Friday, 15 January 2010

HAITI: Earthquake disrupts key payments lifeline

The earthquake that struck Haiti Tuesday destroyed much of its telecommunications infrastructure. A few Western Union locations in Haiti had sporadic service by Friday, but the vast majority of them were inoperable.

By Allison Linn
Senior writer
updated 2:13 p.m. ET Jan. 15, 2010

The earthquake in Haiti has disrupted a key economic lifeline for many in this impoverished nation: Money sent from family members working elsewhere in the world back to their native country.

Such remittances, as they are called, totaled around $1.2 billion in 2009, according to estimates from the World Bank, and have equaled about 20 percent of the country’s GDP in recent years.

“In a sense it helps people keep their heads above the water,” said Robert Maguire, a Haiti specialist at Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C.

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