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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Haitian Government Abruptly Changes Course on Shelter Plan Print
Thursday, 25 February 2010 13:37
CNN reports that after weeks of planning “tent cities” to house earthquake survivors who lost their homes, the Haitian government is adopting an entirely new strategy. The new plan
revolves around registering residents of the camps and determining whether their homes can be rebuilt.
"If the home has been damaged, teams will be sent to remove the rubble, or a structural engineer will be sent to see if it can be fixed," said Mark Turner, spokesman for the Organization of International Migration, which is assisting in the effort.
Read more...

 

 
Children Airlifted To US May Not Be Orphans Print
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 13:45
Twelve Haitian children, airlifted to the US, may not actually be orphans, reports Ginger Thompson for the New York Times. Fifty-four Haitian children were airlifted to Pennsylvania in the aftermath of the earthquake, "organized by Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania and supported by top Obama administration officials." The Times reports:
But for 12 of the children, last month’s airlift transported them from one uncertain predicament to another. As it turns out, those children — between 11 months and 10 years old — were not in the process of being adopted, might not all even be orphans and are living in a juvenile care center here while the authorities determine whether they have relatives in Haiti who are able to take care of them.
Read more...

 

 
Lack of Sanitation Could Lead to Outbreak of Diseases Print
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 12:30
Patricia Mazzei reports for the Miami Herald on the lack of sanitation and the possibility of diseases spreading throughout the make-shift camps:
"But now, more than five weeks after the quake, the dangers of inadequate sanitation could amount to the most pressing public health issue in this quake-wrecked city. "
Read more...

 

 
Shelter Still Scarce With Rainy Season Fast Approaching Print
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 10:32
Ansel Herz, reporting for IPS, writes about the lack of secure shelter as the rainy season nears.

The UN reports that "[t]o date, over 104,000 tarpaulins have been distributed along with 19,000 family size tents." This provides only slightly more than a quarter of those displaced with shelter.

Even when tarps are handed out, it can be met with confusion, as Herz reports:
At a shelter distribution by CARE International at a camp in a Petionville public square, the tarps were received with a mixture of confusion and disappointment.

"It's not clear for us. We can't set them up because they don't send anyone to give an explanation," said Joseph Jean-Ones, whose family lives in the camp, as he tried to fit one metal pole on top of another.

His wife was given a gray tarp, a set of gleaming metal poles, and a single piece of paper with pictoral diagrams showing how to tie the materials together. The tarps do not come with text instructions, in Haitian Creole or any language.

"They should teach people how to set them up before distributing them," said another man, setting the supplies down on the ground. "Now we don't know what to do with it. It's like they're distributing problems to us."
CARE later told Herz that in the future they would set up an example tarp in each camp before distribution.

There has also been some controversy surrounding the use of tarps versus tents. The Shelter Cluster has largely decided that tents take up too much room and that tarps are the only viable shelter at this point. There are dissenting opinions, however. Herz reports:
"What we're about is shelter, warmth and dignity - it's difficult to get that with tarps," said John Leach, Shelterbox's Head of Operations, in an interview. He said the plastic tarps will prove inadequate under heavy rains.

"If tarps are that great, why are all the U.N. people living in tents?" he asked.
The reality is that no matter how much shelter material is distributed, the situation remains grave:
"No one is pretending that this offers anything but very partial protection from the rains," Alex Wynter, spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross, told reporters in a press briefing.

"I would say that the tents and tarpaulins, in addition to giving people a modicum of privacy, give people a tool with which they can stay dry overnight," he said. "But there's no doubt that we face a very grave crisis here, when the rains come."



 
Exodus From PaP Puts Pressure on Rural Communities Print
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 09:47
The Los Angeles Times reports on the stress that the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Haitians from Port-au-Prince has put on rural communities. This is especially significant with the planting season fast approaching and supplies hard to come by and money even tighter than usual. The Times reports:
Villagers are near the breaking point as they try to accommodate tens of thousands of displaced city dwellers just when they would be putting their precious resources into preparing for planting. In desperation, some have resorted to eating their meager seed stocks or killing their chickens and goats to feed the influx, rather than keeping them to sell.
Read more...

 

 
Haiti's First Public Medical School; A History of Occupation Print
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 16:33
A NACLA article offers a glimpse into the state of health care in Haiti - and perhaps why some Haitians may be skeptical of current U.S. and UN relief efforts - by examining the the history and evolution of "Haiti’s first and only public medical school." The school was a joint project by the governments of Taiwan, Cuba and Haiti.
In a declaration full of optimism and hope, the Dean of Health Sciences, Dr. Yves Polynice stated: “The inauguration of the Aristide Foundation University is an opportunity to renew our Hippocratic Oath where each physician pledges to care for the poor, widows, and orphans free of cost. We must be conscious that any illness affecting one citizen represents a threat to us all. Today we say ‘health care for all, without exclusion.’ ” On February 3, 2004, the hospital officially opened its doors and began treating many of Haiti’s most vulnerable. For many it was their first visit to a doctor.
Read more...

 

 
"Haitian Garment Workers Should Get $5 a Day" Print
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 14:49
Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, argues in the Huffington Post for raising the wage of garment workers in Haiti:
Americans want to help Haiti; Democrats control the U.S. Congress; the Haitian Parliament has passed legislation saying Haitian workers should be paid at least $5 a day; and specific legislation that provides preferential access to the U.S. market to garments from Haiti is already U.S. law. Therefore, the following policy reform ought to be a slam dunk: Haitian garment workers whose products receive preferential access to the U.S. market under the HOPE II Act ought to be paid at least $5 a day.
Read more...

 

 
Popular Radio in Haiti, Security Concerns Overstated Print
Tuesday, 23 February 2010 14:17
Beverly Bell, associate fellow at the Institiute for Policy Studies and Program Coordinator for Other Worlds, reports on Truthout about grassroots and popular radio in Haiti. Bell speaks with Sony Esteus, director of the Society for Social Mobilization and Communication:
I ask Sony to tell me about the importance of community radio in Haiti, the first priorities for rebuilding it, and the role it can play in reconstructing a just Haiti. First, he clarifies my terminology. SAKS works with community radio, but views itself as part of the network of popular radio, which he defines as radio in the struggle to transform society.
Read more...

 

 
Damning the Flood Print
Monday, 22 February 2010 15:40
Peter Hallward, author of "Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment," appeared on Democracy NOW! today to discuss the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti. To read the transcript or watch the video, click here.
 
Private Prison Company Gets Haiti Contract, Cont. Print
Monday, 22 February 2010 15:16
Last week we wrote about the GEO Group, recipient of a $260,589 contract for "guard services." The description of the contract says "Extend period of performance and add fund for Haiti surge." Although the full details of the contract do not seem to be available, it is likely that this refers to the current contract GEO Group has for running the Guantanamo Bay Migrant Operations Center.
Read more...

 

 
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