President Jovenel Moise led a ceremony in Port-au-Prince on Friday to mark the eighth anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, sidelining alleged remarks made by President Donald Trump that reportedly described the Caribbean country as a “shithole”.
“January 12 is a sad day in our history. It is a day we will never forget, a day that we should not forget. The love that we have for those close to us, our family, our friends who passed away on this date. On January 12, 2010 (they) are alive with us,” he said.
On January 12, 2010 some 220,000 people were killed on the island by the 7.0-magnitude quake. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake.
Haiti still remains the poorest country in the Americas. According to reports, 45,000 Haitians still live in tents and make-shift shelters with little or no access to clean water and sanitation.
With the country still dependent on foreign aid, Moise vowed to use such funds to help the country develop.
“To (our) partners in the international community, I want to take advantage of this day to tell you all that under my leadership the country wants to take its destiny in its own hands, as I said in parliament,” he added.
The eighth anniversary of the quake took place after reported remarks from President Donald Trump referring to Haiti and other nations as “shithole countries” during a briefing on draft immigration legislation.
In 2015, there were 676,000 Haitian immigrants in the United States, up from 587,000 in 2010, accounting for less than 2 percent of the U.S. foreign-born population, according to the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute.
Special status given to about 59,000 Haitian immigrants, protecting them from deportation following the 2010 earthquake, will end next year following a Trump administration ruling last month.
GAN with REUTERS