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide now lives, sent rescue and medical teams, while Uganda has promised 100,000 dollars.
Nigeria has given the UN fund a cheque for 1.5 million dollars, while Liberia and Sierra Leone, both countries rebuilding after bloody civil wars, have promised 50,000 and 100,000 dollars respectively.
Date created : 2010-01-27