Members of Congress Want Answers on Lack of Results from U.S. Assistance Effort
|Wednesday, 11 May 2011 15:44|
An editorial in the New York Times today describes the findings of a UN report that shows the cholera outbreak “may have originated” at a MINUSTAH camp, and says “The fact that the disease is still spreading is a reminder of how much more help Haiti needs and the consequences of continued neglect.”
The editorial concludes:
The editorial was, unfortunately, all too well-timed, as the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Pan-American Health Organization issued a new warning today of expected "(fresh) outbreaks of cholera in the West, including Port-au-Prince, South and Southeast Departments" accompanying heavy rains and possible flooding.
As we have recently noted, the ongoing cholera epidemic – which now seems to be entering a deadly resurgence, and could kill as many as 11,000 people this year, is closely linked to inadequate sanitation in the IDP camps. This is a theme also addressed in OCHA's warning today: "More water means more cholera and the sanitation in the country is still very weak," Reuters reported OCHA spokesperson Emmanuelle Schneider as saying.
Poor sanitation, a lack of suitable transitional housing, and the poorly funded cholera appeal are all markers of the international community’s failings to come through for the people of Haiti. Now, members of the U.S. Congress are demanding answers. Yesterday, the House passed, by voice vote, bill HR 1016, which, the Miami Herald reports, requires the Obama administration to send to Congress
…according to the Rep. Frederica Wilson (D – FL), who added an amendment to the bill regarding deportees.
Also covering the bill’s passage, AP's Jim Abrams reported that:
Rep Maxine Waters (D – CA), a co-sponsor of the bill, highlighted the cholera epidemic in her statement on the bill’s passage:
One thing the media coverage of HR 1016 failed to mention, however, is that some efforts for accountability have already been undertaken. The USAID Inspector General released an audit of USAID efforts to provide housing in Haiti nearly three weeks ago, finding significant problems. The audit, which we reported on last week, has yet to be mentioned in the press.
The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, meanwhile, announced that it is spending $2 million – to finish the construction of a luxury hotel. A press release states that the Oasis Hotel – perhaps a reference to the hotel’s intended function as an “oasis” from the poverty, rubble, and IDP camps that still characterize much of Port-au-Prince almost a year-and-a-half after the earthquake –
The press release goes on to say that “in addition to sleeping rooms,” the Oasis – which is also being funded by the World Bank – “will have significant meeting space and other business amenities.” In November 2010, independent journalist Ansel Herz, writing in the New York Daily News, pointed out that the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund had been soliciting donations directly for relief efforts. Herz wrote:
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, one year after the earthquake the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund had spent just over 30 percent of the money raised.