January 12, 2022, marked 12 years since a devastating earthquake of magnitude 7.0 struck Haiti and wreaked havoc on the capital Port-au-Prince. On January 12, 2010, at around 4:50 pm local time, a powerful earthquake shook the capital for more than half a minute, turning it into ruins and claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. The earthquake caused massive economic and human losses. It destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and other public and private buildings, and damaged countless roads and bridges.
According to official data, 1.5 million people lost all of their possessions and more than 300,000 people died. Additionally, 350,000 people suffered injuries, several thousands became disabled, and more than half a million people became permanently homeless. The Latin American and the Caribbean region’s poorest country is still recovering from the disastrous earthquake, which is considered the deadliest earthquake in its history and one of the worst catastrophes of the past decade. Twelve years later, 60% of the collapsed buildings have not been erected.
In 2016, January 12 was declared as a day of commemoration and reflection in the memory of the victims. During this day, the Haitian flag is flown at half mast across the country as a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of deceased and injured.
This past Wednesday January 12, 12 years after the tragedy, Haitian people and government authorities paid homage to the victims.
Acting President and Prime Minister Ariel Henry laid a wreath at the Saint-Christophe Memorial in Port-au-Prince in the memory of the victims. “Twelve years later, the country still mourns its dead and the wounds remain open. May God continue to watch over Haiti,” said Henry during the brief ceremony, which was also attended by international representatives.
Later, an ecumenical service was organized at the National Palace to pay tribute to the victims, during which Henry emphasized on the need to work hard to change the situation of all citizens. “The State has an obligation to support the Haitian population. To achieve this, we need peace throughout the territory. The government is working to help the country better manage these kinds of disasters. Haiti must change. For this, we must first learn to create stability,” said Henry, referring to the situation of growing gang violence and insecurity in the country.
Victims’ relatives also placed some flowers, candles, cups of coffee, and pieces of bread at the graves of their loved ones in the Port-au-Prince cemetery. They also celebrated a short mass with cemetery employees.