Tag Archive: Haiti

Jan 13 2018

Cable News Could Use More Like Joy Reid

MSNBC host Joy Reid does not suffer rude fools lightly. She asks direct questions of her guests and has the facts at her fingertips. Her interview this morning with Donald Trump apologist Pastor Mark Burns was the perfect example for other host of cable news on how to handle guests who won’t answer questions, spew …

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Aug 18 2016

UN Admits It Caused Haitian Cholera Epidemic

In the wake of the January 2010 earthquake that devastated poverty stricken Haiti, it was hit with a second disaster that October with an outbreak of a lethal strain of cholera that has never been seen in the Western Hemisphere. The source of the outbreak was easily and quickly traced to a UN peacekeepers from …

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Jan 18 2013

Haiti: Three Years Later

On Jan 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti. The quake alone killed an over 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. Ten months later a cholera epidemic broke out that has taken nearly 8,000 more lives. More than $9 billion has been donated from the public and private sectors to help rebuild. Yet three years later, there are still nearly 300,000 Haitians living in tents, the cholera epidemic is barely under control and the infrastructure is still a shambles.

‘Lack of national plan’ heightens struggle to rebuild unstable Haiti

by Mike Tran, The Guardian

Political instability, natural disasters and a cholera epidemic, plus a confused aid effort, mean there is still work for Haiti to do

For Father Kawas, who co-ordinated emergency response efforts in 2010 (video), several reasons lie behind the continued existence of tent cities where people swelter during the day and are soaked by evening rains.

But the main one is the government’s inability to acquire land from powerful families around the capital. “I think it’s difficult to rehouse these people because most of the land surrounding Port-au-Prince belongs to very powerful families and those families don’t want to give the land to the state to rehouse people. It’s a very big problem because those families are very powerful and they have many political resources so they can influence the decisions of the state.” [..]

Poverty was cited by Father Kawas as another reason why so many people remain homeless. “They don’t have enough money to rent a house, or to rebuild a house,” he says. “It is difficult for them because most of them don’t work, they have no jobs. NGOs cannot do everything. They cannot rehouse all the people in Haiti.” [..]

Haiti’s state institutions were fragile even before the earthquake and were weakened by the disaster. The Haitian government has received little in reconstruction funds as foreign governments have had little faith in its ability to handle the relief effort. That the government has yet to draw up a national reconstruction plan speaks volumes.

“The big problem for NGOs and for many actors in Haiti is the lack of a national plan for construction,” says Father Kawas. “The government speaks about that but right now, we don’t see this plan and we know that this plan is very important for the country, for the development of the country. For example, the NGOs are working separately, in isolation, and there is no co-ordination, there is no plan [from] the government, so for me it’s a real problem for the development of the country. And the international organisations do the same.”

Father Kawas acknowledges the difficulties in trying to strengthen his government, but urged aid agencies to provide training for public employees, as well as to help parliament and political parties.

“In Haiti, the public administration does not function, it’s a real problem. The government cannot put in practice its policies if the public administration does not function so it’s a real necessity for foreign governments to help the Haitian government find solutions.”

Haiti’s earthquake generated a $9bn response – where did the money go?

by Vijaya Ramachandran, The Guardian

Uncertainty about the scale and outcome of spending following Haiti tragedy highlights need for greater transparency

Saturday (Jan 12, 2010) marked the third anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti that claimed between 230,000 and 300,000 lives. The grim landmark has prompted much discussion about the struggles surrounding reconstruction and also some hope about what may come next.

Most observers agree that the international response to the quake was overwhelming. Haiti received an unprecedented amount of support: more than $9bn (£5.6bn) in public and private donations. Official bilateral and multilateral donors pledged $13bn and, according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, almost 50% of these pledges ($6bn) have been disbursed. Private donations are estimated at $3bn.

Where has all the money gone? Three years after the quake, we do not really know how the money was spent, how many Haitians were reached, or whether the desired outcomes were achieved. In a policy paper published in May, and in a more recent blogpost, we unpacked the numbers, many of which came from the UN Office of the Special Envoy.

Three Years After the Quake, How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster

Three years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we’re joined by Jonathan Katz, author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” The earthquake on January 12, 2010, ultimately resulted in the deaths of roughly 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless in what was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. A cholera epidemic, widely blamed on international U.N. troops, killed almost 8,000 people, making more than half a million sick. Today, despite pledges of billions of dollars in international aid, rebuilding has barely begun, and almost 400,000 people are still living in crowded camps. After four years of reporting in Haiti, Katz joins us to discuss where the reconstruction effort went wrong

Part 2: Jonathan Katz on How the World Came to Save Haiti After Quake and Left Behind a Disaster

There is hope for Haiti, despite what the critics say

There is still a long way to go.

May 26 2012

Cholera: Haiti’s Epidemic

After the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on January 2010, the United Nations sent peace keeping troops from around the world to assist with keeping order during the recovery process, Unfortunately, some of those forces introduced a virulent strain of Cholera that was until October 2010 never seen in the Western Hemisphere. The faulty sanitation contaminated the Artibonite River, the longest and most important river in Haiti. The UN has refused to acknowledge its responsibility and has done little to help treat, prevent and control the disease.

The enormity of the epidemic is in the numbers that are increasing as this is written. Since October 2010, over 500,000 cases have been reported, including 7,000 deaths. In a New York Times Editorial on May 12, it was reported that this year’s toll could effect another 200,000 to 250,000 people:

Doctors Without Borders said this month that the country is unprepared for this spring’s expected resurgence of the disease. Nearly half the aid organizations that had been working in the rural Artibonite region, where this epidemic began and 20 percent of cases have been reported, have left, the organization said. “Additionally, health centers are short of drugs and some staff have not been paid since January.”

It gets worse: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this month that cholera in Haiti was evolving into two strains, suggesting the disease would become much harder to uproot and that people who had already gotten sick and recovered would be vulnerable again.

From Doctors Without Borders press release:

While Haiti’s Ministry of Health and Populations claims to be in control of the situation, health facilities in many regions of the country remain incapable of responding to the seasonal fluctuations of the cholera epidemic. The surveillance system, which is supposed to monitor the situation and raise the alarm, is still dysfunctional, MSF said. The number of people treated by MSF alone in the capital, Port-au-Prince, has quadrupled in less than a month, reaching 1,600 cases in April. The organization has increased treatment capacity in the city and in the town of Léogâne, and is preparing to open additional treatment sites in the country. Nearly 200,000 cholera cases were reported during the rainy season last year, between May and October. [..]

An MSF study in the Artibonite region, where approximately 20 percent of cholera cases have been reported, has revealed a clear reduction of cholera prevention measures since 2011. More than half of the organizations working in the region last year are now gone. Additionally, health centers are short of drugs and some staff have not been paid since January. [..]

The majority of Haitians do not have access to latrines, and obtaining clean water is a daily challenge. Of the half-million survivors of the January, 2010 earthquake who continue to live in camps, less than one third are provided with clean drinking water and only one percent recently received soap, according to a April 2012 investigation by Haiti’s National Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that the cost of adequate water and sanitation systems will run from $800 million to $1.1 billion. That money is available from funds that were pledged from other nations.

Awareness needs to be raised. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, a human rights group, has sued the United Nations on behalf of 5,000 cholera victims and there is a Congressional letter to US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice urging UN authorities to play a central role in addressing the epidemic.

Just Foreign Policy has set up a petition pressing the UN to take formal responsibility for the epidemic and do more to alleviate the cholera epidemic:

Tell Congress: Urge UN to Alleviate Cholera Crisis in Haiti

The United Nations bears heavy responsibility for the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti-it has become widely accepted that UN troops introduced the disease into the country via the UN’s faulty sanitation system. Even a UN panel has conceded this point. Yet, the UN has done little to treat, prevent, and control the disease. Rep. John Conyers’ office is circulating a letter to Amb. Rice urging UN authorities to play a central role in addressing the ongoing cholera crisis in Haiti.

The effort to contain this epidemic needs support. There are lives to be saved.

Note: The photo by Frederik Matte is from the Doctors Without Borders web site of patients affected by cholera receive treatment at an MSF cholera treatment center in Port-au-Prince.

Feb 01 2011

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Comedy Central Presents… Michele Bachmann

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see the large number of reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

:: ::

Trying to watch her taped response is worse than annoying, and the woman makes up her own facts as she goes, which has come to define her.

In short, if this is the best that the Tea Pot party has to offer, then there’s really nothing to see or hear that has not been offered time and again.  I really don’t care for parrots.

Michele Bachmann is also defined by her presumptive beliefs, obtained God only knows where.

 

Jan 19 2011

The Return of a Tyranical Dictator: Up Date

In a surprising move, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned to Haiti on Sunday from exile in France 25 years after being driven out by mass protests. He didn’t speak to reporters and statements from those who spoke with him would only say that he was happy to be back in Haiti:

Baby Doc, along with his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, were feared and reviled by Haitians for their long reign of terror. The Duvaliers tortured and killed their political opponents with impunity, backed by the Tonton Macoute secret police.

In 1986 Haitians danced in the streets when the young, pudgy tyrant was driven to the airport in a black limousine and flown into exile in France. But a handful of loyalists have been campaigning to bring Duvalier home, launching a foundation to improve the dictatorship’s image and reviving Baby Doc’s political party in the hopes that one day he can return to power democratically.

The prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, said that if Duvalier was involved in any political activities, he was unaware of them. “He is a Haitian and, as such, is free to return home,” the prime minister told the Associated Press.

In 2007, President Rene Preval said that Duvalier could return but would have to face justice for the deaths of thousands of people and the theft of millions of dollars.

With the prodding of world wide protests, the Préval government made good on their word arresting Duvalier and charging him with corruption:

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was charged with corruption and the theft of his country’s meagre funds last night after the former Haitian dictator was hauled before a judge in Port-au-Prince

Two days after his return to the country he left following a brutal 15-year rule, a noisy crowd of his supporters protested outside the state prosecutor’s office while he was questioned over accusations that he stole public funds and committed human rights abuses after taking over as president from his father in 1971.

“His fate is now in the hands of the investigating judge. We have brought charges against him,” said Port-au-Prince’s chief prosecutor, Aristidas Auguste.

He said his office had filed charges against Duvalier, 59, of corruption, theft, misappropriation of funds and other alleged crimes committed during his period in power.

Those charges seem pretty mild for someone as the New York Times says “is widely blamed for one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history – and whose government has been accused of kidnapping, torturing and murdering thousands of political opponents.”

There are more than a few questions about not just the reason for Duvalier’s return but why he was not stopped from returning to a country devastated by an earthquake, in the midst of a cholera epidemic and disputed elections. Marcy Wheeler at FDL details the efforts that were made blocking Duvalier’s return in 2006:

Five years ago, BabyDoc Duvalier applied for a passport for Haiti, threatening to return in a period leading up to elections. As a series of Wikileaks cables make clear, the US pressed hard-with apparent success-to prevent his return to Haiti. One cable shows the US asking France, on January 11, 2006, whether it could prevent Duvalier from leaving that country. Another shows the US raising concerns about Duvalier with Haiti Prime Minister Latortue that same day, and again on January 16. And the US raised the same concerns with the Dominican Republic, first (as far as we can tell from the cables) on January 11 and then again on February 7, 2006.

So what happened? The US made a concerted effort to stop his return in 2006. As Marcy asks, was the Obama administration unable to stop him, or did they choose let him return?

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has some questions, too. In a statement released yesterday, Rep, Waters expressing her concern and demanding that Duvalier be prosecuted for human rights violations but called for an investigation into his return:

It is absurd and outrageous that anyone would even think to take advantage of this situation to facilitate Baby Doc Duvalier’s return to Haiti.  Unfortunately, he has returned, and it is important to ask why.  Who assisted Duvalier in his return?  Where did he get the money to pay for his return?  Were any officials of the U.S. Government aware of his plans to return?  Was the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aware?  If so, was any action taken to stop him from returning or to ensure that he would be arrested and prosecuted for his crimes and not allowed to usurp power if he did return?

I am deeply concerned that the wealthy elites of Haiti who supported the Duvalier regime in the past, along with the assistance of international agencies, may have encouraged Duvalier to return in the hope that the flawed elections will create a power vacuum that could allow him to take power once again.  I am even more concerned that OAS officials may be wittingly or unwittingly helping to create precisely the type of power vacuum that would enable him to do so.

It is important that we determine what role U.S. officials played, if any, in facilitating Duvalier’s return.  It is even more important that we determine what role the U.S. Government will play moving forward.

Lots of questions, indeed.

Up Date: There is some positive news about the 25 year battle to recover the funds stolen by Duvalier and deposited in a Swiss bank account. The assets were frozen by Switzerland which until the new change in the law were only able to freeze the assets “for a limited period to allow space for attempts to seek restitution through the courts, a measure it stretched to its very limit with the assets from Haiti.”

As of February 1 a new law will allow The Haitian government to recover funds held in Swiss bank.

Jan 12 2011

Haiti: One Year later

Early in the evening a year ago, I was sitting where I am now writing a diary and browsing the Internet, thinking about dinner. My thoughts were abruptly interrupted by my cell phone’s emergency alert, the house phone ringing and my husband’s cell phone alerts beeping frantically. “Earthquake; Haiti; Lost contact with PauP” were some of the text messages that began flooding the screen of my cell phone. I can’t explain the reactions that this triggers, only to say that it makes me cold and shivery. It passes and what is now an instinctive secondary reaction takes over, check in with “emergency desk”, activate notifications to other “team” members to get their gear,etc. It is a check list I now have memorized.

A few hours later, we were on our way to the airport where we met up with the rest of our “assessment team” and headed for Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It took another day to get into Port au Prince with what little we carried, thanks to the good will of a news organization that had a large helicopter, the only aircraft able to land at the incapacitated airport. The initial assessment was worse than I had seen in other disaster areas, 95% of the city was severely damaged, much of it leveled. A year later and currently in the midst of a Cholera epidemic that shows little signs of abating, there is some progress but hardly enough to ease the suffering of a devastatingly and chronically impoverished country.

A Look at Haiti, One Year After the Devastating Earthquake

MSF Report on Haiti: Despite Massive Aid Response, Significant Needs Remain One Year After Quake

MSF issues review of emergency response and current gaps in medical care; shelter, water and sanitation, and secondary health care challenges

Port-au-Prince/Geneva/New York, January 10, 2011 While overall access to basic healthcare has improved since the earthquake, the rapid spread of cholera across the country underscores the limits of the international aid system in responding effectively to new emergencies. International agencies must live up to the commitments made to the Haitian people and to donors by turning promises into more concrete actions, said MSF.

Urgent humanitarian needs must be met while long-term reconstruction plans are pursued. The overall health of the population and the ability to contain the risk of disease outbreaks depend on improving water and sanitation and ensuring that the one million people still living in tents have access to sufficient transitional shelter.

Haiti Earthquake Recovery One Year Later

After massive aid, Haitians feel stuck in poverty

By William Booth

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 11, 2011; 12:02 AM

PORT AU PRINCE, HAITI – One of the largest and most costly humanitarian aid efforts in history saved many lives in the aftermath of last January’s earthquake but has done little to ease the suffering of ordinary Haitians since then.

As U.S. officials, donor nations and international aid contractors applaud their efforts – all the latrines, tents and immunizations – the recipients of this unprecedented assistance are weary at the lack of visible progress and doubtful that the billions of dollars promised will make their lives better.

Since the Jan. 12 quake, the roads are worse, electricity spotty and rice costs more. Carnival is being canceled again. There are still few jobs. President Rene Preval is missing from public view. Political paralysis grips the country. The results of the mismanaged, chaotic Nov. 28 presidential elections remain a mystery. After uncovering troubles with the conduct of the vote, a monitoring team from the Organization of American States is set to recommend that the government-backed presidential candidate be eliminated from the second round of voting, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Oct 25 2010

Death In The Time Of Cholera

Haiti, ravaged for centuries and suffering long before its enormous, destructive earthquake, now braces for a huge cholera epidemic.  The cholera epidemic on Saturday had already killed more than 200 and there are more than 2600 reported cases.  Today the news is still bad.  The NY Times reports:

Diarrhea, while a common ailment here, is a symptom of cholera. And anxiety has been growing fiercely that the cholera epidemic, which began last week in the northwest of Haiti, will soon strike the earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

Sep 12 2010

Haiti: It’s Not Any Better

It is now eight months since the devastating earthquake struck Haiti virtually leveling its capital Port au Prince. It’s not any better. One of the biggest obstacles to progress is the ruble and there is no one in charge.

Haiti Earthquake: Just 2 Percent Of Quake Debris Has Been Cleared

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – From the dusty rock mounds lining the streets to a National Palace that looks like it’s vomiting concrete from its core, rubble is one of the most visible reminders of Haiti’s devastating earthquake.

Rubble is everywhere in this capital city: cracked slabs, busted-up cinder blocks, half-destroyed buildings that still spill bricks and pulverized concrete onto the sidewalks. Some places look as though they have been flipped upside down, or are sinking to the ground, or listing precariously to one side.

By some estimates, the quake left about 33 million cubic yards of debris in Port-au-Prince – more than seven times the amount of concrete used to build the Hoover Dam. So far, only about 2 percent has been cleared, which means the city looks pretty much as it did a month after the Jan. 12 quake.

Government officials and outside aid groups say rubble removal is the priority before Haiti can rebuild. But the reasons why so little has been cleared are complex. And frustrating.

Heavy equipment has to be shipped in by sea. Dump trucks have difficulty navigating narrow and mountainous dirt roads. An abysmal records system makes it hard for the government to determine who owns a dilapidated property. And there are few sites on which to dump the rubble, which often contains human remains.

Jul 12 2010

Haiti: 6 Months Later: Up Dated

Emergency response after the Haiti earthquake: Choices, obstacles and finance

Six months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti on 12th January 2010, this report describes the evolution of MSF’s work during what is the organisation’s largest ever rapid emergency response. It attempts to explain the scope of the medical and material aid provided to Haiti by MSF since the catastrophe, but also to set out the considerable challenges and dilemmas faced by the organisation. It acknowledges that whilst the overall relief effort has kept many people alive, it is still not easing some of their greatest suffering.

snip

The earthquake destroyed 60 per cent of the existing health facilities and 10 per cent of medical staff were either killed or left the country. MSF had to relocate services to other facilities, build container hospitals, work under temporary shelters, and even set up an inflatable hospital. With over 3000 Haitian and international staff working in the country, MSF currently manages 19 health facilities and has over 1000 beds available at various locations. The organisation has provided emergency medical care to more than 173,000 patients between January 12th and May 31st.

snip

Six months on, the medical provision for the majority of citizens has been significantly improved in general and some poor people who were unable to access healthcare prior to the disaster are now able to recieve care.