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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Important Video on Conditions in IDP Camps Print
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 16:00
The New Media Advocacy Project together with Partners in Health and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti have released an important video showing the struggle in the IDP camps. With the rains already beginning, over 300,000 are without any shelter and the tarps that the lucky ones have are barely holding up.  The organizations have a simple message:
The international community must do a better job of delivering aid more quickly and effectively to Haitians living in camps in and around Port-au-Prince.
Click here to view this important video.
 
IPS Report on the Ongoing Military Presence in Haiti Print
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 09:12
Ansel Herz reports for Inter-Press Service on the ongoing military presence in Haiti. Specifically, the article focuses on the role of MINUSTAH, the UN peacekeeping force that has been in Haiti since 2004. Herz reports that a group of women who were receiving food aid were tear gassed by the peacekeepers recently. There is also a zoning system that designates different zones either green, orange or red, drawing comparisons from some to the mapping of a war zone. The red zones are areas where groups are advised not to go, and Herz writes that the map he was given only had red zones covering the slums of Cite Soleil and Bel Air. Further, Herz reports that at the UN compound near the airport, Haitian's are often turned away because they lack a proper pass. The article begins:
On an empty road in Cite Militaire, an industrial zone across from the slums of Cite Soleil, a group of women are gathered around a single white sack of U.S. rice. The rice was handed out Monday morning at a food distribution by the Christian relief group World Vision.

According to witnesses, during the distribution U.N. peacekeeping troops sprayed tear gas on the crowd.
Read more...

 

 
Washington Post Reports on the US' "New Approach to Aid" Print
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 12:27
Mary Beth Sheridan reports for the Washington Post on the US' new approach to aid in Haiti:
An internal Obama administration assessment concludes that the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact," according to a summary of the review, which has not been publicly released.

On Wednesday, at an international donor conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to outline U.S. plans to spend an additional $1 billion or so to rebuild the earthquake-devastated nation.

This time, U.S. officials say, they will do things differently.
Read more...

 

 
A Look at the Haiti Reconstruction Plan Print
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 11:50
Colum Lynch reports for the Washington Post on the action plan that President Preval will present to the donor conference at the UN tomorrow. Lynch writes that the plan would "redirect much of Haiti's economic development outside Port-au-Prince." The plan details how money will be spent over the next 18 months. Lynch quotes from the plan:
"Rebuilding Haiti does not mean returning to the situation that prevailed before the earthquake," according to the 53-page document, the first detailed account of how Haiti and its international backers plan to spend their money over the next 18 months. "It means addressing all these areas of vulnerability, so that the vagaries of nature or natural disasters never again inflict such suffering or cause so much damage and loss."
Read more...

 

 
Paul Farmer: NGOs "Need to Read the Writing on the Wall" Print
Tuesday, 30 March 2010 09:26
Paul Farmer, speaking at Barry University, said that NGOs were not doing enough to help the Haitian people after the earthquake, reports the Miami New Times blog. The article continues:

"There's graffiti all over the walls in Port au Prince right now saying, 'Down with NGOs,'" Farmer said in a speech at Barry University. "I think people in the NGO sector need to read the writing on the wall."
Read more...

 

 
Group Releases Compilation of Documents Outlining Plans for a Haitian Led Reconstruction Print
Monday, 29 March 2010 13:28

A group of Washington based groups, the "ad-hoc Haiti advocacy coalition", released a document today which includes numerous recommendations for implementing a Haitian led reconstruction. The purpose of the document is "to ensure that Haitian input is accessible to international policymakers, donors, and media as critical strategy and funding decisions are being made that will impact Haiti’s future. The compilation consists of documents from Haitian civil society, international NGOs, coalitions and diaspora conferences. Below are some of the general points and principles for guiding both short-term and long-term reconstruction:

Read more...

 

 
Forecast Calls for Rain, Could See Rise in Pediatric Diarrheal Disease Print
Monday, 29 March 2010 11:06
Dr. Jim Wilson, of Praecipio International, posted on the Shelter Cluster website a warning of a possible crisis of Pediatric Diarrheal Disease. The forecast "calls for thunderstorms beginning this Wednesday and lasting at least through the following Tuesday."

Wilson notes the concern on the ground about rises in diarrheal disease, especially in regards to children. He notes that it, "has already been documented that diarrheal disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality both before the earthquake and after.  We have observed apparent ‘bumps’ in diarrheal disease incidence following periods of sustained rainfall..."
Read more...

 

 
New York Times: "Haiti’s Misery" Print
Friday, 26 March 2010 13:54
A New York Times editorial today calls attention to the ongoing struggle in Haiti. The editorial calls for urgent efforts on shelter and sanitation and highlights a recent Amnesty report detailing a rise in cases of rape in the IDP camps. The Times also stresses the need for coordination with the Haitian government. The Times writes:
The emergency in Haiti isn’t over. It’s getting worse, as the outside world’s attention fades away.

Misery rages like a fever in the hundreds of camps sheltering hundreds of thousands of the 1.3 million people left homeless by the Jan. 12 earthquake. The dreaded rains have already swamped tents and ragged stick-and-tarp huts. They have turned walkways into mud lakes and made difficult or impossible the simple acts of collecting and cooking food, washing clothes, staying clean and avoiding disease. The rainy season peaks in May.
Read more...

 

 
Bill Clinton: 40,000 May Die in Rainy Season Print
Friday, 26 March 2010 13:21

The AP reports on a speech Bill Clinton gave to aid organizations working in Haiti. Clinton issued a stark warning; if urgent efforts are not made to relocate those displaced, up to 40,000 may die during the rainy season. Clinton stressed the need for aid organizations to empower the Haitian government, and make efforts to turn Haiti into a self-sufficient nation, echoing statements made by human rights groups to the Inter American Commission earlier in the week. The AP reports that Clinton said:

Every time we spend a dollar in Haiti from now on we have to ask ourselves, 'Does this have a long-term return? Are we helping them become more self-sufficient? ... Are we serious about working ourselves out of a job?
As Haitian officials have consistently said, they face serious budget issues and are unable to pay many workers, as such, Clinton asked organizations "to allocate 10 percent of their spending in Haiti for government salaries and employee training." Clinton also urged organizations in Haiti to "participate in an online registry and make their expenditures transparent."

To read the entire article, click here.
 
Obama Asks for $2.8 Billion for Haiti Print
Thursday, 25 March 2010 10:19

Yesterday, President Obama formally asked congress (PDF) to approve ammendements to the budget in the amount of $2.8 billion. It is important to note that most of this money can be used to reimburse funds that were already spent by the agencies, so the total new assistance will not be the total $2.8 billion. The BBC reports that the Senate is " is said to be close to a bill meeting Mr Obama's request." Following is the breakdown of agencies that would receive funding:

$150 million to the Department of Agriculture (food aid).

$655 million to the Department of Defense.

$220 million to the Department of Health and Human Services.

$60 million to the Department of Homeland Security.

$1,491 million to USAID and the State Department.

$219.8 million to the Department of the Treasury.

$5.2 million to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

You can read the whole document here, and see the breakdown within agencies.

 
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