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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Haiti Falls from the Headlines, But Situation Remains Dire Print
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 16:53
Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, writes in the Huffington Post that although the plight of Haitians has faded from the media limelight, the situation is no less dire. Messinger writes:
According to the latest UN figures, 1.3 million Haitians have been left homeless by the quake. Some of these Haitians are no longer sleeping in abandoned cars but in flimsy structures fashioned from plastic sheeting and salvaged wood--a minuscule improvement, to say the least. Over 218,000 survivors are living in makeshift camps in Port-au-Prince at immediate grave risk of flooding and landslides.

In the minds of too many of the privileged and the powerful, post-earthquake Haitian society has become little more than a faded photograph. Survivors' shelter and medical needs are no longer in focus or in vogue and too many relief efforts are being shortchanged. Virtually nothing is being done by either the Haitian government or international actors for those who will be flooded out of their squatter camps. Large-scale food aid--often distributed inequitably--has nearly run dry.
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U.S. Legislation to Cancel Haiti’s Debt, Boost Garment Sector Print
Thursday, 29 April 2010 16:24
President Obama signed into law legislation crafted by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) that should provide further debt cancellation for Haiti. The law “directs the Secretary of the Treasury to instruct the U.S. Executive Directors at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)” to
1. cancel immediately and completely all debt owed by Haiti to these institutions;
2. suspend Haiti’s debt service payments to the institutions until the debt is canceled completely; and
3. provide additional assistance to Haiti in the form of grants so that Haiti does not accumulate additional debt.
...and also push for “the cancellation of all remaining bilateral, multilateral, and private creditor debt owed by Haiti” and to secure grants, instead of loans, from multilateral lenders for Haiti through January 2015.

The bill should expedite debt cancellation by – among others - the IMF, which has yet to cancel Haiti’s debt, despite various statements by IMF Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, regarding a “Marshall Plan for Haiti.”
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Scrutiny of Red Cross Effort Grows Print
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 15:28
Frances Robles reports on the American Red Cross in Haiti for the Miami Herald, noting the aid organization is coming under increasing pressure to explain how they are spending the $400 million in donations for Haiti. Robles writes:
But after consuming $106 million in the first 60 days, the Red Cross in the past month has tapped just $5 million more and has come under fire for what critics call anemic spending.

Other aid groups, members of Congress, bloggers and even a former board member are among the growing chorus asking what the Red Cross is doing with such a massive amount of money raised in such a short time.
The American Red Cross plans on spending about half of their donations this year, and the rest over a 3-5 year period, reports Robles. The former board member, Victoria Cummock, had some particularly harsh words for the organization, saying, "That's not disaster relief, that's long-term recovery, and that's not the Red Cross' mission and not the donor intent either."

Robles reports that Cummock, after asking about the Red Cross' relief efforts in Haiti, gave $25,000 to Project Medishare and UNICEF instead.

The three-month report released by the American Red Cross earlier this month raises more questions. According to their own numbers, the Red Cross network had built just 200 latrines in the previous month. Since along with shelter, sanitation provision is a top priority, this seems like a low number. USAID in their most recent update notes that out of a total of 15,300 latrines, just 8,727 have been built. Previous plans had been to build 11,000 by April 15.
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Does Camp Corail Demonstrate How Haiti Relief Can Be Done Right? Print
Monday, 26 April 2010 12:34
Jonathan M. Katz reports for the Associated Press on the glaring gap in services between two camps; Camp Corail and Camp Obama. Camp Corail is the recently opened camp which is housing those that have been relocated, primarily from the Petionville camp. Katz explains:
The organized relocation camp at Corail-Cesselesse has thousands of spacious, hurricane-resistant tents on groomed, graded mountain soil. The settlement three miles (four kilometers) down the road — named after the U.S. president in hopes of getting attention from foreigners — has leaky plastic tarps and wooden sticks pitched on a muddy slope.

Corail has a stocked U.N. World Food Program warehouse for its 3,000-and-counting residents; the more than 8,500 at Camp Obama are desperate for food and water. Corail's entrance is guarded by U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian police. Camp Obama's residents put up a Haitian flag to mark their empty security tent.
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Moratorium on Forced Evictions Print
Friday, 23 April 2010 14:55
On April 17 International Action Ties, via the Haiti Response Coalition, called for an immediate suspension of forced evictions. The group called on authorities to respect the human rights of displaced peoples, efforts would include a moratorium on evictions, an independent monitoring agency and collaboration with community groups. The group notes that the United Nations' Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement have not been followed. The press release begins:
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CBS Evening News: Relief Efforts "Certainly Not Good Enough" Print
Thursday, 22 April 2010 09:06
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric continues their Haiti coverage by looking at conditions in the IDP camps. Couric speaks with Dr. Louis Ivers of Partners in Health, who argues that sanitation, shelter, and security are all inadequate. When Katie Couric asks Dr. Ivers what the problem is, Ivers responds:
"Somebody's not doing their job right. Because, if this is as good as we can do, it's certainly not good enough."
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Forced Eviction, Lack of Coordination Mar Relocation Efforts Print
Tuesday, 20 April 2010 15:21
The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports on relocation efforts ahead of the rainy season. CSM notes that many displaced people have been forced out of their camps, with bulldozers destroying their tents. The article also points to a lack of coordination in the relocation efforts, generally slowing progress and resulting in people having to move multiple times. CSM writes:
For some, the place is called Mais 54 Caradeux. For others, Toto Camp, and yet others still, Toussaint Louverture camp, in honor of the leader of the revolution that led to Haiti’s independence.

Regardless, the future of the 1,507 registered families living on this dusty, rolling terrain is uncertain.

About two weeks ago, government bulldozers showed up after dark and, without warning, began to level the haphazard maze of bed sheets and sticks. People grabbed what they could before their homes toppled.
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Los Angeles Times: Rainy season threatens earthquake-battered Haiti Print
Tuesday, 20 April 2010 11:24

The Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday about the upcoming rainy season and efforts made in preparation by both aid agencies and the government. While rains have already begun, they are set to increase in both intensity and frequency over the coming months. Despite dire warnings and months of preparation Haiti is still not ready for the rains, reports the Times. Thousands of Haitians are in extremely vulnerable areas, however relocation efforts have been delayed and only just recently have gotten under way. In the meantime, the rains continue to make life miserable in the make shift camps that are home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people. The Los Angeles Times writes:

The rainy season is bearing down, and Haiti is not ready.

Three months after the earthquake killed more than 200,000 people, more than 2.1 million Haitians are still living in tents and under tarps, many on dangerous hillsides and tidal flats.

Ernst Y'Voyelle, 38, studies those clouds warily from his hut clinging to the edge of a ravine in a hillside tent camp where as many as 50,000 people live.

"There's going to be a lot of people buried here," he said.
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TransAfrica Forum Report on Forced Evictions, Neglect in Camps Print
Friday, 16 April 2010 09:21
TransAfrica Forum published a report today from their partners in the Haiti Response Coalition documenting forced evictions and neglect in IDP camps over the last week. The first situation occured at an encampment in Caradeux Delmas 75, Port-au-Prince, which consists of four conjoined camps; Camp Benediction, CCTT, Camp Canaan and Refugee Camp. The Coalition reports:
The Refugee Camp community members reports that they did not receive warning before the large Conseil Nationale Equipements (CNE) bulldozers and graters came to their community with Haitian National Police escorts late on Sunday evening 04APR10, shorts after 7:00pm. With consistency, numerous individuals reported that the uniformed officers first threatened the families with violence if they did not leave their homes immediately. The assesment team was informed that anyone who argued was then forced out with violence. The use of batons were reported, and firearms were discharged into the air.
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Deputy UN Secretary General: "Situation Remains Dire" Print
Thursday, 15 April 2010 16:57
Deputy UN Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro, speaking to reports at the UN upon returning from a visit to Haiti said that, "Though commendable progress has been made there since Jan. 12, when the earthquake struck, the situation remains dire," reports Xinhua.

Over three months after the earthquake and with the rainy season already beginning, there is still much to be done. On April 13 Red Cross Federation spokesman Alex Wynter said that the number in need of shelter was raised from 1.3 million to 1.5 million. This means there are still some 300,000 people without shelter. Further, as OCHA noted in their most recent update only about a quarter of households have received any rope or other materials to secure their shelters, which "remains a vital gap in the response" as many thousands of shelters will need to be strengthened for the rains. The rains are often too strong for the tarps, as has been documented by video, and as reported by the International Federation of the Red Cross earlier in the week.
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