Aid workers said people were swept screaming into eddies of water and flows ripped down tents an Israeli aid group is using to teach school.
"They were crying. There was just fear down there. It was chaos," said Jim Wilson of the aid group Praecipio, who came running from his own shelter up the hill when he heard the screams.
Two months after the earthquake, thousands in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere still await a first glimpse of humanitarian aid. In the four makeshift camps we visited during our first days in Haiti, life is a daily struggle and conditions are dire to say the least.Amnesty notes that there have been numerous reports of rape and sexual abuse in the camps since the quake:
People are without water, food, sanitation or shelter. Resilience and solidarity with each other are the only things these camp-dwellers can rely on.
The day we visited the police station, a male officer on duty at the table unwillingly counted for us the number of cases registered in the log book: 52 cases of physical and sexual violence since the earthquake.Amnesty, which has sent a mission to Haiti, ends their update with the most pressing issue:
He said that many victims were minors, aged between 11 and 16, and that most of the assaults took place at night.
Although he knew where to refer victims for medical attention after a sexual assault, he was unable to explain why, on the previous night, a mother seeking police assistance in the attempted rape of her 17-year-old daughter by four young men, was told that the police could not do anything and that the security in the camps was the responsibility of the President of the Republic. Quite a blow for the population’s confidence in the police…
The rainy season looms and all the people we talked to fear the worst. Shelter is what they need and what they ask for. That is their priority.
In the coming weeks, the United Nations, in conjunction with the government and other relief organizations, will begin a communication effort to reach the displaced population, including radio, text messages, television news and even a television soap opera to drive home the point that masses of people must be relocated.
In advance of a March 31 donors' conference on Haiti, health officials are scrambling to assemble a better picture of the country's needs -- but the bulk of relief groups aren't exactly cooperating. To assist with medium- and long-term planning, Haiti's Ministry of Health has required all new organizations arriving in Haiti to provide information about how many people would be on the ground, what their skill sets were and for how long they'll stay. Yet even that rudimentary information has been hard to come by.This situation is not unique to the health sector. Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and Haitian President Rene Preval have both made similar statements. Reuters reported that Bellerive said:
"We don't know who has given money to NGO's (nongovernmental organizations) and how much money have they given. ... At the moment, we can't do any coordination or have any coherent policies for giving to the population."Preval, in an interview with the Miami Herald noted that while millions have been pledged, very little has gone to the Haitian Government. An AP analysis of aid in the aftermath of the quake found that only one cent of every aid dollar went to the Haitian Government.
Two months after arguably the worst natural disaster of modern times, Haiti faces further calamity as more than 200,000 quake survivors camp in putrid tent cities at risk of major flooding.
Heavy rains fell in Port-au-Prince on Monday, and flooding has already killed at least 13 in other areas of Haiti. The Shelter Cluster plans to have around 93% of those in need of shelter equipped with atleast a tarp or tent by May 1, but with the hurricane season beginning in June it will be impossible to provide adequate shelter to deal with the bigger storms. The Red Cross said today that most people will still have only temporary shelter by the time the hurricane season begins, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur:
However, more durable solutions would not be ready by June, said Pablo Medina, a member of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies.
Instead, communal hurricane shelters were being considered as the only viable option, with the majority of those made homeless after the quake expected to still be living in temporary tents and similar units.
But after nearly two months, it’s not enough. Only half of those displaced have received even the crudest means of emergency shelter: plastic tarps and tents that will hardly protect them when floods start in earnest next month, and the hurricanes come in June. In hundreds of crowded settlements around the country, like the ones sheltering more than 600,000 in Port-au-Prince, food, water, medical care and security remain spotty.The Times urges more coordination with local groups:
Large swaths of the earthquake zone remain untouched by aid. They are choking in rubble, and trucks and volunteers have barely begun to scratch out safe places in the wreckage for people to live.
There is a burning need to tap the energies of Haitians — not just the devastated national government. That means at the grass-roots, church, business and neighborhood groups that know the country, speak its languages, and are deeply committed to its rebirth.To read the entire article, click here.
“A public health disaster looms, and thousands more people are still in need of assistance,” said Daniel Wordsworth, American Refugee Committee President. “Many people still need shelter, and, with the incoming rains, there is a potential for many more deaths from diseases such as malaria, typhoid, and diarrheal diseases.”To read the entire press release, click here.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Trash and sewage are piling up at the squalid tent camps that hundreds of thousands have called home since Haiti's devastating earthquake — and with torrential rains expected any day, authorities are not even close to providing the shelters they promised.
USAID has provided 160,000 plastic sheets and 24,500 family size tents that will help 185,000 families out of the estimated 260,000 families in need of shelter assistance.
Jacqueline Charles reports for the The Miami Herald today on the politics of aid in Haiti. Charles notes that despite hundreds of thousands still without shelter, the "behind-the-scenes jockeying" by aid groups, NGOs and governments alike will only increase. Charles writes:
The battle includes aid groups known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and U.N. agencies that want to be the chief humanitarian agencies, countries that are lobbying for a seat at the decision table, and leaders from around the world who fly in frequently making promises that have yet to be met.
The move is a cause for concern as the ability of UNDP to monitor the disbursement of aid in Haiti has been severely compromised by the chaotic aftermath of the disaster.
Donations of food and water have proved a lifeline for more than 1.2 million people displaced by the quake, but Preval told a news conference on Monday the aid could in the long term hurt the economy of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
"I will tell him (Obama) that this first phase of assistance is finished," said Preval, standing in front of the ruined presidential palace in Port-au-Prince.
"If they continue to send us aid from abroad -- water and food -- it will be in competition with the national Haitian production and Haitian commerce," he said.
As the NGOs further scale-up, the already limited capacity of the state has been decimated. Essential as the NGOs have been, this imbalance threatens to leave the state marginalised in the core task of basic service provision.
Inside the many tent cities now home to hundreds of thousands of people, a rudimentary social order is beginning to emerge as committees agitate to secure food, water and supplies in high demand from international aid organizations.
A half-million homeless received tarps and tents; far more are still waiting under soggy bed sheets in camps that reek of human waste. More than 4.3 million people got emergency food rations; few will be able to feed themselves anytime soon. Medical aid went to thousands, but long-term care isn't even on the horizon.The AP reports on Haitian Prime Minister Bellerive's concerns that the relief effort has been bypassing the Haitian Government. Bellerive told the AP "Too many people are raising money without any controls, and don't explain what they're doing with it."
USAID paid at least $160 million of its total Haiti-related expenditures to the Defense Department, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, two local U.S. search and rescue teams and, in at least two instances, itself.Speaking on the same topic, IPS reports on a delegation of human rights experts that are preparing to travel to Haiti. The delegation has laid out a set of guidelines to make sure that donors not make the same mistakes that have plaqued Haiti for years. This includes an active effort to include Haitians in the relief and reconstruction process. Monika Kalra Varma, executive director of the RFK Center told IPS:
Tens of millions more went to U.S.-based aid groups. While much of that bought food and other necessities for Haitians, it often did so from U.S. companies—including highly subsidized rice growers whose products are undercutting local producers, driving them out of business.
One cent of every dollar has gone to the Haitian government.
"But rhetoric and goodwill go only so far. Forging a real partnership with the Haitian people will require a total change in the culture of delivering aid to Haiti. Yet if that kind of partnership is not achieved, we will have more of the failures we have seen for decades."The groups are stressing the importance of human rights in the relief effort, as well as transparency:
"Donor states should act with full transparency and accountability, making information about their plans and programmes available to all, and should work with the Haitian government to set up public monitoring and reporting mechanisms."IPS concludes:
Aid to Haiti has been marked by frequent interruptions, particularly in assistance from the U.S., for political and ideological reasons. Within Haiti, massive and continuing government and private corruption has siphoned off large chunks of funding and misdirected money to people who didn't need help.
Development experts say aid to Haiti has been aid to the light-skinned elites of Haiti.
But for a large percentage of Haitians, some two months after the earthquake, it must be said that this solidarity has not always been reflected in actual aid on the ground, mainly in terms of shelter and sanitation.Gadenne adds:
There are around 20 sites, the largest of which have received material assistance – tents, tarpaulins, toilet facilities, water, food, etc. – and basic medical assistance. The assistance given to these sites is incomplete, and there are dozens of other sites which still lack even the most elementary aid. Thousands of Haitians have still not seen any aid.