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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Mark Schuller: "Promoting Human Rights"

Mark Schuller: "Promoting Human Rights"

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Monday, 05 April 2010 11:33
Mark Schuller reports from Haiti on the aid efforts thus far, stressing the need for human rights to be respected. Schuller looks at the shelter situation as well as sanitation and food aid. In all three areas there are significant problems, according to Shuller. The camps are crowded, and the rains are putting strain on the shelter and turning the ground into mud. Food aid done by the large NGOs has bypassed local groups who have more knowledge of specific needs inside the camps. In the Solino camp of 6,000 that Schuller visited, there is not one single latrine. Where there are latrines the lines are long and there are even reports that in some camps they have began to charge a fee to use the bathroom.

There are also reports that at a camp on school grounds residents are feeling as though they are being starved out, being denied there rights to shelter, food and sanitation in an effort to get them to relocate. Schuller writes that the St. Louis de Ganzague school, "is a long-standing institution that educates the children of the so-called "political class."" Samuel Remy, from one of the camp committees, told Schuller:
"We're ready to move if the government provides us with a suitable location, which includes school. If it's a natural disaster such as flooding we understand. But they are moving us so that the children of a small minority can have education. What about us residents? There are 3,000 children here. Don't we pèp la ("the people," poor majority) have a right to school as well?
Schuller ends with a request; that aid organizations, donor countries and the Haitian government respect Haitian's human rights. Schuller writes:
At issue is how or even whether the government and donors who met last Wednesday in New York understand that survivors - and all people - have rights to water, food, education, and decent shelter. How and when these rights will be assured should be a matter of discussion not just in New York. True grassroots associations have the innovation, the organization, the information, the local respect, and the energy to find solutions, alternatives to the top-down model like the system of giving food cards and creating Astroturf groups to manage limited goods that excludes the majority of residents.

Specifically:

• The system of distribution needs to be overhauled and more inclusive, consulting with local residents and true grassroots organizations
• The food distributed should as much as possible include Haitian grown produce

• Decent shelter needs to be built and provided for everyone before people are moved from camps
• School needs to be provided for everyone, including children living in camps

Tags: aid distribution | rainy season | shelter

 

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