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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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American Refugee Committee: "A Public Health Disaster Looms" Print
Monday, 15 March 2010 12:17
The American Refugee Committee (ARC) issued a press release last week marking two months since the earthquake. ARC "warns that many more people may die from the spread of diseases brought on by the fast-approaching rainy season."

The release continues:
“A public health disaster looms, and thousands more people are still in need of assistance,” said Daniel Wordsworth, American Refugee Committee President. “Many people still need shelter, and, with the incoming rains, there is a potential for many more deaths from diseases such as malaria, typhoid, and diarrheal diseases.”
To read the entire press release, click here.

 
TransAfrica Forum: "U.S. Relief Efforts in Haiti Are Not Being Effective" Print
Monday, 15 March 2010 09:36
On March 11, TransAfrica Forum responded to the United States Southern Command, who said that “The situation on the ground in terms of the medical situation has improved,” and that “demand for medical care is not exceeding the capacity of facilities on the ground.” TransAfrica Forum president, Nicole Lee, who was in Haiti last week said, "aid is still trickling and has not nearly met the need.” The statement continues, "as the world turns its attention to the country’s longer-term reconstruction, Haiti’s people still face immediate food, shelter and sanitation shortages, as well as a severe health care crisis."

To read the entire statement, click here.
 
AP Reports on Shelter: 2 Months On, "It's got the makings of a major disaster." Print
Friday, 12 March 2010 18:10
A new AP article describes the lack of progress on shelter on the two-month anniversary of the quake, as aid groups that say they’re ready to provide housing but haven’t been told where they can build yet, the Haitian government “has yet to relocate a single person”, and hundreds marched demanding something be done:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Trash and sewage are piling up at the squalid tent camps that hundreds of thousands have called home since Haiti's devastating earthquake — and with torrential rains expected any day, authorities are not even close to providing the shelters they promised.
Read more...

 

 
Is the US Overstating What it's Done for Shelter? Print
Thursday, 11 March 2010 15:50
The White House issued a press release yesterday detailing the US government's response to the earthquake in Haiti. The release included this:
USAID has provided 160,000 plastic sheets and 24,500 family size tents that will help 185,000 families out of the estimated 260,000 families in need of shelter assistance.
Read more...

 

 
The Politics of Aid Print
Wednesday, 10 March 2010 10:12

Jacqueline Charles reports for the The Miami Herald today on the politics of aid in Haiti. Charles notes that despite hundreds of thousands still without shelter, the "behind-the-scenes jockeying" by aid groups, NGOs and governments alike will only increase. Charles writes:

The battle includes aid groups known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and U.N. agencies that want to be the chief humanitarian agencies, countries that are lobbying for a seat at the decision table, and leaders from around the world who fly in frequently making promises that have yet to be met.
Read more...

 

 
UNDP Haiti Country Director Previously Retaliated Against Whistleblower Who Exposed Fraud Print
Tuesday, 09 March 2010 16:46
Reuters reports today on the case of Ismail Ahmed, a whistleblower who worked for UNDP Somalia. Mr. Ahmed made protected disclosures of wrongdoing on the part of the UNDP, including "fraudulent payments and bogus contracts." The UN Ethics Committee ruled that he had been retaliated against for his disclosures. The retaliation included being transferred to a different country without proper support, and having damage done to his professional reputation.

The importance for Haiti is that the man Mr. Ahmed identifies as the main author of the retaliation is Eric Overvest, currently the UNDP Country Director in Haiti. The Government Accountability Project (GAP), which works to protect whistleblowers, issued a press release that states:
The move is a cause for concern as the ability of UNDP to monitor the disbursement of aid in Haiti has been severely compromised by the chaotic aftermath of the disaster.
Read more...

 

 
Haiti's Elections Must Be Inclusive and Fair Print
Tuesday, 09 March 2010 15:17
Hillary Clinton, speaking alongside Rene Preval, said that “I assured President Preval that the United States would work with the international community to hold elections as soon as appropriate.” She also commented that Preval had told her elections were vital “to ensure the stability and legitimacy of the Haitian Government.”

The AP reported last week that Edmond Mulet, head of MINUSTAH, also had said that the presidential elections must proceed. Legislative elections that were supposed to happen last month have been postponed.

Missing from these discussions is that there were significant flaws in the planned February election, 15 political parties were excluded from participating. The Provisional Electoral Council’s arbitrary exclusions included Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular party in Haiti. Furthermore, the are constitutional issues with regards to the Provisional Electoral Council’s legitimacy. The Haitian Constitution calls for a Permanent Electoral Council, however the current Provisional council’s members were appointed by Preval during his term in office. This is especially troubling since opponents of Preval’s INITE coalition were being excluded from the electoral process while INITE was not. Before the earthquake there had already been widespread anger with the decision.

Despite these facts, electoral support from the US and UN continued. When elections finally do proceed as scheduled, it is imperative that they are fully inclusive.
 
Preval: Food Aid Risks Damaging Economy Print
Monday, 08 March 2010 16:44
Haitian President Rene Preval arrives in Washington today and is set to meet with President Obama on Wednesday. Reuters reports on one of the key messages that will come from Preval:
Donations of food and water have proved a lifeline for more than 1.2 million people displaced by the quake, but Preval told a news conference on Monday the aid could in the long term hurt the economy of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

"I will tell him (Obama) that this first phase of assistance is finished," said Preval, standing in front of the ruined presidential palace in Port-au-Prince.

"If they continue to send us aid from abroad -- water and food -- it will be in competition with the national Haitian production and Haitian commerce," he said.
Read more...

 

 
Paul Collier: New Approach to NGOs Needed Print
Monday, 08 March 2010 14:50
Paul Collier writes for the Independent about the role of NGOs in Haiti's recovery and the need for a new approach to aid. Collier is a professor at Oxford and the author of "Haiti: From Natural Catastrophe to Economic Security", prepared for the UN Secretary General last year. Echoing both Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive, and Haitian President Rene Preval, Collier writes:
As the NGOs further scale-up, the already limited capacity of the state has been decimated. Essential as the NGOs have been, this imbalance threatens to leave the state marginalised in the core task of basic service provision.
Read more...

 

 
WSJ: "Social Structures Form in Haiti's Tent Cities" Print
Monday, 08 March 2010 12:45
The Wall Street Journal reports on the rise of self-governance in the make-shift camps, home to 1.3 million people. Miriam Jordan of the WSJ writes:
Inside the many tent cities now home to hundreds of thousands of people, a rudimentary social order is beginning to emerge as committees agitate to secure food, water and supplies in high demand from international aid organizations.
Read more...

 

 
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