When it comes to tightening oversight of USAID, senators are focused on a series of reporting requirements in the bill, which is cosponsored by Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. Among them are submission by USAID of a detailed multi-year strategy for supporting the rebuilding of Haiti and annual reports on the strategy’s implementation, along with a Government Accountability Office review.
The UN has announced it is investigating the killings of between 11 and 40 prison inmates in Les Cayes following the earthquake – an incident examined in a feature New York Times report over the weekend. The Times reports that eyewitness accounts blame police – who were backed up by UN forces – of carrying out the murders of prisoners as they lay on the ground, rather than a “prison ringleader” whom Haitian officials say committed the killings before vanishing. UN documents, the Haitian National Police inspector general’s own report, and statements by prison employees, judicial officials, and victims’ relatives also refute the “prison ringleader” story.
The Times reports that the massacre followed an escape attempt:
The escape plan, set in motion on Jan. 19 by an attack on a guard, proved disastrous. With Haitian and United Nations police officers encircling the prison, the detainees could not get out. For hours, they rampaged, hacking up doors and burning records, until tear gas finally overwhelmed them.
When it rains, his roof leaks. Food distributions are chaotic, if they happen at all. The toilets are so full of sewage that Eugene says he can't even use them.The contrast with what stands across the street however is most amazing:
More than 500 large white tents are laid out in rows on an expanse of leveled gravel. There are rows of brand new toilets. There are shipping containers fitted with clean shower stalls that have never been used. Tarps from the U.S. Agency for International Development are draped over each tent.
“This is the last May 18 I will spend with you as president,” Preval said. Pledging to pass his office to a successor on the constitutionally mandated day, he added, “I will go and my heart will be calm.”Preval’s announcement reiterated similar statements he made last week, and followed protests by thousands of people Monday in what AP described as “the strongest showing of opposition to the Haitian leader since the quake” expressing outrage over his handling of the post-earthquake crisis and suggestions that he might extend his term. AP noted that
Many demonstrators identified themselves as supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was exiled to Africa aboard a U.S. plane during a 2004 rebellion. Protesters marched to the national mall following speaker trucks that trumpeted calls for Aristide's return.
The report does a good job describing how - despite its fixation on Penn’s personality – that the boy’s life might have been saved had, first, vaccinations been available, and then, second, the antitoxin to treat diphtheria been more easily accessible once Oriel came down with the disease. Yet, as CNN reported, “it took Penn -- even with his star power -- 11 hours to get his hands on one dose.”After the report, the World Health Organization responded by saying that it was "just an isolated case and there are no other cases."
Cases of the disease were first reported on Saturday in Camp Batimat in Cité Soleil district, one of the settlements housing people displaced by the January earthquake, Christiane Berthiaume, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), told reporters in Geneva.
Haiti's parliament went out of business last Monday because the earthquake forced the cancellation of legislative elections in February. That has left President René Préval as the sole effective constitutional authority in the country, with no preparations undertaken so far to hold new elections.The Herald states that
Haiti's leaders need to unite in the common interest of organizing transparently free and fair elections in the shortest time frame possible.
Of the more than 1.5 million Haitians left homeless by the Jan. 12 earthquake, about 7,500 have been moved from the most dangerous areas of crowded tent cities to new resettlement sites. The conditions in those tent cities are grim. Thunderstorms are fierce, and the plastic sheets and tarps distributed after the disaster are fraying, along with the people’s patience.
Meanwhile, the demand for secure housing keeps growing as people who fled the capital, Port-au-Prince, move back, because that’s where most of the aid is.
Only the Clinton-Bush fund and Clinton Foundation refused to answer our questions, despite repeated e-mails and phone calls. Their websites say they've received $52 million in donor dollars, and have spent only about $7 million: less than one-seventh.
The Red Cross has raised $444 million and spent about 25 percent ($111 million) of it, including $55 million for "emergency relief," such as food and kitchen items, and $42.9 million for shelter including tarps, tents and blankets.
CARE has raised $34.4 million and spent about 16 percent ($5.75 million), $2.5 million of that on "shelter."
And at Catholic Relief Services: of $165 million committed to Haiti, it spent no more than 8 percent ($12.2 million), including $2.5 million on food $1.28 million on emergency shelter.
(Click on the links above for PDF’s with charts and reports breaking down income and expenditures.)
It is urgent that Congress approve a generous aid relief and reconstruction package that supports a sustainable, decentralized, Haitian-led recovery as soon as possible. A delay in approving the supplemental will postpone much needed efforts in Haiti and affect the replenishment of the International Disaster Assistance account, damaging the U.S. government's ability to address humanitarian crises around the globe.
There's a storm brewing in Haiti.The full show, with details from the investigation is set to air tonight on CBS Evening News, check your local CBS station for air time.
Not a storm from the rainy season bearing down, but a storm over why so many are still in dire straits a full four months after the earthquake.
Why so many are facing the ravages of the rainy season without safe shelter to protect them?A storm over how that could be the case when so much international aid has been committed to help the people of Haiti.
Critics such as Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic Policy and Research say more money should have been spent up front making sure the population's emergency needs were met. He argues that many donors who dug deep during their own tough times to give, thought they were putting immediate food in people's mouths, giving immediate medical help, and putting a roof over victims' heads now.
Protesters took to the streets of Port-au-Prince yesterday, reports AP. Thousands of Haitians came to demand that President Preval step down, angered by the decision to stay on an extra three months if elections are not conducted. AP put the number of protesters at 2000, while Reuters reported that police "used tear gas and warning shots to disperse" the crowds. Al Jazeera, looking at the causes of the protest, reported on the perceived political vacuum that has allowed significant powers to be consolidated in the executive branch and international community:
The entire lower house and one-third of the senate are no longer sitting because the earthquake prevented February's legislative elections from taking place. "Effectively the parliament is ceasing to exist as a governing body and the people on the streets are pretty concerned about that," Al Jazeera's Seb Walker, reporting from Port-au-Prince, said.
"It concentrates power in the hands of the president and the international commission that has been set up with former US president Bill Clinton as a co-chair.
The process must emphasize the greatest possible flexibility and participation by voters and candidates. Displaced people should be allowed to vote where they currently live, not their old destroyed neighborhoods.
Opposition parties will need aid to organize and campaign. In a country where transportation and communication are difficult and expensive, Mr. Préval’s Unity Party should not be given undue advantages.
The electoral council, now operating out of a gym seized in a drug raid, is also embroiled in controversy. Opposition candidates barred from February legislative elections that were canceled after the quake have accused council members of favoring Preval's newly formed Unity party. One council member also faces dismissal on charges of embezzlement.The article does not say whether the previously excluded political parties will continue to be left off the ballot when the postponed elections do take place, or even if a new registration of candidates and parties will be required before the elections. For more on the electoral council and the excluded parties in February's election, see this, this or this.
According to the latest UN figures, 1.3 million Haitians have been left homeless by the quake. Some of these Haitians are no longer sleeping in abandoned cars but in flimsy structures fashioned from plastic sheeting and salvaged wood--a minuscule improvement, to say the least. Over 218,000 survivors are living in makeshift camps in Port-au-Prince at immediate grave risk of flooding and landslides.
In the minds of too many of the privileged and the powerful, post-earthquake Haitian society has become little more than a faded photograph. Survivors' shelter and medical needs are no longer in focus or in vogue and too many relief efforts are being shortchanged. Virtually nothing is being done by either the Haitian government or international actors for those who will be flooded out of their squatter camps. Large-scale food aid--often distributed inequitably--has nearly run dry.
At the central plaza in Port-au-Prince, now home to thousands of displaced Haitians, water pelted rows of tents, seeping inside from every direction Monday night. At the Champs de Mars people tried to close shut entrances, some with thin cotton sheets or blankets. Mothers rushed to move children sleeping on the ground.
Suddenly, the constant noise of the street came to a halt, replaced by the thud of monstrous drops falling hard from the sky. The only welcomed sight: gleeful children cooling off after another scorching day.
The water quickly started collecting along the roadside. Aid workers say they fear that constant rain will overflow garbage- and rubble-filled canals, flooding the encampments that have sprouted on their banks.
The situation in some camps could be life threatening.
1. cancel immediately and completely all debt owed by Haiti to these institutions;...and also push for “the cancellation of all remaining bilateral, multilateral, and private creditor debt owed by Haiti” and to secure grants, instead of loans, from multilateral lenders for Haiti through January 2015.
2. suspend Haiti’s debt service payments to the institutions until the debt is canceled completely; and
3. provide additional assistance to Haiti in the form of grants so that Haiti does not accumulate additional debt.
But after consuming $106 million in the first 60 days, the Red Cross in the past month has tapped just $5 million more and has come under fire for what critics call anemic spending.The American Red Cross plans on spending about half of their donations this year, and the rest over a 3-5 year period, reports Robles. The former board member, Victoria Cummock, had some particularly harsh words for the organization, saying, "That's not disaster relief, that's long-term recovery, and that's not the Red Cross' mission and not the donor intent either."
Other aid groups, members of Congress, bloggers and even a former board member are among the growing chorus asking what the Red Cross is doing with such a massive amount of money raised in such a short time.
The organized relocation camp at Corail-Cesselesse has thousands of spacious, hurricane-resistant tents on groomed, graded mountain soil. The settlement three miles (four kilometers) down the road — named after the U.S. president in hopes of getting attention from foreigners — has leaky plastic tarps and wooden sticks pitched on a muddy slope.
Corail has a stocked U.N. World Food Program warehouse for its 3,000-and-counting residents; the more than 8,500 at Camp Obama are desperate for food and water. Corail's entrance is guarded by U.N. peacekeepers and Haitian police. Camp Obama's residents put up a Haitian flag to mark their empty security tent.
"Somebody's not doing their job right. Because, if this is as good as we can do, it's certainly not good enough."