As international aid agencies struggle to distribute life-saving supplies amid the chaos in Haiti, a week after the devastating earthquake officials now estimate 200,000 people have been killed in the disaster.
Crumbled infrastructure, blocked roads and increasing lawlessness have prevented food, water and medical aid from reaching thousands upon thousands of people. An estimated 1.5 million are homeless and some 70,000 bodies have been recovered and placed in mass graves.
The deaths of 12 Canadians in the country have so far been confirmed and 699 remain unaccounted for.
The UN World Food Program is desperate for more government donations to provide the 100 million prepared meals it needs to distribute over the next month. Doctors treating the seriously injured are still working without basic supplies, including surgical instruments, anesthesia gear, alcohol, sutures and saws.
Many desperate survivors are looting to obtain basic items, including toothpaste, which people are reportedly smearing under their noses to mask the pervasive odour of decomposing bodies.
“Although the concern over an increase in civilian violence is shared by several countries involved, it will be resolved by our capacity to deliver aid and our capacity to stabilize Haiti,” Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said.
The European Union has pledged more than half a billion dollars in aid and the United States is providing $100 million.
On Tuesday the federal government announced Canada’s contribution to the relief effort would rise to $135 million.
But that may not be enough to rebuild the devastated nation. The president of the neighbourhing Dominican Republic believes it will cost more than $10 billion to rebuild.
Canada is hosting a meeting in Montreal next week in an effort to set out the framework of a long-term redevelopment plan for Haiti. Representatives from 16 countries are expected to be there.
More than 200 Canadian soldiers are on the ground in Haiti with another 1,000 on the way. The troops will be responsible for providing security and protecting the humanitarian corridor, to ensure life-saving items make it to those in need.
Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) is being deployed in the hard-hit town of Jacmel, on Haiti’s southern coast. The medical contingent is working on the ground and the engineering contingent is on its way with a water purification system.
With files from the Canadian Press