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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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"Washcloths arrived before water, and senators before surgeons" Print
Thursday, 18 February 2010 17:46
The Associated Press recieved exclusive access to the flight logs at Port-au-Prince airport, revealing a chaotic period where distribution of vital aid was often delayed or rerouted. AP reports:
The Air Force did initially give priority to military units that were sent to secure the airport, distribute aid and keep the peace. But then it started taking flights according to a reservation system open to anyone.

Because of that, key aid was delayed in some cases while less-critical flights got in.
Read more...

 

 
Bush Administration Veterans Have Plans for Haiti Print
Thursday, 18 February 2010 15:37
Roger Noriega of the American Enterprise Institute and former State Department official during the Bush administration writes today about “Priming the pump of private capital and promoting free market mechanisms,” in order to ensure Haiti’s recovery. The article was co-written by Francis Skrobiszewski. Noriega writes that:
Aid agencies are intensely preoccupied with providing essential humanitarian assistance in Haiti. Haitians, however, cannot wait for traditional development assistance experts to conceive and implement public and private-sector capacity-building, policy reform, educational initiatives and other long-term programs.
Read more...

 

 
Earthquake Causing Another Food Crisis? Print
Thursday, 18 February 2010 13:13
Last week the FAO announced its worry that immediate agriculture needs were not being adequately funded, there is also evidence of rising prices for basic foods such as rice. Following up on these reports, Inter-Press Service reports today on the likelihood of an emerging food crisis in post-earthquake Haiti:
"Everybody needs to understand the need to act right now, otherwise the planting season will be lost," Geri Benoit, Haiti's ambassador to Italy and the Rome-based UN food agencies, told IPS.
Read more...

 

 
“Groups Call on Donors to Advance Human Rights in Rebuilding Haiti” Print
Thursday, 18 February 2010 13:19
A broad coalition of groups with extensive experience in Haiti made their recommendations yesterday in advance of the donor conference scheduled for March. The coalition is comprised of: Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at NYU School of Law, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante, and the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center).

The recommendations focus on four main areas: building the capacity of the government to ensure human rights, transparency, accountability, and the empowerment of Haitian citizens.

To read the full recommendations click here.
 
We Need More Haitian Voices, and More Watchdogs Print
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:47

Media monitor and analyst Danny Schecter probes beneath the superficiality of TV-coverage of Haiti relief, and the focus on celebrity benefits, saying that “Entertainment and popular culture are moving and valuable but ongoing popular education on the issues is more important.”

Among Danny’s recommendations:

We need another professionally staffed website to insure public accountability and transparency on where all the money raised by international agencies, national governments and charities is going.
Read more...

 

 
Top Humanitarian Relief Coordinator for UN Criticizes Relief Effort Print
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 15:16
Colum Lynch, longtime Washington Post United Nations reporter, reports for the Turtle Bay blog at Foreign Policy:
The U.N.'s top humanitarian relief coordinator John Holmes scolded his top aid lieutenants for failing to adequately manage the relief effort in Haiti, saying that an uneven response in the month following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake was undercutting confidence in the U.N.'s ability to deliver vital assistance, according to a confidential email obtained by Turtle Bay.
Click here to read more, including the entire confidential e-mail.
 
Sarkozy Arrives in Haiti, To Pay Historical Debt? Print
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 10:18
French President Nicolas Sarkozy landed in Haiti this morning, the AP reports. It was the first visit by a French president to Haiti, described by the AP as once being the "nation's richest colony."

AP reports:
Some Haitians are welcoming France's new interest in their nation as a counterbalance to the United States, which has sent troops there three times in the past 16 years. But Sarkozy's visit is also reviving bitter memories of the crippling costs of Haiti's 1804 independence.

A third of the population was killed in an uprising against exceptionally brutal slavery, an international embargo was imposed to deter slave revolts elsewhere and 90 million pieces of gold were demanded by Paris from the world's first black republic.
Read more...

 

 
Contractors in Haiti, Readying to Profit from Disaster? Print
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 17:05

*This post has been edited slightly for accuracy.

With the Inter-American Development Bank saying that the reconstruction of Haiti could cost upwards of $14 billion, and with billions in aid already coming in to Haiti, it is vitally important to keep a close eye on where that money is being spent.

The Federal Procurement Data System - Next Generation, has set up a function where you can track contracts awarded for Haiti related work. The list, however, is not exhaustive; there is a message on the site saying that the list only “represents a portion of the work that has been awarded to date.”  For instance the US Agency for International Development lists only two contracts totaling just under $150,000. USAID, however, says that through the Office of Transition Initiatives they have already given $20 million to three companies: Chemonics, Internews, and Development Alternatives Inc. The reality may be that these companies have received even more money than that though. The Miami Herald reported on February 8 that:

The U.S. Agency for International Development has given two assignments for Haiti-related work to two beltway firms involved in international development: Washington, D.C.-based Chemonics International and Bethesda, Md.-based Development Alternatives Inc.

The emergency work assignments, which are worth $50 million each, are likely the first of many the agency will hand out to private firms to help Haiti get on its feet after the devastating quake Jan. 12.
Read more...

 

 
"Haitians are Holding on Despite the Inadequate Humanitarian Response" Print
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 10:55
Bill Quigley, Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, writes over the weekend in response to a comment US Ambassador to Haiti Ken Merten made regarding relief efforts. Merten addressed humanitarian aid delivery at a press briefing by saying:
And I think, frankly, it’s working really well, and I believe that this will be something that people will be able to look back on in the future as a model for how we’ve been able to sort ourselves out as donors on the ground and responding to an earthquake.
Read more...

 

 
The Role of Haiti's Elite Print
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 10:49
The Washington Post had an article yesterday detailing the role that Haitian elites will play in the rebuilding of the country:
Haiti's elite -- a small, politically connected group as comfortable lobbying President René Préval as lawmakers in Washington -- is positioning itself for business opportunities emerging from their country's reconstruction.
Read more...

 

 
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