Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

On April 25th, Representative Barbara Lee of California introduced H.R. 1749, the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, which would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a detailed and comprehensive report on U.S. aid programs to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.  The bill, which has 24 original co-sponsors, reflects the growing concern in Congress about the lack of tangible progress in U.S. post-quake relief and reconstruction efforts, and the lack of transparency around how U.S. aid money is being used.

An earlier version of this bill was passed in the House of Representatives in May of 2011 and later was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but never made it to a vote on the Senate floor.  The legislation has been significantly revised and, whereas the old bill (which can be viewed here) had general reporting requirements, the new bill (which can be viewed here) has very specific and probing reporting language that should help shed light on how USAID funds are being used on the ground in Haiti.  Among other things, the legislation calls for:

·         An assessment of the “amounts obligated and expended on United States Government programs and activities since January 2010 (…) including award data [read: financial data] on the use of implementing partners at both prime and subprime levels, and disbursement data from prime and subprime implementing partners.”

·         A description of “goals and quantitative and qualitative indicators to evaluate the progress, or lack of achievement of such goals…”

·         An “assessment of the manner in which the Department of State and USAID are working with Haitian ministries and local authorities, including the extent to which the Government of Haiti has been consulted on the establishment of goals and timeframes and on the design and implementation of new programs…”

·         An “assessment of how consideration for vulnerable populations, including IDPs (Internally Displaced Populations), women, children, orphans, and persons with disabilities, have been incorporated in the design and implementation of new programs and infrastructure”

·         An “assessment of how agriculture and infrastructure programs are impacting food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Haiti”

Last month CEPR published a report titled “Breaking Open the Black Box” describing the lack of transparency of U.S. aid programs in Haiti, particularly at the contracting level, and recommended USAID reporting requirements similar to those found in H.R.1749.  The report noted that the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Haiti has been questioned by the GAO, the USAID Inspector General and other government watchdogs. 

At a mid-April congressional hearing on the U.S. Department of State FY 2014 budget, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about Haiti by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. In her question, Rep. Lee mentioned that she will be introducing legislation to promote U.S. aid transparency and accountability:

REP. LEE: And finally, just with regard to Haiti, you know, many of us are concerned about the lack of tangible results for vulnerable communities in Haiti after billions were pledged in the wake of the 2010 tragic earthquake. We’ve been calling for greater transparency and accountability, and of course I have legislation that I’m introducing once again to call on the State Department to really let us know how this money has been spent.

And so I wanted to know if there was any way administratively, because you know sometimes this legislative process can be very cumbersome — but if you can administratively figure out a way to let us know how the money is being spent. It’s my understanding that just over 50 percent of the funds made available for Haiti reconstruction through fiscal year 2012 have been dispersed — only 50 percent. And given the overwhelming needs of the country, why haven’t we moved faster or why haven’t they moved faster?

As Kerry was in fact a co-sponsor of the Assessing Progress in Haiti bill while a Senator, his position as Secretary of State could help bolster support for the forthcoming reintroduction of the bill.  Kerry’s response to Lee, however, was ambivalent and vague:

SEC. KERRY: Well, on Haiti — let me begin with Haiti. I think — as you know, the administration put a lot of effort into Haiti in the last four years — a lot of money, a lot of effort — the Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton himself, others — and Secretary Clinton put enormous focus on it. Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills personally was shepherding it, et cetera — still is helping us, actually. She’s doing that part time right now.

And you know, the great complication that I have observed — I’m not doing a general policy thing here — but I think is just capacity to absorb; governance combined with sort of sustainability issues that are very challenging there. And then — and also a lack of coordinated approach. I think more than anything, if I had to find a thing to say to you has been a challenge, it’s how to coordinate. It’s not lack of effort. It’s just very, very difficult.

So you asked the question. I think that’s been the hardest thing to achieve.

We’re going to stay at it. You know, it’s vital to us in lots of ways. I had — I represented — I had the privilege of representing a huge Haitian community up in Boston and I know after the earthquake we gathered that very night and we — you know, we talked about how we’d try to make this go-around different in terms of the aid and the focus and attention.

I probably need — you know, you’ve jogged my needs on this, and I probably need to get the team together and sort of take stock of exactly what our broader judgment is, comparing it with all the agencies involved and maybe get back to you even further. But that’s my quick take on it.

Kerry might be pleased to know that his concern about “a lack of coordinated approach” in Haiti is addressed in Lee’s bill.  The legislation’s seventh reporting requirement calls for “an assessment of recovery and development coordination among United States Government agencies and between the United States Government and other donors.”

On April 25th, Representative Barbara Lee of California introduced H.R. 1749, the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act, which would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a detailed and comprehensive report on U.S. aid programs to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.  The bill, which has 24 original co-sponsors, reflects the growing concern in Congress about the lack of tangible progress in U.S. post-quake relief and reconstruction efforts, and the lack of transparency around how U.S. aid money is being used.

An earlier version of this bill was passed in the House of Representatives in May of 2011 and later was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but never made it to a vote on the Senate floor.  The legislation has been significantly revised and, whereas the old bill (which can be viewed here) had general reporting requirements, the new bill (which can be viewed here) has very specific and probing reporting language that should help shed light on how USAID funds are being used on the ground in Haiti.  Among other things, the legislation calls for:

·         An assessment of the “amounts obligated and expended on United States Government programs and activities since January 2010 (…) including award data [read: financial data] on the use of implementing partners at both prime and subprime levels, and disbursement data from prime and subprime implementing partners.”

·         A description of “goals and quantitative and qualitative indicators to evaluate the progress, or lack of achievement of such goals…”

·         An “assessment of the manner in which the Department of State and USAID are working with Haitian ministries and local authorities, including the extent to which the Government of Haiti has been consulted on the establishment of goals and timeframes and on the design and implementation of new programs…”

·         An “assessment of how consideration for vulnerable populations, including IDPs (Internally Displaced Populations), women, children, orphans, and persons with disabilities, have been incorporated in the design and implementation of new programs and infrastructure”

·         An “assessment of how agriculture and infrastructure programs are impacting food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Haiti”

Last month CEPR published a report titled “Breaking Open the Black Box” describing the lack of transparency of U.S. aid programs in Haiti, particularly at the contracting level, and recommended USAID reporting requirements similar to those found in H.R.1749.  The report noted that the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Haiti has been questioned by the GAO, the USAID Inspector General and other government watchdogs. 

At a mid-April congressional hearing on the U.S. Department of State FY 2014 budget, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about Haiti by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. In her question, Rep. Lee mentioned that she will be introducing legislation to promote U.S. aid transparency and accountability:

REP. LEE: And finally, just with regard to Haiti, you know, many of us are concerned about the lack of tangible results for vulnerable communities in Haiti after billions were pledged in the wake of the 2010 tragic earthquake. We’ve been calling for greater transparency and accountability, and of course I have legislation that I’m introducing once again to call on the State Department to really let us know how this money has been spent.

And so I wanted to know if there was any way administratively, because you know sometimes this legislative process can be very cumbersome — but if you can administratively figure out a way to let us know how the money is being spent. It’s my understanding that just over 50 percent of the funds made available for Haiti reconstruction through fiscal year 2012 have been dispersed — only 50 percent. And given the overwhelming needs of the country, why haven’t we moved faster or why haven’t they moved faster?

As Kerry was in fact a co-sponsor of the Assessing Progress in Haiti bill while a Senator, his position as Secretary of State could help bolster support for the forthcoming reintroduction of the bill.  Kerry’s response to Lee, however, was ambivalent and vague:

SEC. KERRY: Well, on Haiti — let me begin with Haiti. I think — as you know, the administration put a lot of effort into Haiti in the last four years — a lot of money, a lot of effort — the Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton himself, others — and Secretary Clinton put enormous focus on it. Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills personally was shepherding it, et cetera — still is helping us, actually. She’s doing that part time right now.

And you know, the great complication that I have observed — I’m not doing a general policy thing here — but I think is just capacity to absorb; governance combined with sort of sustainability issues that are very challenging there. And then — and also a lack of coordinated approach. I think more than anything, if I had to find a thing to say to you has been a challenge, it’s how to coordinate. It’s not lack of effort. It’s just very, very difficult.

So you asked the question. I think that’s been the hardest thing to achieve.

We’re going to stay at it. You know, it’s vital to us in lots of ways. I had — I represented — I had the privilege of representing a huge Haitian community up in Boston and I know after the earthquake we gathered that very night and we — you know, we talked about how we’d try to make this go-around different in terms of the aid and the focus and attention.

I probably need — you know, you’ve jogged my needs on this, and I probably need to get the team together and sort of take stock of exactly what our broader judgment is, comparing it with all the agencies involved and maybe get back to you even further. But that’s my quick take on it.

Kerry might be pleased to know that his concern about “a lack of coordinated approach” in Haiti is addressed in Lee’s bill.  The legislation’s seventh reporting requirement calls for “an assessment of recovery and development coordination among United States Government agencies and between the United States Government and other donors.”

Over the last decade the fight for accountability in Latin America for crimes committed by past dictatorships has seen a tremendous number of successes. In Peru, Alberto Fujimori is in jail. In Argentina dozens of defendants have been convicted in just the last year. But two ongoing cases continue to drag on, Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti. Both Ríos Montt and Duvalier enjoyed support of all kinds from the U.S. government, but the U.S.’s response to the cases illustrates the ongoing hypocrisy of the U.S. in the region.

In Guatemala, as numerous media outlets have described it, Ríos Montt is “the first former head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide in a national court.” While the case was recently suspended, after a week of legal maneuvers, it appears that it may be set to resume this week.  After the trial was suspended on April 18, investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported that “Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala’s president, General Otto Pérez Molina.” Nairn, who investigated atrocities in Guatemala in the ‘80s – including Pérez Molina’s involvement in them — was supposed to testify at the trial.

But less than a week later, the U.S. sent Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp to Guatemala to “meet with U.S. Government and Embassy officials, local victims groups, and other international officials.” Last Friday, as the trial continued to be suspended, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson  Patrick Ventrell stated:

So we urge the Government of Guatemala to ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Guatemala’s domestic and international legal obligations, and we expect the process and outcome will advance the rule of law.

The statement from the State Department came the same day that Rapp concluded his trip to Guatemala. Over the weekend, president Pérez Molina also seemed to partially walk back his previous statements criticizing the trial, calling the trial “historic” and pledging to not personally intervene.

In Haiti, on the other hand, the U.S. has been entirely absent.

The case against Duvalier is currently making its way, slowly, through an appeals court after an investigative judge had ruled he could not be tried for crimes against humanity. As is the case with Guatemala, the former dictator on trial appears to enjoy the support of the central government. As Amnesty International wrote last week:

The Public Prosecutor, instead of fulfilling her role of defending the public interest, has aligned with the defence and does not miss any opportunity to dismiss the complainants’ arguments.

The current administration, several members of which reportedly held positions of power in Jean-Claude Duvalier’s government, has shown no interest in bringing Duvalier to justice. On the contrary, it has granted him a diplomatic passport.

Last week was supposed to be the ninth hearing in the case, yet it was cancelled “as one of the judges needed to attend a funeral.” Amnesty points out that “Only five of the 20-plus complainants have been heard” and that Duvalier “has been evading the courts for some time,” having not appeared since February.

Yet, in contrast to Guatemala, the U.S. is silent. In March, Fran Quigley argued that the U.S. held the keys to the Duvalier trial, and noticed that Rapp, and other U.S. human rights officials (some with specific backgrounds in Haiti) were “sitting this one out.”

Instead, as Quigley wrote from the courtroom in late February, “the U.S. is represented today by just one embassy official, who does not participate in the hearing and does not want to speak for the record.” Rather than calling on the Haitian government to “ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Haiti’s domestic and international legal obligations,” as they did for the Ríos Montt trial, the U.S. government has repeatedly stated that with regards to the Duvalier case “a decision about what is to be done is left to the government and people of Haiti.”

Update 5/01: A previous version of this post referred to an article from March by Bill Quigley, it was actually written by Fran Quigley.

Over the last decade the fight for accountability in Latin America for crimes committed by past dictatorships has seen a tremendous number of successes. In Peru, Alberto Fujimori is in jail. In Argentina dozens of defendants have been convicted in just the last year. But two ongoing cases continue to drag on, Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala and Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti. Both Ríos Montt and Duvalier enjoyed support of all kinds from the U.S. government, but the U.S.’s response to the cases illustrates the ongoing hypocrisy of the U.S. in the region.

In Guatemala, as numerous media outlets have described it, Ríos Montt is “the first former head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide in a national court.” While the case was recently suspended, after a week of legal maneuvers, it appears that it may be set to resume this week.  After the trial was suspended on April 18, investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported that “Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala’s president, General Otto Pérez Molina.” Nairn, who investigated atrocities in Guatemala in the ‘80s – including Pérez Molina’s involvement in them — was supposed to testify at the trial.

But less than a week later, the U.S. sent Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp to Guatemala to “meet with U.S. Government and Embassy officials, local victims groups, and other international officials.” Last Friday, as the trial continued to be suspended, State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson  Patrick Ventrell stated:

So we urge the Government of Guatemala to ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Guatemala’s domestic and international legal obligations, and we expect the process and outcome will advance the rule of law.

The statement from the State Department came the same day that Rapp concluded his trip to Guatemala. Over the weekend, president Pérez Molina also seemed to partially walk back his previous statements criticizing the trial, calling the trial “historic” and pledging to not personally intervene.

In Haiti, on the other hand, the U.S. has been entirely absent.

The case against Duvalier is currently making its way, slowly, through an appeals court after an investigative judge had ruled he could not be tried for crimes against humanity. As is the case with Guatemala, the former dictator on trial appears to enjoy the support of the central government. As Amnesty International wrote last week:

The Public Prosecutor, instead of fulfilling her role of defending the public interest, has aligned with the defence and does not miss any opportunity to dismiss the complainants’ arguments.

The current administration, several members of which reportedly held positions of power in Jean-Claude Duvalier’s government, has shown no interest in bringing Duvalier to justice. On the contrary, it has granted him a diplomatic passport.

Last week was supposed to be the ninth hearing in the case, yet it was cancelled “as one of the judges needed to attend a funeral.” Amnesty points out that “Only five of the 20-plus complainants have been heard” and that Duvalier “has been evading the courts for some time,” having not appeared since February.

Yet, in contrast to Guatemala, the U.S. is silent. In March, Fran Quigley argued that the U.S. held the keys to the Duvalier trial, and noticed that Rapp, and other U.S. human rights officials (some with specific backgrounds in Haiti) were “sitting this one out.”

Instead, as Quigley wrote from the courtroom in late February, “the U.S. is represented today by just one embassy official, who does not participate in the hearing and does not want to speak for the record.” Rather than calling on the Haitian government to “ensure that this legal case is conducted in accordance with Haiti’s domestic and international legal obligations,” as they did for the Ríos Montt trial, the U.S. government has repeatedly stated that with regards to the Duvalier case “a decision about what is to be done is left to the government and people of Haiti.”

Update 5/01: A previous version of this post referred to an article from March by Bill Quigley, it was actually written by Fran Quigley.

In February, the United Nations confirmed that a Canadian serving with the United Nations Police contingent of MINUSTAH had been accused of sexually and physically assaulting a Haitian woman. Yesterday, Marie Rosy Kesner Auguste Ducena, a lawyer with the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network, told CBC news that, though the victim reported the assault to police, “nothing will happen… Women who will go to complain, you will see that maybe somebody will take the complaint and will say to her you will be called after. But in fact, the case will just be closed.” CBC notes that the “day after the incident, the man boarded a flight back to Canada, where he remains.”

This is but the latest in a series of sexual abuse allegations leveled against MINUSTAH personnel in Haiti. According to U.N. data, since 2007 there have been 70 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against MINUSTAH members, but as CBC news points out, “not one has ended up in a Haitian court.”

The lack of accountability of U.N. military and police personnel in Haiti has “undermined” the organizations reputation and its ability to carry out its mandate, according to Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group (ICG). “The UN should ensure that in the agreement with the troop-contributing countries, that there is an understanding of what will happen if an abuse occurs — that there will be a full investigation, and that there will be appropriate action taken,” Schneider added.

According to the CBC, the current case is complicated by the fact that the Canadian was serving as a UN Police agent. The CBC reports:

Soldiers can be tried in a military court, but under UN rules, civilian staff — including police officers — are immune from criminal prosecution in the country where the alleged offence occurred. Once back in Canada, they cannot be charged for a crime committed abroad.

Since 2007, the majority of sexual abuse allegations have involved civilian (including police) staff, while 40 percent of allegations involved military personnel. While police are granted immunity from local courts, military personnel are also afforded a layer of protection. In fact, the UN has little control over investigating and punishing military personnel accused of wrongdoing. According to an ICG interview with a senior official in the Conduct and Discipline Unit of MINUSTAH, “The UN reviews cases and urges countries to provide faster follow-up but does not investigate to determine if discipline or punishment is needed.” The U.N.’s lack of ability to investigate or hold accountable those accused of wrongdoing flies in the face of the organization’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.

Looking further at the data, MINUSTAH’s track record looks even worse. Since 2008, 31 percent of the allegations involved minors, while another 30 percent involved individuals of an “unidentified” age. Also, while allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation across all U.N. missions has decreased over the last 6 years, the number of allegations involving MINUSTAH increased each year from 2009-2011, and there have been 5 such allegations already in 2013, which puts the mission on pace for more than ever before. Despite accounting for 10 percent of U.N. “peacekeeping” staff worldwide, MINUSTAH accounted for over 20 percent of the allegations of sexual abuse in 2011 and nearly 40 percent so far in 2013.

In February, the United Nations confirmed that a Canadian serving with the United Nations Police contingent of MINUSTAH had been accused of sexually and physically assaulting a Haitian woman. Yesterday, Marie Rosy Kesner Auguste Ducena, a lawyer with the Haitian National Human Rights Defense Network, told CBC news that, though the victim reported the assault to police, “nothing will happen… Women who will go to complain, you will see that maybe somebody will take the complaint and will say to her you will be called after. But in fact, the case will just be closed.” CBC notes that the “day after the incident, the man boarded a flight back to Canada, where he remains.”

This is but the latest in a series of sexual abuse allegations leveled against MINUSTAH personnel in Haiti. According to U.N. data, since 2007 there have been 70 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation against MINUSTAH members, but as CBC news points out, “not one has ended up in a Haitian court.”

The lack of accountability of U.N. military and police personnel in Haiti has “undermined” the organizations reputation and its ability to carry out its mandate, according to Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group (ICG). “The UN should ensure that in the agreement with the troop-contributing countries, that there is an understanding of what will happen if an abuse occurs — that there will be a full investigation, and that there will be appropriate action taken,” Schneider added.

According to the CBC, the current case is complicated by the fact that the Canadian was serving as a UN Police agent. The CBC reports:

Soldiers can be tried in a military court, but under UN rules, civilian staff — including police officers — are immune from criminal prosecution in the country where the alleged offence occurred. Once back in Canada, they cannot be charged for a crime committed abroad.

Since 2007, the majority of sexual abuse allegations have involved civilian (including police) staff, while 40 percent of allegations involved military personnel. While police are granted immunity from local courts, military personnel are also afforded a layer of protection. In fact, the UN has little control over investigating and punishing military personnel accused of wrongdoing. According to an ICG interview with a senior official in the Conduct and Discipline Unit of MINUSTAH, “The UN reviews cases and urges countries to provide faster follow-up but does not investigate to determine if discipline or punishment is needed.” The U.N.’s lack of ability to investigate or hold accountable those accused of wrongdoing flies in the face of the organization’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.

Looking further at the data, MINUSTAH’s track record looks even worse. Since 2008, 31 percent of the allegations involved minors, while another 30 percent involved individuals of an “unidentified” age. Also, while allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation across all U.N. missions has decreased over the last 6 years, the number of allegations involving MINUSTAH increased each year from 2009-2011, and there have been 5 such allegations already in 2013, which puts the mission on pace for more than ever before. Despite accounting for 10 percent of U.N. “peacekeeping” staff worldwide, MINUSTAH accounted for over 20 percent of the allegations of sexual abuse in 2011 and nearly 40 percent so far in 2013.

The IOM reported this week that over the last three months, some 27,000 people have left IDP camps, bringing the total amount remaining to around 320,000. The IOM credits the vast majority of this reduction, some 74 percent, on relocation programs – most often a one-year rental subsidy. The report’s “highlights” section says that “Evictions accounted for a 6% decrease in IDP household population.”  Yet the data in the report directly contradicts this. Of a reported reduction of 6,401 households, the IOM says 977 were forced to leave due to evictions, representing over 15 percent of the total reduction.

But even this is most likely an underestimate. Over previous months, there has been “a dramatic new wave of forced evictions,” according to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). One camp which has been under the threat of eviction, and from which some families have already been evicted, is Camp Gaston Margon. On March 22, Amnesty International released a statement, warning that:

Approximately 650 families living in Gaston Margon displacement camp in the Port-au-Prince municipality of Carrefour are currently under the threat of forced eviction. Already, on 15 February, 150 families were forcibly evicted from the camp by police officers and a group of men carrying machetes and knives who were accompanied by a local justice of the peace. The armed men began destroying the families’ shelters, while some people were still inside, and attacked individuals that attempted to stop them. The police also shot their firearms into the air to intimidate the families. One infant was reported to have suffered injuries when armed men and police damaged a shelter with the child still inside. The men reportedly threatened to burn down the entire camp and to kill the children of families who did not move.

During the previous IOM reporting period, Camp Margon had a population of 3,376. During the most recent reporting period, the population had decreased to 2,327. Given the reports of threats of eviction, and at least a partial eviction, it is clear that this reduction is not simply a case of “spontaneous return,” as the IOM report implicitly states.

In videos posted earlier this week by Let Haiti Live, residents of Camp Gaston Margon talk about the threats:

We have been living in this camp for three years and two months since the earthquake. We have faced a lot of threats from the landowner because we are on private land. One time they came to destroy the camp and they ripped our tents, we rebuilt the tents again. I used to live in a first part of the camp and when they forced us to leave I came here. The landowner wants the land to build his business.

We stay here because we have nowhere to go. When it rains we have a lot of problems and in the night it’s as though we live under streetlights because our tarps are no good. If the government relocates us from the camps it would be a miracle.

As the IOM’s own report notes, of those remaining in the camps, some 27 percent are facing the threat of eviction. This compares to 18 percent who stand to benefit from planned return programs. In the meantime, IDPs continue to be targeted with violent threats of eviction. Amnesty International, which will be releasing a report on the issue of evictions next week, issued a statement on Wednesday urging an investigation into “[a]llegations that a man died after being beaten by the police as he took part in a protest against an arson attack on a camp for displaced people in Haiti’s capital.” Amnesty notes that the “attack occurred less than 48 hours after the alleged owner of a portion of the land where the camp is located told the residents that he would “use all possible means to evict them.””

Javier Zúñiga, a special adviser for Amnesty International, said, “Unfortunately this incident is emblematic of the situation of powerlessness in which thousands of people still living in displacement camps find themselves.” Adding, “This terrible event is proof of the consequences of continuing forced evictions in Haiti.”

 

The IOM reported this week that over the last three months, some 27,000 people have left IDP camps, bringing the total amount remaining to around 320,000. The IOM credits the vast majority of this reduction, some 74 percent, on relocation programs – most often a one-year rental subsidy. The report’s “highlights” section says that “Evictions accounted for a 6% decrease in IDP household population.”  Yet the data in the report directly contradicts this. Of a reported reduction of 6,401 households, the IOM says 977 were forced to leave due to evictions, representing over 15 percent of the total reduction.

But even this is most likely an underestimate. Over previous months, there has been “a dramatic new wave of forced evictions,” according to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). One camp which has been under the threat of eviction, and from which some families have already been evicted, is Camp Gaston Margon. On March 22, Amnesty International released a statement, warning that:

Approximately 650 families living in Gaston Margon displacement camp in the Port-au-Prince municipality of Carrefour are currently under the threat of forced eviction. Already, on 15 February, 150 families were forcibly evicted from the camp by police officers and a group of men carrying machetes and knives who were accompanied by a local justice of the peace. The armed men began destroying the families’ shelters, while some people were still inside, and attacked individuals that attempted to stop them. The police also shot their firearms into the air to intimidate the families. One infant was reported to have suffered injuries when armed men and police damaged a shelter with the child still inside. The men reportedly threatened to burn down the entire camp and to kill the children of families who did not move.

During the previous IOM reporting period, Camp Margon had a population of 3,376. During the most recent reporting period, the population had decreased to 2,327. Given the reports of threats of eviction, and at least a partial eviction, it is clear that this reduction is not simply a case of “spontaneous return,” as the IOM report implicitly states.

In videos posted earlier this week by Let Haiti Live, residents of Camp Gaston Margon talk about the threats:

We have been living in this camp for three years and two months since the earthquake. We have faced a lot of threats from the landowner because we are on private land. One time they came to destroy the camp and they ripped our tents, we rebuilt the tents again. I used to live in a first part of the camp and when they forced us to leave I came here. The landowner wants the land to build his business.

We stay here because we have nowhere to go. When it rains we have a lot of problems and in the night it’s as though we live under streetlights because our tarps are no good. If the government relocates us from the camps it would be a miracle.

As the IOM’s own report notes, of those remaining in the camps, some 27 percent are facing the threat of eviction. This compares to 18 percent who stand to benefit from planned return programs. In the meantime, IDPs continue to be targeted with violent threats of eviction. Amnesty International, which will be releasing a report on the issue of evictions next week, issued a statement on Wednesday urging an investigation into “[a]llegations that a man died after being beaten by the police as he took part in a protest against an arson attack on a camp for displaced people in Haiti’s capital.” Amnesty notes that the “attack occurred less than 48 hours after the alleged owner of a portion of the land where the camp is located told the residents that he would “use all possible means to evict them.””

Javier Zúñiga, a special adviser for Amnesty International, said, “Unfortunately this incident is emblematic of the situation of powerlessness in which thousands of people still living in displacement camps find themselves.” Adding, “This terrible event is proof of the consequences of continuing forced evictions in Haiti.”

 

In a press release yesterday, DynCorp International announced that the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) had awarded the company with a $48.6 million contract. The purpose of the contract is to “recruit and support up to 100 UNPOL and 10 U.N. Corrections Advisors. DI will also provide logistics support to the Haitian National Police (HNP) Academy and each academy class. In addition, DI will supply five high-level French and Haitian Creole speaking subject matter experts to advise senior HNP officials.”

While the press release went out yesterday, the contract was actually awarded to DynCorp a year ago, and the first funding through the award was given to DynCorp in November 2012 in the amount of $12.9 million. DynCorp is one of the largest government contractors, receiving well over $3 billion in 2012.

As the company points out, its previous work in Haiti began in 2008 and involved the training of over 400 police officers. That work, part of the Haiti Stabilization Initiative, also entailed increasing the size of the U.N. military base in Cite Soleil. DynCorp, which continues to receive funds through that task order, has received over $23 million since 2008 for its work in Haiti.

One of the primary tasks of the U.N. military mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is to recruit and train members for the Haitian National Police, so that they could eventually take over for the foreign troops. With this latest contract, DynCorp has gone from training police to take over for MINUSTAH, to simply supplying troops directly to MINUSTAH.

But the awarding of the contract to DynCorp is also problematic given the company’s terrible track record in the same exact program areas where they will now operate in Haiti. 

In Bosnia in the late ‘90s, DynCorp was contracted by the State Department to provide “peacekeepers” for the U.N. police there, just as in Haiti now. One employee, Kathryn Bolkovac, was eventually fired after blowing the whistle to her superiors at DynCorp on the participation of her colleagues in sex trafficking, among other abuses. The case was the basis for the 2011 Hollywood movie, The Whistleblower.

Unfortunately, these types of abuses have been all too common in Haiti since the arrival of U.N. troops in 2004. And similar to the situation in Bosnia, there have been only sporadic and piecemeal efforts to hold those responsible, accountable.

Additionally, DynCorp has a history of waste, fraud and abuse, including under U.S. government contracts to provide police training in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar to their program in Haiti. In 2010, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a report which found that the State Department and DynCorp could not account for $1 billion dollars spent training the Iraq police. At the time, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said “[INL has]been managing this contract in Iraq since 2004 and, according to this report, they have no idea where any of the money went… What’s even worse is that these are the same people responsible for police training in Afghanistan, so I don’t have any confidence that they’re doing a better job there.”

Sure enough, in 2011 DynCorp was slammed by a joint audit from the State Department and Department of Defense over their work training the Afghan police.  It wasn’t the first time. Also In 2011, according to the Project on Government Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, DynCorp paid $7.7 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit after a whistleblower alleged that the company had inflated claims under a “contract with the State Department to provide civilian police training in Iraq.”

In a press release yesterday, DynCorp International announced that the U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) had awarded the company with a $48.6 million contract. The purpose of the contract is to “recruit and support up to 100 UNPOL and 10 U.N. Corrections Advisors. DI will also provide logistics support to the Haitian National Police (HNP) Academy and each academy class. In addition, DI will supply five high-level French and Haitian Creole speaking subject matter experts to advise senior HNP officials.”

While the press release went out yesterday, the contract was actually awarded to DynCorp a year ago, and the first funding through the award was given to DynCorp in November 2012 in the amount of $12.9 million. DynCorp is one of the largest government contractors, receiving well over $3 billion in 2012.

As the company points out, its previous work in Haiti began in 2008 and involved the training of over 400 police officers. That work, part of the Haiti Stabilization Initiative, also entailed increasing the size of the U.N. military base in Cite Soleil. DynCorp, which continues to receive funds through that task order, has received over $23 million since 2008 for its work in Haiti.

One of the primary tasks of the U.N. military mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is to recruit and train members for the Haitian National Police, so that they could eventually take over for the foreign troops. With this latest contract, DynCorp has gone from training police to take over for MINUSTAH, to simply supplying troops directly to MINUSTAH.

But the awarding of the contract to DynCorp is also problematic given the company’s terrible track record in the same exact program areas where they will now operate in Haiti. 

In Bosnia in the late ‘90s, DynCorp was contracted by the State Department to provide “peacekeepers” for the U.N. police there, just as in Haiti now. One employee, Kathryn Bolkovac, was eventually fired after blowing the whistle to her superiors at DynCorp on the participation of her colleagues in sex trafficking, among other abuses. The case was the basis for the 2011 Hollywood movie, The Whistleblower.

Unfortunately, these types of abuses have been all too common in Haiti since the arrival of U.N. troops in 2004. And similar to the situation in Bosnia, there have been only sporadic and piecemeal efforts to hold those responsible, accountable.

Additionally, DynCorp has a history of waste, fraud and abuse, including under U.S. government contracts to provide police training in Afghanistan and Iraq, similar to their program in Haiti. In 2010, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction issued a report which found that the State Department and DynCorp could not account for $1 billion dollars spent training the Iraq police. At the time, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said “[INL has]been managing this contract in Iraq since 2004 and, according to this report, they have no idea where any of the money went… What’s even worse is that these are the same people responsible for police training in Afghanistan, so I don’t have any confidence that they’re doing a better job there.”

Sure enough, in 2011 DynCorp was slammed by a joint audit from the State Department and Department of Defense over their work training the Afghan police.  It wasn’t the first time. Also In 2011, according to the Project on Government Oversight’s Contractor Misconduct Database, DynCorp paid $7.7 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit after a whistleblower alleged that the company had inflated claims under a “contract with the State Department to provide civilian police training in Iraq.”

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Obama administration plans to change the way U.S. food assistance to other countries is conducted. The reforms, according to the Times’ Ron Nixon, would notably focus on local procurement of food rather than shipping U.S.-grown crops overseas. This is something we and other groups have proposed be done to both assist Haitian farmers and food insecure people in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Despite some interest from some congressional offices, the proposal never went anywhere.

Nixon notes that current U.S. food aid practices are unique: “The United States spends about $1.4 billion a year on food aid and is the only major donor country that continues to send food to humanitarian crisis spots, rather than buying food produced locally.” A recent op-ed by the Center for Global Development’s Charles Kenny in Bloomberg Businessweek noted additionally that “The U.S. food aid program… spends roughly an additional $1 billion transporting the crops overseas, in most cases using U.S.-flagged ships.”

U.S. food aid to Haiti is emblematic of the program as a whole. As we have previously noted, in roughly the first year after the 2010 earthquake, USAID signed nine contracts with three shipping companies to send 73,000 metric tons of rice and other commodities in Title II emergency food aid to Haiti, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of over $18 million dollars.

The Associated Press’ Mary Clare Jalonick reports on other controversial aspects of the U.S. food aid regime:

Particularly controversial is the process of what is called “monetization,” or selling the food once it arrives overseas to finance development projects. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office found monetization cost the U.S. an extra $219 million over a three years, money that could have been used for other development projects.

Aid groups are split on the point, since some finance their activities through monetization. But major aid groups like Oxfam and CARE say the process can destroy local agriculture by dumping cheap crops on the market at a price too low for local farmers to compete.

Nixon noted that “A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, also concluded that the system of supplying food to charities to sell for cash was “inherently inefficient.” The G.A.O found that nearly $300 million was lost because of inefficiencies in the program.”

The Obama administration’s proposed changes, however, could greatly increase the number of people helped by U.S. food assistance overseas, while also supporting local farmers in recipient countries. Jalonick reports that “Gawain Kripke of Oxfam says his group estimates that by spending the same amount of money [as the U.S. currently spends on food aid], the United States could provide assistance for 17 million more poor people by changing the way the aid is distributed.”

Food insecurity in Haiti is currently a significant and growing concern. The U.N. reported this week that “that more than more than 1.5 million of Haiti’s people are at risk of malnutrition because of crops lost in [Hurricane Sandy,” AP noted. This means that “At least one in five households faces a serious food deficit and acute malnutrition despite efforts to reduce hunger.”

But as with past efforts to reform U.S. food assistance, the proposed changes are strongly opposed by vested interests. Nixon writes:

In a letter to members of Congress and the Obama administration, more than 60 organizations like the USA Rice Federation and the American Maritime Congress defended the way the program is currently run and called on lawmakers and the Obama administration to resist changing it.

“Growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping and transportation of nutritious U.S. food creates jobs and economic activity here at home, provides support for our U.S. Merchant Marine, essential to our national defense sealift capability, and sustains a robust domestic constituency for these programs not easily replicated in foreign aid programs,” the groups wrote. [That full letter is available here.]

AP describes the opposition to food aid reform within the U.S. Senate:

Worried that an overhaul of the Food for Peace program could come in Obama’s budget, a bipartisan group of 21 senators wrote a letter to the president in February asking him not to make changes.

“American agriculture is one of the few U.S. business sectors to produce a trade surplus, exporting $108 billion in farm goods in 2010,” the senators wrote. “During this time of economic distress, we should maintain support for the areas of our economy that are growing.”

The letter was signed by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the Democratic chairman of the Senate subcommittee that controls agriculture spending. The top Republicans on both of those panels signed the letter as well, as did Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. [The full letter is available here.]

Some farmers’ organizations were candid about other goals currently served by traditional U.S. food aid practices. As Jalonick reported:

Farm groups say the program is also a public relations tool for the United States.

“Bags of U.S.-grown food bearing the U.S. flag and stamped as “From the American People” serve as ambassadors of our nation’s goodwill, which can help to address the root causes of instability,” several farm and shipping groups wrote in a February letter to Obama.

“These are the kinds of things you don’t want to make dramatic quick changes to,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, one of the groups that signed the letter.

But it is questionable what sort of positive PR is achieved when Haitian farmers lose their livelihoods because they are undermined by cheap imported rice “bearing the U.S. flag.”

Considering that 1.5 million people in Haiti are at risk of malnutrition, according to the U.N., the U.S. Senators, farmers’ organizations and agribusinesses that oppose food aid reform may want to reconsider their priorities. Should the U.S. help to end hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in Haiti and other countries, or will it continue to put the interests of big agribusinesses, food producers and shipping contractors first?

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Obama administration plans to change the way U.S. food assistance to other countries is conducted. The reforms, according to the Times’ Ron Nixon, would notably focus on local procurement of food rather than shipping U.S.-grown crops overseas. This is something we and other groups have proposed be done to both assist Haitian farmers and food insecure people in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Despite some interest from some congressional offices, the proposal never went anywhere.

Nixon notes that current U.S. food aid practices are unique: “The United States spends about $1.4 billion a year on food aid and is the only major donor country that continues to send food to humanitarian crisis spots, rather than buying food produced locally.” A recent op-ed by the Center for Global Development’s Charles Kenny in Bloomberg Businessweek noted additionally that “The U.S. food aid program… spends roughly an additional $1 billion transporting the crops overseas, in most cases using U.S.-flagged ships.”

U.S. food aid to Haiti is emblematic of the program as a whole. As we have previously noted, in roughly the first year after the 2010 earthquake, USAID signed nine contracts with three shipping companies to send 73,000 metric tons of rice and other commodities in Title II emergency food aid to Haiti, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of over $18 million dollars.

The Associated Press’ Mary Clare Jalonick reports on other controversial aspects of the U.S. food aid regime:

Particularly controversial is the process of what is called “monetization,” or selling the food once it arrives overseas to finance development projects. A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office found monetization cost the U.S. an extra $219 million over a three years, money that could have been used for other development projects.

Aid groups are split on the point, since some finance their activities through monetization. But major aid groups like Oxfam and CARE say the process can destroy local agriculture by dumping cheap crops on the market at a price too low for local farmers to compete.

Nixon noted that “A 2011 report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s investigative arm, also concluded that the system of supplying food to charities to sell for cash was “inherently inefficient.” The G.A.O found that nearly $300 million was lost because of inefficiencies in the program.”

The Obama administration’s proposed changes, however, could greatly increase the number of people helped by U.S. food assistance overseas, while also supporting local farmers in recipient countries. Jalonick reports that “Gawain Kripke of Oxfam says his group estimates that by spending the same amount of money [as the U.S. currently spends on food aid], the United States could provide assistance for 17 million more poor people by changing the way the aid is distributed.”

Food insecurity in Haiti is currently a significant and growing concern. The U.N. reported this week that “that more than more than 1.5 million of Haiti’s people are at risk of malnutrition because of crops lost in [Hurricane Sandy,” AP noted. This means that “At least one in five households faces a serious food deficit and acute malnutrition despite efforts to reduce hunger.”

But as with past efforts to reform U.S. food assistance, the proposed changes are strongly opposed by vested interests. Nixon writes:

In a letter to members of Congress and the Obama administration, more than 60 organizations like the USA Rice Federation and the American Maritime Congress defended the way the program is currently run and called on lawmakers and the Obama administration to resist changing it.

“Growing, manufacturing, bagging, shipping and transportation of nutritious U.S. food creates jobs and economic activity here at home, provides support for our U.S. Merchant Marine, essential to our national defense sealift capability, and sustains a robust domestic constituency for these programs not easily replicated in foreign aid programs,” the groups wrote. [That full letter is available here.]

AP describes the opposition to food aid reform within the U.S. Senate:

Worried that an overhaul of the Food for Peace program could come in Obama’s budget, a bipartisan group of 21 senators wrote a letter to the president in February asking him not to make changes.

“American agriculture is one of the few U.S. business sectors to produce a trade surplus, exporting $108 billion in farm goods in 2010,” the senators wrote. “During this time of economic distress, we should maintain support for the areas of our economy that are growing.”

The letter was signed by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, the Democratic chairman of the Senate subcommittee that controls agriculture spending. The top Republicans on both of those panels signed the letter as well, as did Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland. [The full letter is available here.]

Some farmers’ organizations were candid about other goals currently served by traditional U.S. food aid practices. As Jalonick reported:

Farm groups say the program is also a public relations tool for the United States.

“Bags of U.S.-grown food bearing the U.S. flag and stamped as “From the American People” serve as ambassadors of our nation’s goodwill, which can help to address the root causes of instability,” several farm and shipping groups wrote in a February letter to Obama.

“These are the kinds of things you don’t want to make dramatic quick changes to,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, one of the groups that signed the letter.

But it is questionable what sort of positive PR is achieved when Haitian farmers lose their livelihoods because they are undermined by cheap imported rice “bearing the U.S. flag.”

Considering that 1.5 million people in Haiti are at risk of malnutrition, according to the U.N., the U.S. Senators, farmers’ organizations and agribusinesses that oppose food aid reform may want to reconsider their priorities. Should the U.S. help to end hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity in Haiti and other countries, or will it continue to put the interests of big agribusinesses, food producers and shipping contractors first?

Today, CEPR released a new report authored by Jake Johnston and Alex Main on USAID in Haiti. The paper looks at the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, what we know about how it is being administered, to what extent it is adhering to the USAID Forward reform agenda and what steps can be taken to ensure more effective and transparent delivery of aid to Haiti. While one can see who the primary awardees are, the lack of more detailed data creates the impression that U.S. foreign assistance goes into a “black box” where it becomes nearly impossible to tell what happens afterwards.

The report notes that the few audits and evaluations of USAID’s programs in Haiti since the earthquake present a “troubling picture of the manner in which U.S. relief and reconstruction efforts have been conducted so far.” Contractors have hired far fewer Haitians than promised, Haitian businesses were largely excluded, goals were not met, there was inadequate supervision of grantees, and USAID had not conducted internal financial reviews of contractors.

The paper makes several recommendations for how to improve transparency and accountability around the $1 billion in outstanding obligated U.S. aid funds for Haiti, as well as around any additional aid funding in the future. These include making data available on subcontractors; ensuring awardee compliance with federal regulations and contract requirements; reducing reliance on large, multi-year contracts that favor traditional partners while increasing direct contracting to Haitian entities; strengthening USAID’s capacity to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation of assistance programs; making all evaluations publically available; ensuring the involvement of local populations; and making all available information on assistance programs accessible to Haitians – including via translations to Haitian Creole.

“Without transparency, not only is it impossible for U.S. taxpayers to know what is being done with their money, but the Haitian government and the Haitian people have little opportunity to ensure that U.S.-funded projects actually assist Haiti in rebuilding and dealing with ongoing urgent humanitarian needs,” paper co-author Alex Main said.

Below are a series of graphs from the report, illustrating what we do know and the limitations of the data available.

Total USAID Obligations in Millions of USD

alt

Since the earthquake in January 2010, USAID has awarded $1.15 billion in contracts and grants. 

Top Ten USAID Awardees (in Millions of USD)

alt

More than half of the $1.15 billion have gone to the top ten recipients of USAID awards. Chemonics, the largest single recipient of USAID funds, has received more than the next three largest recipients combined.

2010-2012 USAID Funds for Haiti: Planned, Obligated, Spent (in millions of USD)

alt

While one can ascertain overall levels of funding, more detailed breakdowns are not provided. As can be seen above, of the $2.15 billion in planned spending, just 25 percent has been spent.

Sectorial Breakdown of USAID Spending in Haiti, 2010-2012

alt

USAID provides a sectorial breakdown of spending from 2010-2012, but little information on specific projects within these sectors.

Percent Breakdown in Location of USAID Prime Awardees

alt

Across all of USAID’s grants and contracts, just 0.7 percent has gone directly to Haitian organizations or firms. This is despite the USAID Forward reform program, which envisions increasing local procurement. Over 56 percent went to organizations or firms located in the Beltway area (Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia).

Share of Haiti Contracts that Have Gone to CIDC Firms

alt

More than half of all contracts awarded by USAID have gone to firms belonging to the Coalition for International Development companies, a lobbying group which is pushing back against USAID’s Forward reform agenda.

Percent of USAID Prime Awardees Reporting Subawards

alt

To truly assess where USAID funds go, and what percent is spent locally, it is vital to have information on subawards as well as on prime awards. Unfortunately, only 1 percent of all awards have publically reported information on subawards.

To read the entire report, click here

 

 

Today, CEPR released a new report authored by Jake Johnston and Alex Main on USAID in Haiti. The paper looks at the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, what we know about how it is being administered, to what extent it is adhering to the USAID Forward reform agenda and what steps can be taken to ensure more effective and transparent delivery of aid to Haiti. While one can see who the primary awardees are, the lack of more detailed data creates the impression that U.S. foreign assistance goes into a “black box” where it becomes nearly impossible to tell what happens afterwards.

The report notes that the few audits and evaluations of USAID’s programs in Haiti since the earthquake present a “troubling picture of the manner in which U.S. relief and reconstruction efforts have been conducted so far.” Contractors have hired far fewer Haitians than promised, Haitian businesses were largely excluded, goals were not met, there was inadequate supervision of grantees, and USAID had not conducted internal financial reviews of contractors.

The paper makes several recommendations for how to improve transparency and accountability around the $1 billion in outstanding obligated U.S. aid funds for Haiti, as well as around any additional aid funding in the future. These include making data available on subcontractors; ensuring awardee compliance with federal regulations and contract requirements; reducing reliance on large, multi-year contracts that favor traditional partners while increasing direct contracting to Haitian entities; strengthening USAID’s capacity to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation of assistance programs; making all evaluations publically available; ensuring the involvement of local populations; and making all available information on assistance programs accessible to Haitians – including via translations to Haitian Creole.

“Without transparency, not only is it impossible for U.S. taxpayers to know what is being done with their money, but the Haitian government and the Haitian people have little opportunity to ensure that U.S.-funded projects actually assist Haiti in rebuilding and dealing with ongoing urgent humanitarian needs,” paper co-author Alex Main said.

Below are a series of graphs from the report, illustrating what we do know and the limitations of the data available.

Total USAID Obligations in Millions of USD

alt

Since the earthquake in January 2010, USAID has awarded $1.15 billion in contracts and grants. 

Top Ten USAID Awardees (in Millions of USD)

alt

More than half of the $1.15 billion have gone to the top ten recipients of USAID awards. Chemonics, the largest single recipient of USAID funds, has received more than the next three largest recipients combined.

2010-2012 USAID Funds for Haiti: Planned, Obligated, Spent (in millions of USD)

alt

While one can ascertain overall levels of funding, more detailed breakdowns are not provided. As can be seen above, of the $2.15 billion in planned spending, just 25 percent has been spent.

Sectorial Breakdown of USAID Spending in Haiti, 2010-2012

alt

USAID provides a sectorial breakdown of spending from 2010-2012, but little information on specific projects within these sectors.

Percent Breakdown in Location of USAID Prime Awardees

alt

Across all of USAID’s grants and contracts, just 0.7 percent has gone directly to Haitian organizations or firms. This is despite the USAID Forward reform program, which envisions increasing local procurement. Over 56 percent went to organizations or firms located in the Beltway area (Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia).

Share of Haiti Contracts that Have Gone to CIDC Firms

alt

More than half of all contracts awarded by USAID have gone to firms belonging to the Coalition for International Development companies, a lobbying group which is pushing back against USAID’s Forward reform agenda.

Percent of USAID Prime Awardees Reporting Subawards

alt

To truly assess where USAID funds go, and what percent is spent locally, it is vital to have information on subawards as well as on prime awards. Unfortunately, only 1 percent of all awards have publically reported information on subawards.

To read the entire report, click here

 

 

Earlier this week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favor of the 567 families that have been under constant threat of eviction in the Grace Village camp. Given the “imminent” threat to those in the camp, the IACHR urged the Government of Haiti:

1. To adopt the necessary measures to avoid the excessive use of force and of violence in any eviction.  In particular, to guarantee that the public authorities’ actions as well as those of private parties pose no risk to the life and personal integrity of the camp residents;

2. To implement effective security measures, in particular, to ensure that there is an adequate patrol around and inside the camp and to install police stations close to the camp. To this effect, the IACHR asks the Government to provide special protection to women and children;

3. To ensure that the residents have access to the potable water required for basic needs;

4. To consult with the beneficiaries and their representatives regarding the measures that need to be taken.  In particular, ensure that the camp residents’ committee as well as grassroots women’s groups can fully participate in the planning and execution of the measures implemented for the benefit of residents, including measures focused on the prevention of sexual violence and other forms of violence in the camp; and

5. To inform [the public] regarding the adopted measures so as to investigate the events that justifies the adoption of precautionary measures

As we have written previously, the residents of Grace Village have faced significant and on-going harassment, which has included government complicity at both the local and national level. The alleged owner of the land is Pastor Joel Jeune, the founder of a Florida based 501(c)(3) organization, Grace International Inc. As the request for precautionary measures points out, the pastor’s close “ties to the mayor’s office and the local police force him to enlist the help of Haitian police to carry out illegal evictions. With his private security forces and the Haitian police, Pastor Joel Jeune has orchestrated and participated in violent, forced evictions of displaced families living inside Grace Village.”

Amnesty International had warned earlier this month that the camp was “under threat of forced eviction” and that there was a “list of people from the camp” that the police were going to arrest. Amnesty urged the Haitian government to “ensure that residents of Grace Village camp are not evicted without due process, adequate notice and consultation, and that all those affected have access to adequate alternative accommodation.”

In requesting the precautionary measures, human rights lawyers Mario Joseph, Patrice Florvilus and Nicole Phillips argue that:

the Haitian government’s failure to protect a vulnerable group, while simultaneously assisting non-state actors in brutalizing this vulnerable group, violates the Equal Protection clause enshrined in Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights. Finally, the Haitian government’s failure to protect displaced families in Grace Village from forced evictions interferes with these individuals’ exercise of fundamental rights, including the right to life, personal liberty, privacy, family, property, and judicial protection, as guaranteed by the Inter-American Convention.

The recommendations by the IACHR “reconfirm that forced evictions from displacement camps not only add trauma to earthquake victims, but also violate Haitian and international human rights standards,” said Nicole Phillips of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. She added, “landowners should raise their concerns with the Haitian government and international community who have not provided adequate housing to earthquake victims, rather than waging violence against displaced communities desperate to find a safe home.”

Meanwhile, in Haiti today, hundreds perhaps thousands of displaced persons are marching for adequate housing and against forced evictions. Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, which is tweeting updates from the march, notes that, “Each time the IDP protest passes a camp the number of people grows; was several hundreds, now thousands.” According to the UN, over 70,000 people (20% of the total displaced population) are facing threats of eviction in 2013.

 

Earlier this week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures in favor of the 567 families that have been under constant threat of eviction in the Grace Village camp. Given the “imminent” threat to those in the camp, the IACHR urged the Government of Haiti:

1. To adopt the necessary measures to avoid the excessive use of force and of violence in any eviction.  In particular, to guarantee that the public authorities’ actions as well as those of private parties pose no risk to the life and personal integrity of the camp residents;

2. To implement effective security measures, in particular, to ensure that there is an adequate patrol around and inside the camp and to install police stations close to the camp. To this effect, the IACHR asks the Government to provide special protection to women and children;

3. To ensure that the residents have access to the potable water required for basic needs;

4. To consult with the beneficiaries and their representatives regarding the measures that need to be taken.  In particular, ensure that the camp residents’ committee as well as grassroots women’s groups can fully participate in the planning and execution of the measures implemented for the benefit of residents, including measures focused on the prevention of sexual violence and other forms of violence in the camp; and

5. To inform [the public] regarding the adopted measures so as to investigate the events that justifies the adoption of precautionary measures

As we have written previously, the residents of Grace Village have faced significant and on-going harassment, which has included government complicity at both the local and national level. The alleged owner of the land is Pastor Joel Jeune, the founder of a Florida based 501(c)(3) organization, Grace International Inc. As the request for precautionary measures points out, the pastor’s close “ties to the mayor’s office and the local police force him to enlist the help of Haitian police to carry out illegal evictions. With his private security forces and the Haitian police, Pastor Joel Jeune has orchestrated and participated in violent, forced evictions of displaced families living inside Grace Village.”

Amnesty International had warned earlier this month that the camp was “under threat of forced eviction” and that there was a “list of people from the camp” that the police were going to arrest. Amnesty urged the Haitian government to “ensure that residents of Grace Village camp are not evicted without due process, adequate notice and consultation, and that all those affected have access to adequate alternative accommodation.”

In requesting the precautionary measures, human rights lawyers Mario Joseph, Patrice Florvilus and Nicole Phillips argue that:

the Haitian government’s failure to protect a vulnerable group, while simultaneously assisting non-state actors in brutalizing this vulnerable group, violates the Equal Protection clause enshrined in Article 24 of the American Convention on Human Rights. Finally, the Haitian government’s failure to protect displaced families in Grace Village from forced evictions interferes with these individuals’ exercise of fundamental rights, including the right to life, personal liberty, privacy, family, property, and judicial protection, as guaranteed by the Inter-American Convention.

The recommendations by the IACHR “reconfirm that forced evictions from displacement camps not only add trauma to earthquake victims, but also violate Haitian and international human rights standards,” said Nicole Phillips of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. She added, “landowners should raise their concerns with the Haitian government and international community who have not provided adequate housing to earthquake victims, rather than waging violence against displaced communities desperate to find a safe home.”

Meanwhile, in Haiti today, hundreds perhaps thousands of displaced persons are marching for adequate housing and against forced evictions. Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, which is tweeting updates from the march, notes that, “Each time the IDP protest passes a camp the number of people grows; was several hundreds, now thousands.” According to the UN, over 70,000 people (20% of the total displaced population) are facing threats of eviction in 2013.

 

The Haitian government’s Société Nationale des Parcs Industriels (SONAPI) hired a U.S. lobbying firm in February to draft documents and arrange meetings “with Congressional Members and staff and Administration officials to seek change to trade legislation” and to help “implement” worker rights provisions, according to Foreign Agent registration documents. SONAPI is the government entity which owns the newly-opened Caracol industrial park, and is the institution responsible for locating, organizing and managing industrial parks throughout Haiti. Yesterday, a presidential decree named business owner Bernard Schettini as the new head of SONAPI, replacing George Sassine, the ex-president of the Association of Industries of Haiti and the former Executive Director of CTMO-HOPE, the commission in charge of implementing U.S. preferential trade legislation.

Lobbying disclosures show that Sorini, Samet & Associates has been hired at the rate of $5,000 a month to help SONAPI lobby congress. Andrew Samet, the co-founder and principal of the firm, was the Deputy Undersecretary of Labor under President Clinton and later worked for law firm Sandler Travis and Rosenberg which counted the industry group the American Apparel and Footwear Association as a major client (the Association in turn has supported “free trade” deals such as CAFTA and HELP legislation for Haiti). Samet was hired as a lobbyist by Colombia in 2008 when it was pushing for passage of a “free trade” agreement with the U.S. Samet was hired to provide “a strategy on labor issues directed to support favourable consideration” of the FTA with the U.S. and to assist “the government of Colombia in presenting information on labor issues with relevant U.S. stakeholders, including U.S. Congress, the administration, labor advocacy groups, trade unions and the media.” The FTA with Colombia was eventually passed despite the ongoing killing of unionists in the country, which continues to this day. In June 2012 the AFL-CIO issued a report documenting how the Labor Action plan attached to the FTA was failing to prevent labor and human rights violations. For six months of work in 2008, Sorini, Samet & Associates received over $100,000, according to lobbying disclosuredocuments.

The firm has also done previous work for Sassine and the Haitian government during Sassine’s tenure at CTMO-HOPE, earning nearly $400,000 from 20082010 lobbying Congress for the passage of new trade legislation and the implementation of “worker rights provisions.” Industrial parks and garment manufacturing are seen as vital development tools by the Haitian government and many of its international backers. The industry is reliant on trade preferences offered by the United States which started in 2006 with the HOPE act and culminated in the “HELP” act, which was passed soon after the earthquake. According to stakeholders, the HELP legislation, which extended the length of the preferences and increased the amount of textiles that would be subject to benefits, was a key part of bringing in Sae-A Trading, the global manufacturer that recently opened a factory at the Caracol industrial park.

While Sorini, Samet & Associates was previously hired to help implement “worker rights provisions” associated with the HOPE legislation, factories in Haiti are still in violation of a significant number of provisions under the preferential trade legislation. The most recent Better Work Haiti report found that 21 of 22 factories covered in their analysis (Caracol is not covered yet) were non-compliant with minimum wage laws, for example. This past summer, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in their annual compliance report, found that “there was sufficient credible evidence to conclude that three specific producers were non-compliant with one or more of the core labor standards.” This was the first time in four years that the report named specific factories. The violations included non-compliance in: sexual harassment, freedom of association and forced labor.

Just last month, Batay Ouvriye, one of the leading worker rights groups in Haiti issued a statement on the case of Leo Vedél.  Vedél works for a factory in Port-au-Prince named Premium Apparel, which supplies textiles to Gildan, a Canadian clothing company. While the minimum wage in Haiti was recently raised, many factories have not yet raised their wages. Vedél and other workers organized a protest after their requests to be paid the minimum wage were rebuffed. The result, as Batay Ouvriye notes, was that Vedél was beaten by a manager of the park and subsequently fired.

With the Caracol industrial park the centerpiece of the U.S. and international community’s earthquake reconstruction, new focus is being put on labor violations in Haiti’s factories. The U.S., International Labor Organization and other entities have indeed stepped up monitoring of factories; nevertheless, the U.S. has been reluctant to enforce worker rights provisions through the suspension of tariff benefits, opting instead to work with factories and not “scare off jobs” by revoking benefits.

This increased scrutiny, even if it hasn’t resulted in tangible consequences, could be why Sorini, Samet & Associates was hired to “provide support to SONAPI on the continued implementation and compliance with the requirements of the HOPE and HELP legislation, with specific reference to the labor and social compliance obligations of the legislation.” Additionally, the firm will support “officials of SONAPI in meeting with the US Government, US Congress, international organizations, and other interested stakeholders… on the implementation of the legislation and programs related to it.”

Caracol is not yet included in the Better Work monitoring reports but press reports have noted that working conditions are far from ideal, despite a U.S. pledge that “Sae-A would be closely monitored in Haiti because of trade legislation requiring stringent scrutiny through an American-financed inspection program.” One worker recently told Haiti Grassroots Watch, “They yell at us as if we were animals. The food they prepare is bad. There is only warm water to drink. Sometimes I’ve had to work all day without a facemask. Dust fills my nose.” Additionally, while the factory seems to be paying the minimum wage, “most have only 57 gourdes, or US$1.36, in hand after paying for transportation and food,” far from a living wage. Commenting on the pay, another worker told Haiti Grassroots Watch that, “It’s not worth it! The supervisors don’t respect us. They don’t see us as human beings. They hit us with pieces of cloth.”

While a union has taken shape in Caracol, there are still many impediments in factories to organizing. One worker for Global Manufacturers and Contractors recently told Fran Quigley, “‘The people fired for being part of the union make a list this long, “ Jackson says, holding his hands two feet apart. “They find a different reason to let them go, but they are tagged because they are part of the syndicat [union].’”

Sorini, Samet & Associates has a track record of working for governments whose compliance with labor and human rights are questioned, in addition to Colombia. In April, as the government of Bahrain was leading a bloody crackdown on its population, the AFL-CIO submitted a complaint under the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement because of the “firing of hundreds of workers and union leaders for participating in strikes and other pro-democracy actions,” according to Justin Elliot of Salon. The Obama administration eventually accepted the submission. In response, the foreign ministry of Bahrain hired Sorini, Samet & Associates at a rate of up to $550 per hour to “support…the engagement of other U.S. stakeholders related to the Submission, including the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations, relevant human rights groups, think tanks and scholars, elements of the U.S. business community, and the media,” among other actions.

The Haitian government’s Société Nationale des Parcs Industriels (SONAPI) hired a U.S. lobbying firm in February to draft documents and arrange meetings “with Congressional Members and staff and Administration officials to seek change to trade legislation” and to help “implement” worker rights provisions, according to Foreign Agent registration documents. SONAPI is the government entity which owns the newly-opened Caracol industrial park, and is the institution responsible for locating, organizing and managing industrial parks throughout Haiti. Yesterday, a presidential decree named business owner Bernard Schettini as the new head of SONAPI, replacing George Sassine, the ex-president of the Association of Industries of Haiti and the former Executive Director of CTMO-HOPE, the commission in charge of implementing U.S. preferential trade legislation.

Lobbying disclosures show that Sorini, Samet & Associates has been hired at the rate of $5,000 a month to help SONAPI lobby congress. Andrew Samet, the co-founder and principal of the firm, was the Deputy Undersecretary of Labor under President Clinton and later worked for law firm Sandler Travis and Rosenberg which counted the industry group the American Apparel and Footwear Association as a major client (the Association in turn has supported “free trade” deals such as CAFTA and HELP legislation for Haiti). Samet was hired as a lobbyist by Colombia in 2008 when it was pushing for passage of a “free trade” agreement with the U.S. Samet was hired to provide “a strategy on labor issues directed to support favourable consideration” of the FTA with the U.S. and to assist “the government of Colombia in presenting information on labor issues with relevant U.S. stakeholders, including U.S. Congress, the administration, labor advocacy groups, trade unions and the media.” The FTA with Colombia was eventually passed despite the ongoing killing of unionists in the country, which continues to this day. In June 2012 the AFL-CIO issued a report documenting how the Labor Action plan attached to the FTA was failing to prevent labor and human rights violations. For six months of work in 2008, Sorini, Samet & Associates received over $100,000, according to lobbying disclosuredocuments.

The firm has also done previous work for Sassine and the Haitian government during Sassine’s tenure at CTMO-HOPE, earning nearly $400,000 from 20082010 lobbying Congress for the passage of new trade legislation and the implementation of “worker rights provisions.” Industrial parks and garment manufacturing are seen as vital development tools by the Haitian government and many of its international backers. The industry is reliant on trade preferences offered by the United States which started in 2006 with the HOPE act and culminated in the “HELP” act, which was passed soon after the earthquake. According to stakeholders, the HELP legislation, which extended the length of the preferences and increased the amount of textiles that would be subject to benefits, was a key part of bringing in Sae-A Trading, the global manufacturer that recently opened a factory at the Caracol industrial park.

While Sorini, Samet & Associates was previously hired to help implement “worker rights provisions” associated with the HOPE legislation, factories in Haiti are still in violation of a significant number of provisions under the preferential trade legislation. The most recent Better Work Haiti report found that 21 of 22 factories covered in their analysis (Caracol is not covered yet) were non-compliant with minimum wage laws, for example. This past summer, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, in their annual compliance report, found that “there was sufficient credible evidence to conclude that three specific producers were non-compliant with one or more of the core labor standards.” This was the first time in four years that the report named specific factories. The violations included non-compliance in: sexual harassment, freedom of association and forced labor.

Just last month, Batay Ouvriye, one of the leading worker rights groups in Haiti issued a statement on the case of Leo Vedél.  Vedél works for a factory in Port-au-Prince named Premium Apparel, which supplies textiles to Gildan, a Canadian clothing company. While the minimum wage in Haiti was recently raised, many factories have not yet raised their wages. Vedél and other workers organized a protest after their requests to be paid the minimum wage were rebuffed. The result, as Batay Ouvriye notes, was that Vedél was beaten by a manager of the park and subsequently fired.

With the Caracol industrial park the centerpiece of the U.S. and international community’s earthquake reconstruction, new focus is being put on labor violations in Haiti’s factories. The U.S., International Labor Organization and other entities have indeed stepped up monitoring of factories; nevertheless, the U.S. has been reluctant to enforce worker rights provisions through the suspension of tariff benefits, opting instead to work with factories and not “scare off jobs” by revoking benefits.

This increased scrutiny, even if it hasn’t resulted in tangible consequences, could be why Sorini, Samet & Associates was hired to “provide support to SONAPI on the continued implementation and compliance with the requirements of the HOPE and HELP legislation, with specific reference to the labor and social compliance obligations of the legislation.” Additionally, the firm will support “officials of SONAPI in meeting with the US Government, US Congress, international organizations, and other interested stakeholders… on the implementation of the legislation and programs related to it.”

Caracol is not yet included in the Better Work monitoring reports but press reports have noted that working conditions are far from ideal, despite a U.S. pledge that “Sae-A would be closely monitored in Haiti because of trade legislation requiring stringent scrutiny through an American-financed inspection program.” One worker recently told Haiti Grassroots Watch, “They yell at us as if we were animals. The food they prepare is bad. There is only warm water to drink. Sometimes I’ve had to work all day without a facemask. Dust fills my nose.” Additionally, while the factory seems to be paying the minimum wage, “most have only 57 gourdes, or US$1.36, in hand after paying for transportation and food,” far from a living wage. Commenting on the pay, another worker told Haiti Grassroots Watch that, “It’s not worth it! The supervisors don’t respect us. They don’t see us as human beings. They hit us with pieces of cloth.”

While a union has taken shape in Caracol, there are still many impediments in factories to organizing. One worker for Global Manufacturers and Contractors recently told Fran Quigley, “‘The people fired for being part of the union make a list this long, “ Jackson says, holding his hands two feet apart. “They find a different reason to let them go, but they are tagged because they are part of the syndicat [union].’”

Sorini, Samet & Associates has a track record of working for governments whose compliance with labor and human rights are questioned, in addition to Colombia. In April, as the government of Bahrain was leading a bloody crackdown on its population, the AFL-CIO submitted a complaint under the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement because of the “firing of hundreds of workers and union leaders for participating in strikes and other pro-democracy actions,” according to Justin Elliot of Salon. The Obama administration eventually accepted the submission. In response, the foreign ministry of Bahrain hired Sorini, Samet & Associates at a rate of up to $550 per hour to “support…the engagement of other U.S. stakeholders related to the Submission, including the AFL-CIO and other labor organizations, relevant human rights groups, think tanks and scholars, elements of the U.S. business community, and the media,” among other actions.

According to reports on Twitter yesterday, the United Nations independent expert on the human rights situation in Haiti, Michel Forst has resigned for “personal reasons,” even though his mandate was supposed to continue for another year. In one of his last acts, Forst’s report for the U.N. Human Rights Council was presented yesterday, recommending to Haiti and the international community that they “throw light” on the cause of the cholera outbreak and “respond to any compensation requests”. The cholera outbreak has killed at least 8,050 and sickened over 650,000 more.

In his report Forst notes that the “question of what caused the outbreak of the epidemic in Haiti remains a burning issue that has attracted significant public controversy.” Over the last few years, a number of scientific reports have identified U.N. troops as the source of cholera’s introduction. Forst’s report, which was issued before the U.N.’s denial of victims’ compensation claims, notes “that silence is the worst response.”

The U.N. broke their “silence” on the issue by rejecting the victims’ claims, yet they have continued to stonewall on the issue of responsibility. While Forst “deplores” the exploitation of the issue by “certain organizations…for political ends,” he recognizes the “need that victims or their families have expressed to know the truth and perhaps even to be given compensation.”

In addition to recommending shedding light on the cause of the outbreak, Forst also calls on the international community and Haitian government to, “Secure international assistance to combat the spread of the cholera epidemic.” The claim against the U.N., in addition to seeking damages, also asks for the U.N. to fund the needed infrastructure to eradicate cholera from Haiti. A 10 year, $2.2 billion eradication plan has been announced, but thus far the funding for it remains in doubt. The plan for the first two years notes that “The total cost for implementation of the Action Plan for 2013–2015 is estimated to be US$443,723,100.” So far, little more than half of that – $238 million – has been secured, most of it from existing funds.

On Sunday, the New York Times editorial board added their voice to those critical of the U.N.’s immunity claim, noting that the U.N.’s “handling of cholera is looking like a fiasco.” The Times adds:

While it insists that it has no legal liability for cholera victims, it must not duck its moral obligations. That means mobilizing doctors and money to save lives now, and making sure the eradication plan gets all the money and support it needs.

Its record so far is dubious. A U.N. appeal last year for $24 million for cholera programs ended the year only 32 percent financed, and in December, the U.N. said it would contribute $23.5 million to the new 10-year plan — about 1 percent of what is needed.

The opinion from the Times comes after the medical group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned last week that a “lack of funds and supplies has crippled cholera treatment programs in Haiti, leading to unnecessary deaths and increasing the risk of greater outbreaks during the upcoming rainy season.” Duncan McLean, MSF program manager in New York, added that, “Cholera now appears to be seen as a development issue to be resolved over the next 10 years, whereas the current situation still calls for an emergency medical response…The necessary resources for such a response are becoming increasingly scarce.”

And who should pay for that? In an article for The Nation, Isabeau Doucet asked Yann Libessart, MSF communications officer, who offered a blunt response: “The people who are responsible for the introduction of the disease into the country.”

While the U.N. has only funded 1 percent of the plan, Nigel Fisher, head of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) – whose troops caused the cholera outbreak – told Doucet that the rest of the money should come from the “private sector” or “major venture philanthropist individuals.”

Yesterday the U.N. Security Council met to discuss the Secretary General’s annual report on MINUSTAH. Some countries used the opportunity to call on the U.N. to do more to combat the cholera epidemic. The representative from Luxembourg noted that the launching of a cholera eradication plan was part of the international community’s “moral responsibility” to help those affected. The representative from Togo went even further noting that “the source…was known,” and that the “United Nations should continue to assume a “moral responsibility” to eradicate that disease.” Permanent members of the Security Council such as the U.S. remained silent on the issue.

 

According to reports on Twitter yesterday, the United Nations independent expert on the human rights situation in Haiti, Michel Forst has resigned for “personal reasons,” even though his mandate was supposed to continue for another year. In one of his last acts, Forst’s report for the U.N. Human Rights Council was presented yesterday, recommending to Haiti and the international community that they “throw light” on the cause of the cholera outbreak and “respond to any compensation requests”. The cholera outbreak has killed at least 8,050 and sickened over 650,000 more.

In his report Forst notes that the “question of what caused the outbreak of the epidemic in Haiti remains a burning issue that has attracted significant public controversy.” Over the last few years, a number of scientific reports have identified U.N. troops as the source of cholera’s introduction. Forst’s report, which was issued before the U.N.’s denial of victims’ compensation claims, notes “that silence is the worst response.”

The U.N. broke their “silence” on the issue by rejecting the victims’ claims, yet they have continued to stonewall on the issue of responsibility. While Forst “deplores” the exploitation of the issue by “certain organizations…for political ends,” he recognizes the “need that victims or their families have expressed to know the truth and perhaps even to be given compensation.”

In addition to recommending shedding light on the cause of the outbreak, Forst also calls on the international community and Haitian government to, “Secure international assistance to combat the spread of the cholera epidemic.” The claim against the U.N., in addition to seeking damages, also asks for the U.N. to fund the needed infrastructure to eradicate cholera from Haiti. A 10 year, $2.2 billion eradication plan has been announced, but thus far the funding for it remains in doubt. The plan for the first two years notes that “The total cost for implementation of the Action Plan for 2013–2015 is estimated to be US$443,723,100.” So far, little more than half of that – $238 million – has been secured, most of it from existing funds.

On Sunday, the New York Times editorial board added their voice to those critical of the U.N.’s immunity claim, noting that the U.N.’s “handling of cholera is looking like a fiasco.” The Times adds:

While it insists that it has no legal liability for cholera victims, it must not duck its moral obligations. That means mobilizing doctors and money to save lives now, and making sure the eradication plan gets all the money and support it needs.

Its record so far is dubious. A U.N. appeal last year for $24 million for cholera programs ended the year only 32 percent financed, and in December, the U.N. said it would contribute $23.5 million to the new 10-year plan — about 1 percent of what is needed.

The opinion from the Times comes after the medical group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned last week that a “lack of funds and supplies has crippled cholera treatment programs in Haiti, leading to unnecessary deaths and increasing the risk of greater outbreaks during the upcoming rainy season.” Duncan McLean, MSF program manager in New York, added that, “Cholera now appears to be seen as a development issue to be resolved over the next 10 years, whereas the current situation still calls for an emergency medical response…The necessary resources for such a response are becoming increasingly scarce.”

And who should pay for that? In an article for The Nation, Isabeau Doucet asked Yann Libessart, MSF communications officer, who offered a blunt response: “The people who are responsible for the introduction of the disease into the country.”

While the U.N. has only funded 1 percent of the plan, Nigel Fisher, head of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) – whose troops caused the cholera outbreak – told Doucet that the rest of the money should come from the “private sector” or “major venture philanthropist individuals.”

Yesterday the U.N. Security Council met to discuss the Secretary General’s annual report on MINUSTAH. Some countries used the opportunity to call on the U.N. to do more to combat the cholera epidemic. The representative from Luxembourg noted that the launching of a cholera eradication plan was part of the international community’s “moral responsibility” to help those affected. The representative from Togo went even further noting that “the source…was known,” and that the “United Nations should continue to assume a “moral responsibility” to eradicate that disease.” Permanent members of the Security Council such as the U.S. remained silent on the issue.

 

Want to search in the archives?

¿Quieres buscar en los archivos?

Click Here Haga clic aquí