PORT-AU-PRINCE – President Jovenel Moise and high-level government officials participated on Sunday in ceremonies to remember the victims of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that devastated Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people.
Ceremonies were held in the community of Saint-Christophe and in the gardens of the Museum of the Haitian National Pantheon.
In Saint-Christophe, where numerous victims are buried in a mass grave, the head of state placed a wreath to honor those who lost their lives as dozens of reporters looked on.
The magnitude-7.0 earthquake, which also injured more than 350,000 people in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, shattered Port-au-Prince and several other cities.
The powerful temblor killed 316,000 people and displaced more than 1.5 million others, whose houses and dwellings collapsed in the quake.
“January 12, 2010; we remember this painful moment that took relatives, friends and neighbors in 35 seconds. Many are still in mourning over the premature departure of their loved ones. This morning, 10 years later, it is time to reflect. A time for meditation in Saint-Christophe,” the Communications Ministry said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
Haiti has declared Jan. 12 a national day of remembrance and reflection dedicated to the victims of the national disaster that struck the Caribbean nation 10 years ago today, the Presidential Secretariat said.
On this national day of remembrance and reflection, the flag is being flown at half-staff and discos, clubs and other entertainment establishments are closed.
Haiti’s radio and television stations aired special programming and played religious music.
On Saturday, Moise said he received the sealed winning bid for the reconstruction of the National Palace following the call for bids made by the Working and Reflection Group for the Reconstruction of the National Palace and the Housing and Public Buildings Construction Unit.
The winner is expected to be announced on Sunday.
The Collectif Defenseurs Plus human rights group, meanwhile, called on residents to participate in a march on Sunday in Port-au-Prince to mark the 10th anniversary of the killer earthquake.
“The goal of this march is to make citizens aware of the threats to the population due to the poor condition of dwellings and urge state authorities to take the necessary measures to reduce the danger and damage that this kind of situation can cause,” Collectif Defenseurs Plus co-director Antonal Mortime said.
Organizers also plan to create an artistic representation of the physical impact of the tragedy on victims and have invited the public to participate in the march and share their memories.
Collectif Defenseurs Plus said it was important to once again organize these kinds of commemorations as a symbol of solidarity with those who survived the 2010 temblor but are still suffering from the physical and psychological effects of the catastrophe.
The earthquake left deep scars in Haitian society and people are still struggling to cope with the trauma they suffered.
Between 4,000 and 7,000 people underwent amputations following the earthquake and the majority of amputees have had to deal with discrimination, as well as problems in obtaining basic services and jobs.
Doctors Without Borders said Friday that in the first weeks after the earthquake, at least 40,000 people received psychological or psychiatric care from its specialists.
Survivors can suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in the medium or long term following tragic events in their lives, and earthquake survivors experienced other problems, such as reliving the disaster.
The problems are made worse by the general lack of resources in Haiti’s public health system, which receives just 1 percent of the national budget, and the limited number of facilities for providing mental health services to children and teenagers.