Indians in Haiti seek monetary help to rebuild lives

A small community of Indians based in quake-ravaged Haiti have appealed to the government back home to provide them financial assistance to rebuild their lives.

These people not only lost their homes and cars in the devastating January 12 earthquake of magnitude 7.0, but also the money they had in the banks, which too collapsed in the tremor, the worst to hit the tiny Caribbean nation that claimed an estimated two lakh lives.

They had presented Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shashi Tharoor, with a written demand for compensation when he visited Port-au-Prince two weeks after the earthquake.

"They (Indian officials) listened, they promised but nothing has happened," said Eddy Handal, the honorary consul for the Indian government, while also referring to a visit by the officials of the Indian embassy in Cuba.

Tharoor said he was deeply sympathetic about the Indians in Haiti but the purpose of his visit had a broader mandate of expressing solidarity with Haitians, grieving the loss of UN personnel and boosting the morale of Indian peacekeepers engaged in relief work in the aftermath of the quake.

"I had a four-fold mission," he told PTI.

Handal, a Haitian businessman, noted that while Indian government had provided USD five million for relief efforts, it had not extended any monetary help to its own citizens in Port-au-Prince. "Why not also provide for your own people"? he asked.

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