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Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction

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Rainy Season Fast Approaching Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 13:54
Thursday was the second major rain in the last week, increasing fears that the 1.2 million displaced from the earthquake will not have adequate shelter before the rainy season begins.

The rains, which only lasted for a few hours, caused some camps to turn into mud, and even flooded parts of Cite Soleil, AP reports. Pictures of the flooding can be seen here, or here.

President Rene Preval told Reuters that:
Every time I meet with foreign leaders and delegations, I tell them that [shelter] is the most urgent need.


Open Source Software Aiding Relief Efforts Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 12:43
Fast Company Magazine reports on the use of Open Source mapping software in the relief efforts. Open Source developers Tom Buckley and Schuyler Erle are working in Haiti.  Fast Company reports:
The pair are advising the World Bank on the use of crowd-sourced mapping, primarily through the open-source program OpenStreetMap, in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti.


"These Guys Are Like Vultures Coming to Grab the Loot" Print
Friday, 19 February 2010 10:38
Patrick Elie, former Defense Minister under Aristide and current aid to President Preval had the following to say to Inter-Press Service regarding private contractors in Haiti:
"These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster, and probably money that might have been injected into the Haitian economy is going to be just grabbed by these companies and I'm sure that they are not only these mercenary companies but also the other companies like Halliburton or these other ones that always [come] on the heels of the troops."


"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.


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.


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.


“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.


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.


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