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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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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...

 

 
2 Important Video Reports from Haiti Print
Friday, 12 February 2010 16:28
Watch Aljazeera’s Fault Lines for an examination into the debate over reconstruction plans for Haiti. Unlike too many reports, Fault Lines presents perspectives from Haitian economists and other experts on how Haiti can rebuild and develop in order to best serve the needs of the Haitian people.

The report also looks at the self-organization in communities of displaced earthquake survivors that has helped ensure aid distribution remains orderly and reaches everyone in need.
Read more...

 

 
UN "alarmed" at Lack of Support for Agricultural Needs Print
Friday, 12 February 2010 15:48
As UN agencies met in Rome to discuss the response to the earthquake in Haiti, General Jacques Diouf, of the Food and Agriculture Organization issued a stark warning:
“At a time when Haiti is facing a major food crisis we are alarmed at the lack of support to the agricultural component of the Flash Appeal,”
Read more...

 

 
"Recognizing the Right of Haitians to Reparations" Print
Friday, 12 February 2010 15:28
Writing for The Nation yesterday, Naomi Klein makes the case that Haiti is actually a creditor, not a debtor. Therefore, she argues, to speak of debt cancellation is really only a step in the right direction.

Klein outlines three major sources of the West's debt to Haiti: The Slavery Debt, The Dictatorship Debt and The Climate Debt.

One could add that the United States, France, Canada, and the World Bank also owe Haiti for having deliberately destroyed the economy and de-stabilized the country from 2000-2004, in order to topple the elected government. Since this was done openly, including an international cut-off of vitally needed aid, has been documented, and is quite recent as compared to the previous debts cited by Klein, it should be of prime importance. The renowned medical journal, the Lancet, has estimated that the dictatorship installed after the 2004 coup murdered around 4000 people in the greater Port-au-Prince area alone. It also jailed officials and supporters of the constitutional government. The foreign governments, including the United States, who organized, funded, and contributed to this coup are also responsible for the violence that ensued.
Read more...

 

 
"Were the Victims Going to Rob the Teams of Their Shovels or Life Saving Devices?" Print
Friday, 12 February 2010 15:16
Taiwans' Central News Agency reports that a China Times Group reporter, Liu Ping, who traveled to Haiti to cover the earthquake was upset by some of the media coverage of the security situation:
"Everyone was trying to survive, because they were looking for food and water, " the Washington-based correspondent said. "If there was more empathy in news reporting, the perspective would be different." Liu also lashed out at peacekeeping troops in Haiti. He said the troops told Taiwan's second rescue team not to go outside because it was not safe, but what the reporter saw were people who were staring over airport walls at the relief goods they hoped to receive as soon as possible.
Read more...

 

 
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