Two Years After Quake, Haiti Remains in Distress (Ingrid Arnesen, Wall Street Journal)
Big donors like the U.S. have begun to lose patience. “It is not realistic to expect the international community to continue to direct foreign assistance money indefinitely towards this country as it has for so many years,” said U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten, adding “folks here have to learn how to stand on their own two feet.” Some private charities find Haitian red tape and corruption also hobbles the recovery effort from the Jan. 12, 2010, quake, which killed an estimated 200,000. Germany’s Red Cross, for instance, spent months last year waiting for medical supplies to be cleared by Haiti’s customs service—which wanted to charge a 70% tax on it.
U.S. peace talks with Taliban to resume (Karen Deyoung, Washington Post)
The Obama administration will re-start peace talks with the Taliban as soon as Afghan President Hamid Karzai formally blesses the negotiations, according to senior administration officials who indicated the process could be under way within weeks. A tentative U.S.-Taliban deal, including the transfer of five Afghan detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to Qatar and an insurgent renunciation of international terrorism, collapsed in December when Karzai refused to go along with it.
Egyptian parties vow to protect freedoms in Constitution (Tamim Elyan and Edmund Blair, Reuters)
Egyptian political parties and religious figures agreed Wednesday to protect civic freedoms in a new constitution. The principles were approved at a meeting sponsored by al-Azhar, Egypt’s prestigious seat of Sunni Muslim learning and attended by senior Coptic Christian clerics, Islamic scholars, Islamists, liberals and youth activists. The document committed to stick to the army timeline for a presidential vote in June.
India marks one year polio-free milestone (Nita Bhalla, Reuters)
India is about to hit a milestone in its battle to eradicate the polio virus with no new cases reported in the past year, the country’s health minister said on Thursday, a dramatic drop from being the country worst affected by the crippling disease. The last case was detected on Jan. 13 in a two-year-old girl in the country’s east. A full year without any new cases means India will no longer be classed as “polio-endemic” by the World Health Organization, leaving only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nigeria.