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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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OAS to Send Election Mission to Haiti - But Will They Meet With Fanmi Lavalas and Other Sidelined Parties? Print
Thursday, 08 April 2010 12:43
The Organization of American States (OAS) announced that they will be sending election observers to prepare and monitor elections in Haiti. Legislative elections had been planned for February, however have been postponed due to the earthquake. Presidential elections are set to take place in the fall as Preval's term ends in February 2011.
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Congressional Trip to Haiti: "We Didn't See the Red Cross Anywhere" Print
Thursday, 08 April 2010 11:12
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) told a Florida radio station upon returning from a congressional trip to Haiti that, "we didn't see the Red Cross anywhere, at all," reports Michael O'Brien for Politico's Blog Briefing Room. O'Brien writes:
The Florida congresswoman said that what she saw gave her pause in recommending the Red Cross as a venue for donations. "I wouldn't say that," she said when asked if the Red Cross was the best place for listeners to donate, adding later that she could not "unequivocally" recommend the relief group.

Millions of dollars have flowed into Haiti since a large earthquake devastated its capital, Port au Prince, in late January.
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Using Food Aid to Support, Not Harm, Haitian Agriculture Print
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 14:42
A new issue brief from CEPR (PDF) proposes that international donors seeking to support Haiti’s agricultural sector and provide food to those in need could help Haiti become more self-sufficient by purchasing the entire Haitian rice crop over the next two years. The paper finds that buying up all of Haiti’s rice should be close to the amount of food aid for rice that the international community is likely to provide this year, and would provide a tremendous boost to Haitian farmers, who currently are unable to compete with low-cost rice imports from the U.S.
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NBC Nightly News Report on the American Red Cross in Haiti Print
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 12:31
NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams reported on the American Red Cross in Haiti last week. The American Red Cross has received almost $400 million in donations since the earthquake, but in previous disasters has come under fire for how it allocates its funding. NBC correspondent Robert Bazell points out that a Government Accountability Office report from 2007 found that "the Red Cross lacked adequate plans for providing shelter and temporary housing to victims of catastrophic disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita." Razell also points out that after 9/11, the American Red Cross came under fire from Congress after they diverted donations to their general operating fund.
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Unions Urge Respect for Workers' Rights in Haiti Reconstruction Print
Monday, 05 April 2010 12:55
James Parks posts on the AFL-CIO blog that trade unionists from all over the world are meeting this week in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to discuss rebuilding Haiti. Parks writes "Unions have already made it clear the reconstruction and future development of Haiti must include social protections, creation of decent work and respect for workers’ rights."
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Washington Post: "Rainy Season Could Mean Suffering is in the Forecast" Print
Monday, 05 April 2010 11:55
The Washington Post reported on Sunday on the possible effects of the rainy season on the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons. Relief agencies are in a race against time to dredge canals and build retaining walls to protect those in the camps. Anthony Banbury, who was the second in command for the UN in Haiti, told the Post, "The rainy season is a freight train headed right at us." The Post describes what the rains do to the camps:
In post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, rainstorms -- including several brief ones over the past week -- lift refuse out of piles and spread it across streets and camps. With the ooze -- an awful melange of rotting fruit, chicken bones and human waste -- comes a smell that brings to mind
spoiled milk and gangrenous wounds.
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Mark Schuller: "Promoting Human Rights" Print
Monday, 05 April 2010 11:33
Mark Schuller reports from Haiti on the aid efforts thus far, stressing the need for human rights to be respected. Schuller looks at the shelter situation as well as sanitation and food aid. In all three areas there are significant problems, according to Shuller. The camps are crowded, and the rains are putting strain on the shelter and turning the ground into mud. Food aid done by the large NGOs has bypassed local groups who have more knowledge of specific needs inside the camps. In the Solino camp of 6,000 that Schuller visited, there is not one single latrine. Where there are latrines the lines are long and there are even reports that in some camps they have began to charge a fee to use the bathroom.

There are also reports that at a camp on school grounds residents are feeling as though they are being starved out, being denied there rights to shelter, food and sanitation in an effort to get them to relocate. Schuller writes that the St. Louis de Ganzague school, "is a long-standing institution that educates the children of the so-called "political class."" Samuel Remy, from one of the camp committees, told Schuller:
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UN Changes Plans, Will Only Relocate 9,000 Before Rains Print
Friday, 02 April 2010 08:05
AFP reports today that the UN has abruptly changed plans on the relocation of hundreds of thousands of Haitians before the rainy season. The new plan, based on recent surveys, will relocate just 9,000 who are the most at risk. AFP reports:
Until recently, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had been saying that 218,000 people living in so-called red sites around the capital Port-au-Prince would have to move.
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ABC News: "U.S. Donations Sit Unused" Print
Thursday, 01 April 2010 13:28
Dan Harris reports for ABC News on the amount of donations from Americans that have not yet been spent by aid organizations. Harris writes:
Since January's earthquake, Americans have already given $800.9 million in private donations to help the country rebuild. The money has gone to 23 charities that ABC News has been tracking. Only about 37 percent of the money has been spent. Nearly $588 million in donations is still sitting on the sidelines, as millions of Haitians continue to suffer.

Charities say that spending too quickly would risk creating waste and robbing money from the long-term work that must be done. But while they plan for the long-term, there is an immediate crisis.

More than a million people are homeless and a fifth of them still have no shelter, with the rainy season officially starting Friday and the hurricane season just around the corner.
Harris also points out that only half of the 9,000 latrines that are needed have been built.

 
Summary of Local Haitian News Print
Thursday, 01 April 2010 13:15
Below is a note from Mike Levy who has been monitoring and providing translations of the local news in Haiti from L'Agence Haitienne de Presse/Radio Solidarite. Their news coverage is available online in French and Kreyol at www.ahphaiti.org.
Most of the news reported over the past week by AHP News and Radio Solidarité has focused on the many conferences and preparatory meetings convened by the international community as well as the Haitian private sector, the Haitian Diaspora, commissions of the Haitian Parliament, civil society organizations and NGOs, and individual governments. Surely the sheer breadth and number of these meetings should be enough to indicate the high stakes involved. There can also be no question that Haitians are well able to match the international organizations and governments - if not with equal resources to hold meetings, at least with expertise, focus, commitment and passion. Some of these meetings were already taking place before the nightmare of the January 12th earthquake. Some draw upon documents prepared in recent years. All of them indicate a capacity and willingness to hold consultations on the question of rebuilding a better Haiti.
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