In makeshift churches and at mass grave sites, Haitians congregated Thursday to mark the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake that ravaged the country, killing roughly 300,000 people and leaving more than 1.5 million homeless.
The 7.0-magnitude quake hit on Jan. 12, 2010, and, while lasting only 10 to 20 seconds, toppled buildings and homes, flattened the presidential palace and left Port-au-Prince's Cathedral of Our Lady gutted.
In Thursday's ceremonial events, former U.S. President Bill Clinton accompanied Haitian President Michel Martelly, and the United Nation's special envoy to Haiti, Michaelle Jean, to lay wreaths at a mass burial ground on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.
Martelly, considered a political novice until he took office last May, vowed to redouble the reconstruction efforts in order for Haitians to begin piecing their lives back together, but the effort has been thwarted by a messy election, political paralysis and the absence of a coordination in aid relief, the Telegraph reported.
This year is a year when we will really start rebuilding physically, but also rebuilding the hope and the future of the Haitian people, Martelly said. Still, jobs remain scarce, the vast majority of Haitians barely scrape by -- most live on $2 a day or less - and the squalid camps leave women and children vulnerable to sexual attacks and other violence, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Canada backed the new efforts Martelly announced to relocate some 20,000 people from tent encampments blocks from the presidential palace; Canada said it was contributing $20 million to the relocation effort.
Yet the billions of dollars in promised aid has still to reach many of the intended benefactors. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on international donors to continue their support of Haiti.
The challenge for Haiti is to build on this momentum and turn the aid-underpinned rebound into sustainable growth and more formal sector jobs, said the Inter-American Development Bank, which held a major investor's conference two months ago.