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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Elections in the Time of Cholera, Part IV Print
Sunday, 28 November 2010 09:34
The following is the fourth installment of Alex Main's triplog from Haiti, click here for the first, here for the second, or here for the third:

Today, elections are being held in Haiti.  The country’s electoral authority, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP by its French initials), has approved 19 presidential candidacies and 950 legislative candidacies.  Though this may seem like a lot, a number of other candidates were barred from running by the CEP without real justification, including the list of parliamentary candidates presented by Haiti’s largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas. 

The U.S. and Organization of American States (OAS) criticized the unwarranted exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas from the 2009 legislative elections, though they still ended up endorsing the election results.  This time around, neither the U.S., nor OAS, nor any other major international actor has denounced the CEP’s decision to exclude candidates, though U.S. members of Congress and a number of civil society organizations have done so.   
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Elections in the Time of Cholera, Part III Print
Saturday, 27 November 2010 11:36

Leading up to the elections on Sunday we will be posting commentary from CEPR's Alex Main, who is in Haiti this week. The following is the third installment, click here for the first or here for the second:

After a heavy dose of meetings with foreign aid workers at the UN Log base we decide that it’s time that we heard from some of the Haitians most affected by the January 12 earthquake.  Over two days we visit a few of the tent and tarp camps around Port-au-Prince that are now home to nearly a million and a half individuals who lost their homes during the quake. Everywhere we go we ask camp dwellers – referred to in a clinical manner by the international aid community as internally displaced people, or IDPs – what they think of the elections, the cholera epidemic and the general situation of their country following the earthquake. 

Chanmas 

Located in the heart of downtown Port-au-Prince in the Chanmas public park, this camp lodges hundreds of families that lost their homes in the nearby neighborhoods of Kafou Fey and Fò Nasyonal which were hit particularly hard by the earthquake.  As is frequently the case with most of the camps throughout the city, Chanmas is an informal camp; in other words, the Haitian government never authorized the use of the site for temporary shelter.  According to camp dwellers and outside witnesses, Haitian authorities, with the backing of MINUSTAH and the Haitian police, have done everything they can to discourage people from staying by restricting aid and intimidating residents.  But for many of those who set up camp here in the days following the earthquake there was no other available space in the area and, to this day, there is nowhere else for them to go.  And so, despite the discomfort, hostility and lack of basic services they have for the most part stayed put.

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Elections in the Time of Cholera, Part II Print
Friday, 26 November 2010 11:05

Leading up to the elections on Sunday we will be posting updates and commentary from CEPR's Alex Main, who is in Haiti this week. The following is the second installment, click here for the first:

Every Tuesday morning at the UN Log base representatives of international agencies and relief organizations involved in post-quake relief operations meet in “cluster” meetings, where they share news regarding their various projects and discuss ways in which to coordinate and improve delivery of humanitarian assistance on the ground.  If there’s any place that can be considered the strategic hub of the relief effort, this is it.  We arrive at the base at 8am eager to learn more about how organizations are responding to the cholera crisis and what is being done, if anything, in relation to the November 28 legislative and presidential elections.  

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Is it Time for MINUSTAH to Wrap it Up? Print
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 16:27
At the UN General Assembly discussion on Haiti next Friday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in keeping with past practice, is likely to heap praise on MINUSTAH and the elections process. As we noted yesterday, MINUSTAH’s position on the rigged nature of the elections through party exclusion is to pretend there is no controversy: “Mulet said there have been no allegations of government manipulation of the campaign or any other wrongdoing,"  Bloomberg's Bill Varner reported yesterday. Voter access and registration? Miraculously, close the entire eligible voting population has already registered, disease outbreaks, homelessness, and other obstacles be damned.

Since MINUSTAH is doing such an amazing job at fulfilling their mission, perhaps it’s time to ask: when is MINUSTAH going to leave? Bob Naiman at Just Foreign Policy proposes that it’s time for a timetable for MINUSTAH’s withdrawal, and some foreign leaders are also calling for the UN troops to leave Haiti.

Naiman writes:
Haitian protesters have been chanting: "MINUSTAH go home," MINUSTAH being the name of the UN force.

Why do UN troops remain in Haiti? What are their plans for leaving? Is there a timetable for the withdrawal of UN forces from Haiti? If not, why not?

If the demands by Haitian protesters for UN forces to leave are not just, shouldn't someone have to explain why? No explanation is being given for why UN troops should remain in Haiti indefinitely.
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UN Urges Cholera Funds Now: “Let's worry about next year next year.” Print
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 14:43
The UN General Assembly is set to have a post-elections discussion on Haiti on December 3. No doubt the UN will again urge the international community to contribute to its emergency fund to fight cholera – an appeal that has largely fallen on deaf ears. As CBC reported yesterday:
Deaths from the cholera epidemic in Haiti could rise above 10,000 if help doesn't quicken, but bureaucracy is slowing aid down, says a Canadian who heads the United Nations humanitarian efforts in the Caribbean country.

"All the conditions for a massive cholera epidemic are present in Haiti," Nigel Fisher told CBC News. "It is exploding."

The United Nations puts the reported cholera death toll at 1,344, but says experts believe the tally could be as high as 2,000. Though official numbers state about 50,000 Haitians have been stricken by the disease, Fisher believes the true number could be closer to 70,000.

"If we don't move — we, the whole community and national counterparts — don't accelerate the process, we could see deaths going above 10,000 or so."

While additional funds are necessary to combat the outbreak, Fisher said the key to tackling the treatable disease are setting up more treatment centres and moving resources from future projects and reconstruction to cholera.

"This today is the most urgent crisis Haiti is facing," he said. "Put the resources in now. Let's worry about next year next year."
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Elections in the Time of Cholera, Part I Print
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 10:44
CORRECTION: Please note that the last paragraph of this post originally mistakenly referred to CRS when it should have referred to the American Red Cross. We apologize for the error, and have corrected the information below.

Leading up to the elections on Sunday we will be posting updates and commentary from CEPR's Alex Main, who is in Haiti this week. The following is the first installment:


It is a sunny Monday afternoon in Port-au-Prince and we are bouncing through a maze of small streets in a bruised Daihatsu SUV.  Since rubble continues to clog many of the main arteries of the city, we are taking bumpy, unpaved backroads through dusty neighborhoods rendered temporarily colorful by the multitude of campaign posters and signs that plaster nearly every available wall.  Everywhere we turn we see the faces and broad smiles of legislative and presidential candidates like popular compa musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martely, the pearly white businessman – and 2004 coup supporter – Charles Baker and, most of all, public works minister Jude Celestin, the INITE party candidate endorsed by outgoing president Preval, among others.  Nearly as ubiquitous are tent camps clinging to hills or lining the roadway, bursting with thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) made homeless by the January 12 earthquake, or tranbleman deté in Haitian Creole.  Along with frequent piles of rubble mixed with layers of trash, these camps are a constant reminder of the quake’s tragic aftermath and the glaring failure of both Haiti’s authorities and well-endowed relief organizations to respond effectively to the human and material devastation. 

We are here – a small group of us from the Washington NGO and think tank community – to get a better picture of the situation in Haiti and, in particular, of the electoral process that will unfold on November 26th.  As Haitians struggle to cope with the quake’s aftermath as well as the recent onset of a major cholera epidemic that has already killed at least 1400, they are also being called on to participate in legislative and presidential elections that many observers consider to be unfair and uninclusive.   Our goal is to meet with representatives of a wide array of sectors – from the burgeoning grassroots movements in IDP camps to international organizations tasked with administering the multibillion dollar relief and reconstruction efforts – and try to assess the potential impact of these elections and why, over ten months after the earthquake, the human emergency in Haiti seems to be worsening.
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Are MINUSTAH's Voter Progress Claims Too Good to Be True? Print
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 16:12
Bloomberg reports today:
[MINUSTAH head Edmond] Mulet said 4.5 million Haitians have been registered to vote for president and for seats in the parliament, and that campaign rallies and caravans are being held without incident. He cautioned that former Haitian soldiers and gangs may attempt to disrupt the voting.
Sadly, there was actually a fatal shooting incident today – media reporting a clash between supporters of  presidential candidates Jude Celestin and Charles Henri Baker, respectively, with two people dying.

If, as Mulet says, 4.5 million Haitians are registered to vote, this would be one million more people registered than in the last presidential election, and probably close to the entire voting age population (which was 4.3 million in 2006). This is highly unlikely, especially considering that over one million people were displaced, and some 300,000 killed, by this year’s earthquake.
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A Tale of Two Elections Print
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 13:24

HRRW's own Dan Beeton writes in today's Los Angeles Times:

Haiti is scheduled to hold elections on Nov. 28, and nothing — neither the cholera outbreak that has killed more than 1,000 people nor the fact that more than 1 million earthquake survivors remain homeless — seems likely to convince the Haitian government or its international backers that the vote should be postponed. It should be. Why? The electoral process is rigged. Unfortunately, the Obama administration seems happy to go along with the charade.

Earlier this month President Obama rightly condemned the bogus elections in Burma (renamed Myanmar by the military regime). He said: "The unfair electoral laws and overtly partisan Election Commission [controlled by the military regime] ensured that Burma's leading pro-democracy party, the National League for Democracy, was silenced and sidelined." And NLD party leader Aung San Suu Kyi

Now that a similarly flawed process is about to be repeated much closer to home, the Obama administration should be equally adamant in condemning it.
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Live-Blogging the Elections Print
Tuesday, 23 November 2010 11:17
CEPR's Alex Main is in Haiti this week along with delegates from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, TransAfrica Forum, and other organizations to observe events surrounding the elections, including police and UN response to any protests, possible voter boycotts, voter access and participation levels, the cholera epidemic and how it is affecting people; and the status of overall relief efforts. The delegation’s members will be in close contact with an array of local and national civil society organizations during their stay. Alex will provide periodic updates which we will post here.

On Sunday, we will live-blog the elections using reports from Alex and other on-the-ground sources based in Haiti. Check back throughout Sunday for new updates. Media interested in interviewing Alex or other observers in Haiti this week can contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 
Will UN's Appeal for Emergency Cholera Fund Fall on Deaf Ears? Print
Monday, 22 November 2010 16:52
The UN Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti has released updated data regarding the status of pledges made by donor countries in New York last March. As a cholera epidemic continues to spread, now claiming at least 1300 lives, the international community has failed to live up to their pledges. A total of $3.2 billion was pledged for 2010 alone, yet a full 35 percent of this is in the form of debt cancellation, which does not free up any fiscal space since Haiti was not paying interest on that debt. In total, out of the $2.12 billion in pledges for 2010 (excluding debt cancellation) just 42.3 percent has been distributed. The US, which made its first distribution last week, is counted as meeting 100 percent of their pledge, however this conceals the fact that the US changed its pledge time line in September of this year. After originally pledging $1.15 billion for 2010, in September the US pushed all of that funding back until fiscal year 2011 (which began in October). At this point the US has distributed just $120 million of its $1.15 billion pledge.

It is not just the United States, or individual governments that have failed to live up to their pledges. The European Commission has distributed just $48.6 million of its $223.6 pledge, while Canada is still $116 million short of its 2010 pledge. The Inter-American Development Bank has distributed just $50 million of the $326 million that it pledged.

Yet despite the dire situation on the ground, governments seem no more willing to open their wallets for Haiti. The UN says that only three percent of their $164 million emergency appeal to fight cholera has been funded. This only compounds the problem, as the original UN flash appeal from after the earthquake is still just 72 percent funded. The flash appeal to fight cholera is focused on three sectors: 1) health, 2) shelter, and 3) water, sanitation and hygiene. Yet these three sectors are still underfunded in the original appeal by almost $111 million dollars.
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