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.

Port-au-Prince – The origin of Haiti’s deadly cholera outbreak is not much in doubt, at least not to anybody outside the U.N. A host of scientific studies have all pointed to UN troops whose waste made it in to the largest river in Haiti as the source. While the U.N. has yet to accept responsibility, it has announced an initiative to raise funds for a $2.2 billion 10-year cholera eradication plan. At this point however, no official plan even exists, at least not publicly. Meanwhile, pressure continues to build for the U.N. to do more, and put up its own funds rather than just relying on notoriously unreliable donor pledges. The U.N. said it would chip in $23 million for the plan, a mere 1 percent of what is needed. This compares to the nearly $1.9 billion that the U.N. has spent since the earthquake on the troops that brought cholera to Haiti.

As we have previously noted, Haitian President Martelly recently added his voice to the chorus, saying that “certainly” the U.N. should take responsibility and that “[t]he U.N. itself could bring money to the table.” Grassroots pressure both within Haiti and outside has also increased. More than 25,000 have signed an online petition created by Oliver Stone calling on the U.N. to take action and secure the needed funding. And while it has been over 14 months since over 5,000 Haitians demanded reparations for those affected and for the U.N. to invest in the needed infrastructure, as of yet there has been no formal response from the U.N.

Cholera Not “Under Control”

In the meantime, cholera continues to wreak havoc throughout the country. Although the number of cases and deaths has dropped this year, the epidemic still sickened over 110,000 and killed 900, making cholera more prevalent in Haiti than anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, the Haitian Health Minister took to the radio a few days ago to talk about the “success” of the cholera response; the Prime Minister has previously declared the epidemic to be “under control”. The U.N. recently lauded the efforts of the government and humanitarian actors for managing “to contain the spread of cholera in 2012.”

Cholera Cases 2010 12 2

But despite the statements of success, the ability to respond to the epidemic continues to decrease. From August of 2011 to August of 2012 the number of cholera treatment centers has decreased from 38 to 20, while the number of treatment units has decreased from 205 to 71. Funding to respond to the outbreak is decreasing as NGOs struggle to get donors interested in an epidemic over two years old. While funding comes in fits and starts after a hurricane or devastating storm, the response needs consistent support so as to be prepared for those emergencies rather than just a response to them.

As one health expert who asked to remain anonymous noted, while the number of cases may slow slightly next year because of the natural progression of the disease, “2013 will be even worse than 2012.” With the number of health facilities dwindling and humanitarian actors pulling out, it is likely that the mortality rate could actually increase in 2013, according to the expert.

In fact, there is some evidence that this is already happening. In the last three months of 2012 while the number of cases and deaths were lower than the same months of 2011, the case fatality rate actually increased slightly. December 2012 was the first month that saw a greater number of deaths than the same month of the previous year. And the increase wasn’t small – 137 this year compared to 47 last year. The fatality rate for December was 1.2, up from 0.8 last year. While the increase over 2011 can be partially explained by the passage of Hurricane Sandy in October, it had such a large impact because of the already declining response capacity. 

FatalityRate Cholera 3

Additionally, in some rural areas where those who contract cholera may have to walk many hours just to reach health facilities, fatality rates continue to be far above that of the national rate. In the Grand’Anse and Sud-Est provinces the rate remains above 4 percent, for example.

While in some parts of the country, the Haitian ministry of health is actively working on the response and taking over treatment facilities, this has not yet occurred on a national scale. As humanitarian actors pull out, it will become even more imperative to transfer the response system to the ministry of health. Unfortunately, the ministry remains poorly funded and has been unable to fill in the gaps left by departing aid agencies.

According to Médecins Sans Frontières, which has played a critical role in responding to the outbreak:

The transition process is much too slow…[t]hat’s because Haitian institutions are weak, donors have not kept their promises, and the government and the international community have failed to set clear priorities.

Of the money that has been disbursed by donors, little of it has made its way to the Haitian government. For example, direct budget support to the governmentwas lower in 2011 and 2012 than in 2009, the year before the earthquake. Amazingly, the Red Cross got more money for the cholera response than the national government.

 

Port-au-Prince – The origin of Haiti’s deadly cholera outbreak is not much in doubt, at least not to anybody outside the U.N. A host of scientific studies have all pointed to UN troops whose waste made it in to the largest river in Haiti as the source. While the U.N. has yet to accept responsibility, it has announced an initiative to raise funds for a $2.2 billion 10-year cholera eradication plan. At this point however, no official plan even exists, at least not publicly. Meanwhile, pressure continues to build for the U.N. to do more, and put up its own funds rather than just relying on notoriously unreliable donor pledges. The U.N. said it would chip in $23 million for the plan, a mere 1 percent of what is needed. This compares to the nearly $1.9 billion that the U.N. has spent since the earthquake on the troops that brought cholera to Haiti.

As we have previously noted, Haitian President Martelly recently added his voice to the chorus, saying that “certainly” the U.N. should take responsibility and that “[t]he U.N. itself could bring money to the table.” Grassroots pressure both within Haiti and outside has also increased. More than 25,000 have signed an online petition created by Oliver Stone calling on the U.N. to take action and secure the needed funding. And while it has been over 14 months since over 5,000 Haitians demanded reparations for those affected and for the U.N. to invest in the needed infrastructure, as of yet there has been no formal response from the U.N.

Cholera Not “Under Control”

In the meantime, cholera continues to wreak havoc throughout the country. Although the number of cases and deaths has dropped this year, the epidemic still sickened over 110,000 and killed 900, making cholera more prevalent in Haiti than anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, the Haitian Health Minister took to the radio a few days ago to talk about the “success” of the cholera response; the Prime Minister has previously declared the epidemic to be “under control”. The U.N. recently lauded the efforts of the government and humanitarian actors for managing “to contain the spread of cholera in 2012.”

Cholera Cases 2010 12 2

But despite the statements of success, the ability to respond to the epidemic continues to decrease. From August of 2011 to August of 2012 the number of cholera treatment centers has decreased from 38 to 20, while the number of treatment units has decreased from 205 to 71. Funding to respond to the outbreak is decreasing as NGOs struggle to get donors interested in an epidemic over two years old. While funding comes in fits and starts after a hurricane or devastating storm, the response needs consistent support so as to be prepared for those emergencies rather than just a response to them.

As one health expert who asked to remain anonymous noted, while the number of cases may slow slightly next year because of the natural progression of the disease, “2013 will be even worse than 2012.” With the number of health facilities dwindling and humanitarian actors pulling out, it is likely that the mortality rate could actually increase in 2013, according to the expert.

In fact, there is some evidence that this is already happening. In the last three months of 2012 while the number of cases and deaths were lower than the same months of 2011, the case fatality rate actually increased slightly. December 2012 was the first month that saw a greater number of deaths than the same month of the previous year. And the increase wasn’t small – 137 this year compared to 47 last year. The fatality rate for December was 1.2, up from 0.8 last year. While the increase over 2011 can be partially explained by the passage of Hurricane Sandy in October, it had such a large impact because of the already declining response capacity. 

FatalityRate Cholera 3

Additionally, in some rural areas where those who contract cholera may have to walk many hours just to reach health facilities, fatality rates continue to be far above that of the national rate. In the Grand’Anse and Sud-Est provinces the rate remains above 4 percent, for example.

While in some parts of the country, the Haitian ministry of health is actively working on the response and taking over treatment facilities, this has not yet occurred on a national scale. As humanitarian actors pull out, it will become even more imperative to transfer the response system to the ministry of health. Unfortunately, the ministry remains poorly funded and has been unable to fill in the gaps left by departing aid agencies.

According to Médecins Sans Frontières, which has played a critical role in responding to the outbreak:

The transition process is much too slow…[t]hat’s because Haitian institutions are weak, donors have not kept their promises, and the government and the international community have failed to set clear priorities.

Of the money that has been disbursed by donors, little of it has made its way to the Haitian government. For example, direct budget support to the governmentwas lower in 2011 and 2012 than in 2009, the year before the earthquake. Amazingly, the Red Cross got more money for the cholera response than the national government.

 

An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor today begins:

The third anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, has not drawn much attention. This is despite the fact that 1 out of every 2 Americans donated money to the relief and thousands of people from around the world volunteered to rebuild the Caribbean nation.

The reason is that the hope of “rebuilding Haiti better” after this particularly big natural disaster is, well, still largely a hope.

It is true that the sad anniversary has received less attention this year; there have been fewer TV crews flying down to Haiti, for one thing, and apparently less attention on Haiti this time by national and local radio programs. Other “three years later” pieces have already run in papers such as the New York Times and the Miami Herald.

Here’s a sampling of some of the news, reporting and commentary posted today and yesterday.

First, the European Union announced today that it would provide an additional €30.5 ($40.69) million to Haiti, saying “This new money will mainly help those still homeless as a result of the earthquake, cholera victims and those badly affected by Hurricane Sandy.”

The U.S. State Department issued a statement celebrating what it described as “more than three and a half years” of “work[ing] closely to be a good partner to the government and people of Haiti.”

Among these are that

The United States and other donors supported the Government of Haiti’s free and fair presidential and legislative elections in late 2010 and early 2011. These elections paved the way for the complete re-establishment of all three branches of government. The U.S. provided capacity building support, including the provision of experts to work within the Government of Haiti and the provision of temporary office space.

We examined the U.S. government’s “support” for these elections – and its idea of what “free and fair” means – in depth in this blog at the time, and in several research papers.

Members of the U.S. Congress also issued statements today, with Rep. John Conyers (D – MI) saying in part:

Moving forward, the United States needs to recommit itself to ensuring that all aid funding to Haiti is allocated in a transparent manner and in close consultation with Haitian authorities and civil society beneficiaries.  It is also incumbent upon the international community to fulfill its commitments to the people of Haiti made in the months following the earthquake. 

And Rep. Alcee Hastings calling for the creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.

For its part, the Haitian government is planning a “subdued” memorial at the grounds of the former national palace tomorrow.

Where did the money go?

A piece by human rights attorney Bill Quigley on Huffington Post is one of many (our own is here) to provide an overview of the situation in Haiti three years after the earthquake. Quigley writes:

Despite an outpouring of global compassion, some estimate as high as $3 billion in individual donations and another $6 billion in governmental assistance, too little has changed. Part of the problem is that the international community and non-government organizations (Haiti has sometimes been called the Republic of NGOs) has bypassed Haitian non-governmental agencies and the Haitian government itself. The Center for Global Development analysis of where they money went concluded that overall less than 10 percent went to the government of Haiti and less than 1 percent went to Haitian organizations and businesses. A full one-third of the humanitarian funding for Haiti was actually returned to donor countries to reimburse them for their own civil and military work in the country and the majority of the rest went to international NGOs and private contractors.

BuzzFeed has a stunning aid-waste-by-the-anecdote look at “where billions in aid money from around the world” went, saying:

Most of it never touched Haitian hands.

Instead, it went to foreign contractors charged with rebuilding the country, as well as unexplained perks for Americans like a deep-fat fryer.

Cholera:

Jonathan Katz has a new piece in Foreign Policy with an eyewitness account of the UN’s negligence in causing the cholera epidemic, writing that “After natural disasters, survivors, responders, and journalists tend to assume that a disease epidemic may be imminent, due to the collapse of sanitation or simply the feeling that misery comes in bunches.” But as Katz describes, there was nothing “imminent” or “inevitable” about a cholera outbreak. He notes:

In fact, researchers have consistently found that the risk of post-disaster epidemics is wildly overstated. A team of French researchers has found that out of more than 600 disasters between 1985 and 2004, only three resulted in significant outbreaks of disease. The risk is only slightly larger when large numbers of people are displaced.

Katz also did an interview with Democracy Now this morning on his new book – from which his FP article is adapted – on the failures of the relief and reconstruction effort, The Big Truck That Went By.

Over 25,000 people have now signed a petition started by filmmaker Oliver Stone calling for the U.N. to take responsibility for the epidemic.

Housing:

Amnesty International issued a press release saying “Three years on from the Haiti earthquake the housing situation in the country is nothing short of catastrophic with hundreds of thousands of people still living in fragile shelters,” and urging “the authorities and the international community to make housing a priority.” Amnesty highlighted the conditions in IDP camps:

According to testimonies gathered by Amnesty International in Haiti, living conditions in the makeshift camps are worsening – with severe lack of access to water, sanitation and waste disposal – all of which have contributed to the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera.

Women and girls are vulnerable to sexual assault and rape.

“As if being exposed to insecurity, diseases and hurricanes were not enough, many people living in makeshifts camps are also living under the constant fear of being forcibly evicted,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

A statement by the Collective to Defend the Right to Housing today asks “January 12, 2013: What are the Memories? Where are the Lessons?”

Successes:

Some have suggested that recent commentaries on the relief and reconstruction effort in Haiti have focused too much on the negative. Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux today offered some examples of successes:

We have seen tremendous progress in the justice system’s ability and willingness to respond to gender-based violence since the earthquake. Our office had trials in seven rape cases in 2012, and all resulted in convictions. These cases worked because grassroots women’s groups made them work. Poor women and girl victims of rape are some of the most marginalized in the world, but they were able to work within a challenged justice system to enforce their own rights. This is what building back better looks like.

And the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti’s Beatrice Lindstrom added, “This progress is sus­tain­able and has a rip­ple effect. Every­one involved has improved advo­cacy skills that can be used the rest of their lives. Pros­e­cut­ing rape frees women to par­tic­i­pate more fully in Haiti’s eco­nomic, polit­i­cal and social spheres. That ben­e­fits the women, their fam­i­lies and the coun­try.”

Media coverage:

One aspect of the international response to Haiti over the past three years that has been little considered in the major media is the racism, stereotyping and prejudices included in much of the media coverage itself. A study by University of Connecticut professors and students examines how Haiti’s depiction in the U.S. media may affect Americans’ approach to aid:

The media play a prominent role in shaping public perception of foreign countries, and such stereotypes of Haiti can often be found across the spectrum of the U.S. media, according to UConn professor of public policy Thomas Craemer. This is a problem, he says, not only because those epithets can paint a misleading picture, but because they can also affect how American citizens and governments act.

“I think there is a chance that these stereotypes can affect foreign aid and foreign policy,” Craemer says.

An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor today begins:

The third anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, has not drawn much attention. This is despite the fact that 1 out of every 2 Americans donated money to the relief and thousands of people from around the world volunteered to rebuild the Caribbean nation.

The reason is that the hope of “rebuilding Haiti better” after this particularly big natural disaster is, well, still largely a hope.

It is true that the sad anniversary has received less attention this year; there have been fewer TV crews flying down to Haiti, for one thing, and apparently less attention on Haiti this time by national and local radio programs. Other “three years later” pieces have already run in papers such as the New York Times and the Miami Herald.

Here’s a sampling of some of the news, reporting and commentary posted today and yesterday.

First, the European Union announced today that it would provide an additional €30.5 ($40.69) million to Haiti, saying “This new money will mainly help those still homeless as a result of the earthquake, cholera victims and those badly affected by Hurricane Sandy.”

The U.S. State Department issued a statement celebrating what it described as “more than three and a half years” of “work[ing] closely to be a good partner to the government and people of Haiti.”

Among these are that

The United States and other donors supported the Government of Haiti’s free and fair presidential and legislative elections in late 2010 and early 2011. These elections paved the way for the complete re-establishment of all three branches of government. The U.S. provided capacity building support, including the provision of experts to work within the Government of Haiti and the provision of temporary office space.

We examined the U.S. government’s “support” for these elections – and its idea of what “free and fair” means – in depth in this blog at the time, and in several research papers.

Members of the U.S. Congress also issued statements today, with Rep. John Conyers (D – MI) saying in part:

Moving forward, the United States needs to recommit itself to ensuring that all aid funding to Haiti is allocated in a transparent manner and in close consultation with Haitian authorities and civil society beneficiaries.  It is also incumbent upon the international community to fulfill its commitments to the people of Haiti made in the months following the earthquake. 

And Rep. Alcee Hastings calling for the creation of a Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program.

For its part, the Haitian government is planning a “subdued” memorial at the grounds of the former national palace tomorrow.

Where did the money go?

A piece by human rights attorney Bill Quigley on Huffington Post is one of many (our own is here) to provide an overview of the situation in Haiti three years after the earthquake. Quigley writes:

Despite an outpouring of global compassion, some estimate as high as $3 billion in individual donations and another $6 billion in governmental assistance, too little has changed. Part of the problem is that the international community and non-government organizations (Haiti has sometimes been called the Republic of NGOs) has bypassed Haitian non-governmental agencies and the Haitian government itself. The Center for Global Development analysis of where they money went concluded that overall less than 10 percent went to the government of Haiti and less than 1 percent went to Haitian organizations and businesses. A full one-third of the humanitarian funding for Haiti was actually returned to donor countries to reimburse them for their own civil and military work in the country and the majority of the rest went to international NGOs and private contractors.

BuzzFeed has a stunning aid-waste-by-the-anecdote look at “where billions in aid money from around the world” went, saying:

Most of it never touched Haitian hands.

Instead, it went to foreign contractors charged with rebuilding the country, as well as unexplained perks for Americans like a deep-fat fryer.

Cholera:

Jonathan Katz has a new piece in Foreign Policy with an eyewitness account of the UN’s negligence in causing the cholera epidemic, writing that “After natural disasters, survivors, responders, and journalists tend to assume that a disease epidemic may be imminent, due to the collapse of sanitation or simply the feeling that misery comes in bunches.” But as Katz describes, there was nothing “imminent” or “inevitable” about a cholera outbreak. He notes:

In fact, researchers have consistently found that the risk of post-disaster epidemics is wildly overstated. A team of French researchers has found that out of more than 600 disasters between 1985 and 2004, only three resulted in significant outbreaks of disease. The risk is only slightly larger when large numbers of people are displaced.

Katz also did an interview with Democracy Now this morning on his new book – from which his FP article is adapted – on the failures of the relief and reconstruction effort, The Big Truck That Went By.

Over 25,000 people have now signed a petition started by filmmaker Oliver Stone calling for the U.N. to take responsibility for the epidemic.

Housing:

Amnesty International issued a press release saying “Three years on from the Haiti earthquake the housing situation in the country is nothing short of catastrophic with hundreds of thousands of people still living in fragile shelters,” and urging “the authorities and the international community to make housing a priority.” Amnesty highlighted the conditions in IDP camps:

According to testimonies gathered by Amnesty International in Haiti, living conditions in the makeshift camps are worsening – with severe lack of access to water, sanitation and waste disposal – all of which have contributed to the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera.

Women and girls are vulnerable to sexual assault and rape.

“As if being exposed to insecurity, diseases and hurricanes were not enough, many people living in makeshifts camps are also living under the constant fear of being forcibly evicted,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

A statement by the Collective to Defend the Right to Housing today asks “January 12, 2013: What are the Memories? Where are the Lessons?”

Successes:

Some have suggested that recent commentaries on the relief and reconstruction effort in Haiti have focused too much on the negative. Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux today offered some examples of successes:

We have seen tremendous progress in the justice system’s ability and willingness to respond to gender-based violence since the earthquake. Our office had trials in seven rape cases in 2012, and all resulted in convictions. These cases worked because grassroots women’s groups made them work. Poor women and girl victims of rape are some of the most marginalized in the world, but they were able to work within a challenged justice system to enforce their own rights. This is what building back better looks like.

And the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti’s Beatrice Lindstrom added, “This progress is sus­tain­able and has a rip­ple effect. Every­one involved has improved advo­cacy skills that can be used the rest of their lives. Pros­e­cut­ing rape frees women to par­tic­i­pate more fully in Haiti’s eco­nomic, polit­i­cal and social spheres. That ben­e­fits the women, their fam­i­lies and the coun­try.”

Media coverage:

One aspect of the international response to Haiti over the past three years that has been little considered in the major media is the racism, stereotyping and prejudices included in much of the media coverage itself. A study by University of Connecticut professors and students examines how Haiti’s depiction in the U.S. media may affect Americans’ approach to aid:

The media play a prominent role in shaping public perception of foreign countries, and such stereotypes of Haiti can often be found across the spectrum of the U.S. media, according to UConn professor of public policy Thomas Craemer. This is a problem, he says, not only because those epithets can paint a misleading picture, but because they can also affect how American citizens and governments act.

“I think there is a chance that these stereotypes can affect foreign aid and foreign policy,” Craemer says.

En français

Number of people killed in the earthquake in 2010: over 217,300

Number of people killed by cholera epidemic caused by U.N. troops since October 19, 2010: over 7,912 [i]

Number of cholera cases worldwide in 2010 and 2011: 906,632

Percent of worldwide cholera cases that were in Haiti in those years: 57

Total number of cholera cases in Haiti from 2010-2012: 635,980 [ii]

Days Since Cholera Was Introduced in Haiti Without an Apology From the U.N.: 813

Percent of the population that lacks access to “improved” drinking water: 42

Funding needed for U.N./CDC/Haitian government 10-year cholera eradication plan: $2.2 billion

Percent of $2.2 billion which the U.N. pledged to provide: 1

Percent of $2.2 billion that the U.N. has spent on MINUSTAH[iii] since the earthquake: 87

Amount disbursed by bilateral and multilateral donors to Haiti from 2010-2012: $6.43 billion

Percent that went through the Haitian government: 9

Amount the Haitian government has received in budget support over this time: $302.69 million

Amount the American Red Cross raised for Haiti: $486 million

Amount of budget support to the Haitian government in 2009, the year before the earthquake: $93.60 million

Amount of budget support to the Haitian government in 2011, the year after the earthquake: $67.93 million

Number of dollars, out of every $100 spent in humanitarian relief, that went to the Haitian government: 1

Value of all contracts awarded by USAID since the earthquake: $485.5 million [iv]

Percent of contracts that has gone to local Haitian firms: 1.2 [v]

Percent of contracts that has gone to firms inside the beltway (DC, Maryland, Virginia): 67.6 [vi]

Number of people displaced from their homes by the earthquake: 1.5 million

Number of people still in displaced persons camps today: 358,000

Percent that have left camps due to relocation programs by the Haitian government and international agencies: 25

Share of camp residents facing a constant threat of forced eviction: 1 in 5

Number of transitional shelters built by aid agencies since the earthquake: 110,964

Percent of transitional shelters that went to camp residents: 23

Number of new houses constructed since the earthquake: 5,911

Number of houses marked “red”, meaning they were in need of demolition: 100,178

Number of houses marked “yellow”, meaning they were in need of repairs to make safe enough to live in: 146,004

Estimated number of people living in houses marked either “yellow” or “red”: 1 million

Number of houses that have actually been repaired: 18,725

Percent growth of the Haitian economy (GDP) in 2012, predicted by the IMF in April 2011: 8.8

Actual percent growth of the Haitian economy (GDP) in 2012: 2.5

U.N. Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) funding appeal for 2013: $144 million

Percent of last year’s OCHA appeal that was actually funded: 40

Funding committed by the U.S. Government for the Caracol industrial park: $124 million

Share of U.S. funds earmarked for “reconstruction” that this represents: 1/4th

Cost of building 750 houses near the Caracol park for workers: $20 million

Cost of building 86-100 houses for U.S. Embassy staff: $85 – 100 million

Share of garment factories in Haiti found to be out of compliance with minimum wage requirements: 21 of 22

Number of garment factories that have lost preferential tariff benefits to the U.S. because of labor violations: 0



[i] According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, based on reported cases. The actual number is probably much higher.

[ii] According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, based on reported cases. The actual number is probably much higher.

[iii] The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, comprised mostly of military troops and police officers. U.N. troops were responsible for causing the cholera epidemic, according to scientific studies.

[iv] Authors’ calculations based on information in Federal Procurement Data System.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

En français

Number of people killed in the earthquake in 2010: over 217,300

Number of people killed by cholera epidemic caused by U.N. troops since October 19, 2010: over 7,912 [i]

Number of cholera cases worldwide in 2010 and 2011: 906,632

Percent of worldwide cholera cases that were in Haiti in those years: 57

Total number of cholera cases in Haiti from 2010-2012: 635,980 [ii]

Days Since Cholera Was Introduced in Haiti Without an Apology From the U.N.: 813

Percent of the population that lacks access to “improved” drinking water: 42

Funding needed for U.N./CDC/Haitian government 10-year cholera eradication plan: $2.2 billion

Percent of $2.2 billion which the U.N. pledged to provide: 1

Percent of $2.2 billion that the U.N. has spent on MINUSTAH[iii] since the earthquake: 87

Amount disbursed by bilateral and multilateral donors to Haiti from 2010-2012: $6.43 billion

Percent that went through the Haitian government: 9

Amount the Haitian government has received in budget support over this time: $302.69 million

Amount the American Red Cross raised for Haiti: $486 million

Amount of budget support to the Haitian government in 2009, the year before the earthquake: $93.60 million

Amount of budget support to the Haitian government in 2011, the year after the earthquake: $67.93 million

Number of dollars, out of every $100 spent in humanitarian relief, that went to the Haitian government: 1

Value of all contracts awarded by USAID since the earthquake: $485.5 million [iv]

Percent of contracts that has gone to local Haitian firms: 1.2 [v]

Percent of contracts that has gone to firms inside the beltway (DC, Maryland, Virginia): 67.6 [vi]

Number of people displaced from their homes by the earthquake: 1.5 million

Number of people still in displaced persons camps today: 358,000

Percent that have left camps due to relocation programs by the Haitian government and international agencies: 25

Share of camp residents facing a constant threat of forced eviction: 1 in 5

Number of transitional shelters built by aid agencies since the earthquake: 110,964

Percent of transitional shelters that went to camp residents: 23

Number of new houses constructed since the earthquake: 5,911

Number of houses marked “red”, meaning they were in need of demolition: 100,178

Number of houses marked “yellow”, meaning they were in need of repairs to make safe enough to live in: 146,004

Estimated number of people living in houses marked either “yellow” or “red”: 1 million

Number of houses that have actually been repaired: 18,725

Percent growth of the Haitian economy (GDP) in 2012, predicted by the IMF in April 2011: 8.8

Actual percent growth of the Haitian economy (GDP) in 2012: 2.5

U.N. Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) funding appeal for 2013: $144 million

Percent of last year’s OCHA appeal that was actually funded: 40

Funding committed by the U.S. Government for the Caracol industrial park: $124 million

Share of U.S. funds earmarked for “reconstruction” that this represents: 1/4th

Cost of building 750 houses near the Caracol park for workers: $20 million

Cost of building 86-100 houses for U.S. Embassy staff: $85 – 100 million

Share of garment factories in Haiti found to be out of compliance with minimum wage requirements: 21 of 22

Number of garment factories that have lost preferential tariff benefits to the U.S. because of labor violations: 0



[i] According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, based on reported cases. The actual number is probably much higher.

[ii] According to the Haitian Ministry of Health, based on reported cases. The actual number is probably much higher.

[iii] The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, comprised mostly of military troops and police officers. U.N. troops were responsible for causing the cholera epidemic, according to scientific studies.

[iv] Authors’ calculations based on information in Federal Procurement Data System.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

The American Red Cross has issued a new progress report on its work in Haiti since the earthquake, describing how it has used the $486 million USD that it has raised. The report, while brief, and still vague in some places, seems to be intended in part as a response to recent criticism the organization has received over the pace and efficacy of its spending. ARC President and CEO Gail McGovern writes:

At this point, virtually all of the money donated to the American Red Cross has been spent, committed or allocated for planned housing and neighborhood recovery, health, clean water and sanitation and disaster preparedness projects. A relatively small amount of unallocated money—or 4 percent of all donations received—is held in reserve for unanticipated or emerging needs. That’s because even as we focus on long-term recovery, we must at the same time respond to cholera outbreaks and disasters in Haiti such as Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy.

By “virtually all,” McGovern means 85 percent, or $415 million, 33 percent of which it says it has “spent and committed” to “housing and neighborhood recovery”; 16 percent each to emergency relief and health, respectively; 12 percent to water and sanitation; 11 percent to disaster preparedness and risk reduction; 8 percent to “livelihoods” (undefined in the report, but previously described as including “grants, jobs and other help”); and 4 percent to cholera.

The report contains several anecdotal stories, but also some additional useful information. For example, the ARC says “We provided more than 72 percent of the funds needed for the distribution of a cholera vaccine, which more than 90,000 Haitians received this year.” It also notes that “we helped fund the construction of Mirebalais Teaching Hospital and partnered with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to rebuild a prosthetics and physical rehabilitation center.” Less useful is the statement “the American Red Cross has also spent more than $50 million on projects that have improved access to clean water and sanitation for 545,000 people,” where “improved access” is not further defined.

The ARC notes that “we have helped build, upgrade or repair more than 14,000 transitional and permanent homes for more than 70,000 people, and have helped more than 20,000 people transition out of camps by subsidizing rents,” but does not differentiate between the “transitional” and “permanent” dwellings, nor does it provide additional information on what people who have “transition[ed] out of camps” have done after leaving, how they live and whether their new situations are sustainable and will allow them to have a dignified, safe and healthy quality of life – even in the near term. The lumping together of “transitional” and “permanent” dwellings is especially problematic since, as so many residents and observers have noted, in many cases “transitional” shelters have become de facto “permanent.”

Then there is the lack of clarity over what the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) has done, versus the American arm. While the ARC says it has “helped” to move over 20,000 individuals out of camps with rental subsidies, the most recent information from the Shelter Cluster says the ARC itself has only given out 103 subsidies, while the IFRC has given out over 5,000.

While the American Red Cross has been the biggest U.S. recipient of individuals’ donations for post-quake Haiti, it states that it has only provided shelter for less than 0.05 percent of the 1.5 million people estimated to have originally been left homeless by the earthquake. The 70,000 people the ARC says it has housed would still only be about 19 percent of the total number of people who remain in IDP camps three years after the quake. This is despite the fact that the ARC states that housing has been the biggest sector of funds “spent and committed.” Housing is the area that the ARC identifies as having the farthest to go toward reaching its “Program Objectives” (at 70 percent so far); however, at this rate the rest of the planned “housing and neighborhood recovery” program will still only affect a small number of Haiti’s IDP’s. This raises the question: why isn’t the program more ambitious? Shouldn’t the goal be to provide housing for all the remaining homeless?

Some of these questions – as well as whether the ARC’s money could be used more efficiently – could be answered with more transparency. As we have noted in the past, the Red Cross has granted some of its funds to other organizations, but has been quiet about amounts and recipients. We cited a Chronicle of Philanthropy article a year ago:

The charity has so far pledged or spent $330-million of the $486-million it received. About $171-million has been committed to other nonprofits. A spokeswoman declined to specify what share has actually gone out the door but said it was the majority of the $330-million.

In its new report, the ARC states, “An average of 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.” But can it be sure there is only 9 percent overhead when it effectively contracts out its work?

The American Red Cross has issued a new progress report on its work in Haiti since the earthquake, describing how it has used the $486 million USD that it has raised. The report, while brief, and still vague in some places, seems to be intended in part as a response to recent criticism the organization has received over the pace and efficacy of its spending. ARC President and CEO Gail McGovern writes:

At this point, virtually all of the money donated to the American Red Cross has been spent, committed or allocated for planned housing and neighborhood recovery, health, clean water and sanitation and disaster preparedness projects. A relatively small amount of unallocated money—or 4 percent of all donations received—is held in reserve for unanticipated or emerging needs. That’s because even as we focus on long-term recovery, we must at the same time respond to cholera outbreaks and disasters in Haiti such as Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Sandy.

By “virtually all,” McGovern means 85 percent, or $415 million, 33 percent of which it says it has “spent and committed” to “housing and neighborhood recovery”; 16 percent each to emergency relief and health, respectively; 12 percent to water and sanitation; 11 percent to disaster preparedness and risk reduction; 8 percent to “livelihoods” (undefined in the report, but previously described as including “grants, jobs and other help”); and 4 percent to cholera.

The report contains several anecdotal stories, but also some additional useful information. For example, the ARC says “We provided more than 72 percent of the funds needed for the distribution of a cholera vaccine, which more than 90,000 Haitians received this year.” It also notes that “we helped fund the construction of Mirebalais Teaching Hospital and partnered with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to rebuild a prosthetics and physical rehabilitation center.” Less useful is the statement “the American Red Cross has also spent more than $50 million on projects that have improved access to clean water and sanitation for 545,000 people,” where “improved access” is not further defined.

The ARC notes that “we have helped build, upgrade or repair more than 14,000 transitional and permanent homes for more than 70,000 people, and have helped more than 20,000 people transition out of camps by subsidizing rents,” but does not differentiate between the “transitional” and “permanent” dwellings, nor does it provide additional information on what people who have “transition[ed] out of camps” have done after leaving, how they live and whether their new situations are sustainable and will allow them to have a dignified, safe and healthy quality of life – even in the near term. The lumping together of “transitional” and “permanent” dwellings is especially problematic since, as so many residents and observers have noted, in many cases “transitional” shelters have become de facto “permanent.”

Then there is the lack of clarity over what the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) has done, versus the American arm. While the ARC says it has “helped” to move over 20,000 individuals out of camps with rental subsidies, the most recent information from the Shelter Cluster says the ARC itself has only given out 103 subsidies, while the IFRC has given out over 5,000.

While the American Red Cross has been the biggest U.S. recipient of individuals’ donations for post-quake Haiti, it states that it has only provided shelter for less than 0.05 percent of the 1.5 million people estimated to have originally been left homeless by the earthquake. The 70,000 people the ARC says it has housed would still only be about 19 percent of the total number of people who remain in IDP camps three years after the quake. This is despite the fact that the ARC states that housing has been the biggest sector of funds “spent and committed.” Housing is the area that the ARC identifies as having the farthest to go toward reaching its “Program Objectives” (at 70 percent so far); however, at this rate the rest of the planned “housing and neighborhood recovery” program will still only affect a small number of Haiti’s IDP’s. This raises the question: why isn’t the program more ambitious? Shouldn’t the goal be to provide housing for all the remaining homeless?

Some of these questions – as well as whether the ARC’s money could be used more efficiently – could be answered with more transparency. As we have noted in the past, the Red Cross has granted some of its funds to other organizations, but has been quiet about amounts and recipients. We cited a Chronicle of Philanthropy article a year ago:

The charity has so far pledged or spent $330-million of the $486-million it received. About $171-million has been committed to other nonprofits. A spokeswoman declined to specify what share has actually gone out the door but said it was the majority of the $330-million.

In its new report, the ARC states, “An average of 91 cents of every dollar the American Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.” But can it be sure there is only 9 percent overhead when it effectively contracts out its work?

Over the next month, Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch blogger and CEPR International Research Associate, Jake Johnston will be in Haiti following up, on the ground, many of the issues this blog has covered since the earthquake nearly three years ago.

Port-au-Prince – In the last thirteen months, the “official” total of displaced persons in Haiti has decreased by 35 percent and over 300 camps have been closed. One could be forgiven for thinking the decrease was even larger. The sprawling tent camp near the airport, for everyone entering Haiti to see, as well as the Champ de Mars camp, are no longer. With their closure, some of the most visible signs of the stalled reconstruction effort have been erased.  As the three-year commemoration of the earthquake approaches, the reduction in the IDP population will undoubtedly be touted as one of the great successes of the relief and reconstruction effort. And yet an estimated 360,000 Haitians remain in official tent camps.

Those who remain may not be as visible; many are tucked behind high walls and off main streets but their situation remains just as dire and continues to deteriorate. The most recent OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin notes that those who remain in the camps “face worsening living conditions, as humanitarian partners pull out as a result of lack of funding.” It is estimated that at least 230,000 will still be in the camps at this time next year.

For those that have left the camps, little is known about their current status. According to OCHA, over 250,000 have left the camps due to resettlement programs, yet there has been no systematic tracking of what has happened to them. The government’s flagship relocation program, “16/6”, began over a year ago, meaning the one-year rental subsidies offered to camp residents have already run out, or will in the next few months. One former resident of the Champ de Mars camp said that his subsidy will run out next month, and with no steady employment, he expects to be back on the street soon. If so, he, and others in similar situations, would likely fall outside of the “official” camp population.

Some studies by actors involved in rental subsidy programs have shown high rates of success concerning families finding housing even after the one-year is up. The International Federation of the Red Cross, for example found that, of 354 families whose rental subsidy had run out, 63 percent had stayed in their apartment, while only 10 percent could not be found. Nevertheless, there is a need for further research on what will happen to families once their yearly rental ends. A greater focus from all involved in relocation on the long-term impacts of their programs is urgently needed.

There is also evidence that the rental subsidy option could be nearing its end. In April, studies by aid agencies estimated the amount of available rental options to be roughly 19,000 in the metropolitan Port-au-Prince area. The studies led the Shelter Cluster to recommend an increase in the rental return programs. But since that study, over 10,000 additional families have received the subsidy, meaning that the possibility of further camp population reduction through the program could be limited.

While the rental subsidy and other return programs have had limited success in reducing the number of camp residents, the long-term impacts could be extremely dangerous. Further, it remains clear that the vast majority of those that have left the “official” camps did so not because of return programs, but because of deplorable living conditions or (sometimes very violent) forced evictions. As can be seen in the table below, only 25 percent of the reduction in the camp population can be attributed to relocation efforts. For the remaining 880,000, little is known, though it is clear on the ground that there has been a proliferation of informal camps, outside the purview of the “official” totals. Of those who remain in the camps, some 80,000 are under constant threat of eviction.

Camp Reduction Relocation
Source: E-Shelter-CCCM December 2012 Fact Sheet.

One effort to follow up with former camp residents was undertaken by Mark Schuller of Northern Illinois University and in coordination with the Faculté d’Ethnologie at l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti. Only one in seven of those surveyed had left the camps due to receiving money, usually from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or an NGO. This is even fewer than those who responded that they had left the camps due to a forced eviction (one in six). Overall, Schuller found that “the data do not point to a clear answer that after one of the largest and best funded humanitarian efforts in recent history, people are better off now than before the earthquake.”

One of the largest impediments to better livelihoods identified by Schuller was that the neighborhood revitalization programs that were supposed to accompany the relocations have yet to show results. It is possible that the influx of new residents into neighborhoods, which were already strained by the earthquake, is making them even more vulnerable to the next disaster. The $65 million dollar World Bank “Port au Prince Neighborhood Housing Reconstruction” project, partially funded by the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, has only disbursed $5 million as of November, and won’t be completed until 2015 at the earliest.

Over the next month, Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch blogger and CEPR International Research Associate, Jake Johnston will be in Haiti following up, on the ground, many of the issues this blog has covered since the earthquake nearly three years ago.

Port-au-Prince – In the last thirteen months, the “official” total of displaced persons in Haiti has decreased by 35 percent and over 300 camps have been closed. One could be forgiven for thinking the decrease was even larger. The sprawling tent camp near the airport, for everyone entering Haiti to see, as well as the Champ de Mars camp, are no longer. With their closure, some of the most visible signs of the stalled reconstruction effort have been erased.  As the three-year commemoration of the earthquake approaches, the reduction in the IDP population will undoubtedly be touted as one of the great successes of the relief and reconstruction effort. And yet an estimated 360,000 Haitians remain in official tent camps.

Those who remain may not be as visible; many are tucked behind high walls and off main streets but their situation remains just as dire and continues to deteriorate. The most recent OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin notes that those who remain in the camps “face worsening living conditions, as humanitarian partners pull out as a result of lack of funding.” It is estimated that at least 230,000 will still be in the camps at this time next year.

For those that have left the camps, little is known about their current status. According to OCHA, over 250,000 have left the camps due to resettlement programs, yet there has been no systematic tracking of what has happened to them. The government’s flagship relocation program, “16/6”, began over a year ago, meaning the one-year rental subsidies offered to camp residents have already run out, or will in the next few months. One former resident of the Champ de Mars camp said that his subsidy will run out next month, and with no steady employment, he expects to be back on the street soon. If so, he, and others in similar situations, would likely fall outside of the “official” camp population.

Some studies by actors involved in rental subsidy programs have shown high rates of success concerning families finding housing even after the one-year is up. The International Federation of the Red Cross, for example found that, of 354 families whose rental subsidy had run out, 63 percent had stayed in their apartment, while only 10 percent could not be found. Nevertheless, there is a need for further research on what will happen to families once their yearly rental ends. A greater focus from all involved in relocation on the long-term impacts of their programs is urgently needed.

There is also evidence that the rental subsidy option could be nearing its end. In April, studies by aid agencies estimated the amount of available rental options to be roughly 19,000 in the metropolitan Port-au-Prince area. The studies led the Shelter Cluster to recommend an increase in the rental return programs. But since that study, over 10,000 additional families have received the subsidy, meaning that the possibility of further camp population reduction through the program could be limited.

While the rental subsidy and other return programs have had limited success in reducing the number of camp residents, the long-term impacts could be extremely dangerous. Further, it remains clear that the vast majority of those that have left the “official” camps did so not because of return programs, but because of deplorable living conditions or (sometimes very violent) forced evictions. As can be seen in the table below, only 25 percent of the reduction in the camp population can be attributed to relocation efforts. For the remaining 880,000, little is known, though it is clear on the ground that there has been a proliferation of informal camps, outside the purview of the “official” totals. Of those who remain in the camps, some 80,000 are under constant threat of eviction.

Camp Reduction Relocation
Source: E-Shelter-CCCM December 2012 Fact Sheet.

One effort to follow up with former camp residents was undertaken by Mark Schuller of Northern Illinois University and in coordination with the Faculté d’Ethnologie at l’Université d’Etat d’Haïti. Only one in seven of those surveyed had left the camps due to receiving money, usually from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) or an NGO. This is even fewer than those who responded that they had left the camps due to a forced eviction (one in six). Overall, Schuller found that “the data do not point to a clear answer that after one of the largest and best funded humanitarian efforts in recent history, people are better off now than before the earthquake.”

One of the largest impediments to better livelihoods identified by Schuller was that the neighborhood revitalization programs that were supposed to accompany the relocations have yet to show results. It is possible that the influx of new residents into neighborhoods, which were already strained by the earthquake, is making them even more vulnerable to the next disaster. The $65 million dollar World Bank “Port au Prince Neighborhood Housing Reconstruction” project, partially funded by the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, has only disbursed $5 million as of November, and won’t be completed until 2015 at the earliest.

January 1 was the anniversary of Haiti’s independence, and another marker – the third year since the earthquake – is coming up at the end of next week. Media outlets are examining what has been achieved – and what hasn’t – over the past three years.

The New York Times’ Deborah Sontag had a major, must-read feature article based on her investigative look at the shortcomings of the aid and reconstruction efforts, examining the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the agency and NGO coordination “clusters” and the Caracol industrial park, among other aspects. She also reports on contractors such as Chemonics, one that has been scrutinized by this blog repeatedly:

One American taxpayer-financed program, scrutinized by the Agency for International Development’s inspector general, was intended to provide short-term jobs for Haitians and to remove significant rubble. But the program, and in particular the work carried out by two Beltway-based firms, was less than successful on both fronts, the inspector general said: It generated only a third of the jobs anticipated and it appeared to demonstrate that using manual labor to clear debris was so inefficient as to slow the rebuilding effort.

One of the firms, Chemonics International, which was awarded $150 million in post-earthquake contracts, built a $1.9 million temporary home for the Haitian Parliament. The American ambassador presented it as a gift to Haitian democracy, but many legislators were more irked than thankful because the building was delivered devoid of interior walls and furnishings, as The Global Post reported, and it took almost half a year to scrounge together the money to finish it.

The New York Times editorial board weighed in yesterday with a lengthy editorial decrying the failures of the reconstruction process, and also highlighting the ongoing cholera epidemic caused by the UN, concluding:

A recently announced 10-year and $2.2 billion effort to rid Haiti and the Dominican Republic of cholera by improving water and sanitation will require close coordination among the Haitian government, the United Nations, United States and other partners. Senator John Kerry, who has paid astute attention to Haitian issues in the Senate, will be well placed to do so if he becomes the next secretary of state. As long as the miseries continue, the need for the world to get this right remains.

Elsewhere, Ian Birrell sounds similar themes in The Guardian:

But, as the anniversary approaches, it is evident that many good intentions imploded at the expense of the people they were meant to help. Haiti stands as the latest sad example of how self-aggrandising assumptions of the global aid industry can backfire so badly. The humanitarian business should reflect hard on the failures.

After the disaster the international response was impressive. People watching horror play out in primetime donated nearly £2bn to charities; governments and official institutions pledged another £6bn. Although huge amounts still sit in bank accounts – the Red Cross alone has £310m, more than twice the total spent on permanent housing – £5.6bn has been disbursed.

But, as Sontag writes in her December 23 article, “disbursed does not necessarily meant spent. Sometimes, it simply means the money has been shifted from one bank account to another as projects have gotten bogged down. That is the case for nearly half the money for housing.”

Birrell writes:

Little wonder there is anger among local people, who were left so badly placed when hurricane Sandy struck two months ago. From the start of relief efforts in 2010 there was chaos, with hundreds of aid groups from all over the world flooding in. There had to be dozens of co-ordinating meetings each week, invariably held in English rather than French or Creole, underlining the exclusion of Haitians from the rebuilding of their own country.

The voices of local people were ignored by arrogant outsiders, undermining accountability and sustainable development. As the Centre for Global Development reported this month, only a shameful 0.6% of the money spent by bilateral and multilateral donors was given to Haitian charities and businesses. Meanwhile an estimated 40% went on supporting all the foreigners dispensing aid, with their inflated housing allowances, vehicles and drivers.

A response to Birrell’s op-ed from Jane Cocking of Oxfam UK takes issue with some of his assertions, noting that “Aid agencies are present because there is abject poverty. It does not follow that they have caused that poverty.” Unfortunately, Cocking’s letter does not recognize important points that Birrell makes – many of them also examined in Sontag’s article and in the Times editorial – that aid in Haiti has long been ill-coordinated, side-stepping the Haitian government, which it has weakened in the process — or that Haitians needed, and need, to be central to the relief and rebuilding process, from the government on down to the workers carrying out the projects.

January 1 was the anniversary of Haiti’s independence, and another marker – the third year since the earthquake – is coming up at the end of next week. Media outlets are examining what has been achieved – and what hasn’t – over the past three years.

The New York Times’ Deborah Sontag had a major, must-read feature article based on her investigative look at the shortcomings of the aid and reconstruction efforts, examining the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the agency and NGO coordination “clusters” and the Caracol industrial park, among other aspects. She also reports on contractors such as Chemonics, one that has been scrutinized by this blog repeatedly:

One American taxpayer-financed program, scrutinized by the Agency for International Development’s inspector general, was intended to provide short-term jobs for Haitians and to remove significant rubble. But the program, and in particular the work carried out by two Beltway-based firms, was less than successful on both fronts, the inspector general said: It generated only a third of the jobs anticipated and it appeared to demonstrate that using manual labor to clear debris was so inefficient as to slow the rebuilding effort.

One of the firms, Chemonics International, which was awarded $150 million in post-earthquake contracts, built a $1.9 million temporary home for the Haitian Parliament. The American ambassador presented it as a gift to Haitian democracy, but many legislators were more irked than thankful because the building was delivered devoid of interior walls and furnishings, as The Global Post reported, and it took almost half a year to scrounge together the money to finish it.

The New York Times editorial board weighed in yesterday with a lengthy editorial decrying the failures of the reconstruction process, and also highlighting the ongoing cholera epidemic caused by the UN, concluding:

A recently announced 10-year and $2.2 billion effort to rid Haiti and the Dominican Republic of cholera by improving water and sanitation will require close coordination among the Haitian government, the United Nations, United States and other partners. Senator John Kerry, who has paid astute attention to Haitian issues in the Senate, will be well placed to do so if he becomes the next secretary of state. As long as the miseries continue, the need for the world to get this right remains.

Elsewhere, Ian Birrell sounds similar themes in The Guardian:

But, as the anniversary approaches, it is evident that many good intentions imploded at the expense of the people they were meant to help. Haiti stands as the latest sad example of how self-aggrandising assumptions of the global aid industry can backfire so badly. The humanitarian business should reflect hard on the failures.

After the disaster the international response was impressive. People watching horror play out in primetime donated nearly £2bn to charities; governments and official institutions pledged another £6bn. Although huge amounts still sit in bank accounts – the Red Cross alone has £310m, more than twice the total spent on permanent housing – £5.6bn has been disbursed.

But, as Sontag writes in her December 23 article, “disbursed does not necessarily meant spent. Sometimes, it simply means the money has been shifted from one bank account to another as projects have gotten bogged down. That is the case for nearly half the money for housing.”

Birrell writes:

Little wonder there is anger among local people, who were left so badly placed when hurricane Sandy struck two months ago. From the start of relief efforts in 2010 there was chaos, with hundreds of aid groups from all over the world flooding in. There had to be dozens of co-ordinating meetings each week, invariably held in English rather than French or Creole, underlining the exclusion of Haitians from the rebuilding of their own country.

The voices of local people were ignored by arrogant outsiders, undermining accountability and sustainable development. As the Centre for Global Development reported this month, only a shameful 0.6% of the money spent by bilateral and multilateral donors was given to Haitian charities and businesses. Meanwhile an estimated 40% went on supporting all the foreigners dispensing aid, with their inflated housing allowances, vehicles and drivers.

A response to Birrell’s op-ed from Jane Cocking of Oxfam UK takes issue with some of his assertions, noting that “Aid agencies are present because there is abject poverty. It does not follow that they have caused that poverty.” Unfortunately, Cocking’s letter does not recognize important points that Birrell makes – many of them also examined in Sontag’s article and in the Times editorial – that aid in Haiti has long been ill-coordinated, side-stepping the Haitian government, which it has weakened in the process — or that Haitians needed, and need, to be central to the relief and rebuilding process, from the government on down to the workers carrying out the projects.

Tonight, in a ceremony presided over by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, BBC correspondent Mark Doyle and producer Piers Scholfield will be presented with an award from the U.N. Correspondents Association (UNCA). The award, one of many to be handed out, is described by the UNCA as being for “the best coverage of the United Nations and its agencies.” Certainly by “best” they do not mean the most flattering. The BBC radio documentary that earned Scholfield and Doyle the prize was an investigation into the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, which over the past two years has killed over 7,800 and sickened over 625,000. A host of scientific evidence, as well as on the ground reporting, including by Doyle and Scholfield, has pinpointed a U.N. military base as the source of the outbreak.

Just last week, Ban Ki-moon announced that the U.N. would be starting a new initiative to secure funds for a 10-year, $2.2 billion plan, set to be formally announced in January, that aims to provide Haiti and the Dominican Republic with the clean water and sanitation infrastructure needed to eradicate the disease.  Yet despite the U.N.’s pledge to support this plan, the U.N. has failed to ever accept responsibility for the epidemic. Despite a legal complaint filed with the U.N. on behalf of over 5,000 victims of cholera by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, U.N. officials continue to avoid their own role in its introduction.

Writing in Foreign Policy on the U.N. announcement last week, Jonathan Katz and Tom Murphy note:

One of the primary means by which the U.N. has deflected blame since the beginning has been to insist that efforts to find the source of the epidemic would detract from fighting it. By relaunching an existing Haitian-Dominican effort under the guise of a U.N. initiative, the world body can once again claim to be too busy saving Haitian lives to comment on how those lives were put in danger in the first place. It took no time for this to happen. When an AP reporter asked on Dec. 11 whether humanitarian coordinator Nigel Fisher thought the U.N. caused the cholera epidemic, he refused to comment, saying: “My focus is on today.”

In announcing this new initiative the U.N. pledged just $23.5 million of their own funds, less than four percent of what they are spending on keeping MINUSTAH troops in the country this year; the same troops that introduced the disease in the first place. As Mark Doyle commented after last week’s announcement, “The United Nations is good at launching appeals for aid. It is less good at admitting its own faults.”

It is also notable that the prize is named for Ricardo Ortega. Ortega was shot and killed in Haiti in 2004 after the U.S.-backed coup against democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. While it was originally reported that Aristide supporters killed Ortega, Ortega’s colleagues – on further investigation – concluded that he may have been killed by U.S. marines who were sent to Haiti following the coup. The marines would later be replaced by MINUSTAH troops. As Democracy Now reported in 2004:

On March 7th of this year, as the coup against Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide took shape, journalist Ricardo Ortega fell to the ground as he covered street protests in Port Au Prince. He had been fatally shot in the chest. His last words, as he was loaded onto a truck with other wounded, were “I cannot breathe.” It was reported at the time that he had been shot by Aristide supporters.

Ricardo was in Haiti as a freelance journalist, after being dismissed as New York correspondent for the Spanish TV station Antena 3, which had ties to the former government of Jose Maria Aznar. The reporter told friends that he was dismissed after the government complained to his superiors that his reports of the Bush administration were too critical.

Months after the death of Ricardo Ortega, his friend and colleague Jesús Martin traveled to Haiti with a crew to film a program paying tribute to his friend. But as they began to interview the witnesses to Ricardo’s killing, they were shocked to learn that he was probably killed by American marines, and not by supporters of Aristide, as had been claimed officially. Witness after witness described the arrival of a contingent of Marines on the scene, and the subsequent gunfire that came from their direction and struck the reporter. The witnesses complained that no-one had ever contacted them to find out what happened, and that no investigation had ever been conducted into the killing of Ricardo Ortega.

Democracy Now’s interview with Martin is available here.

An official Haitian government investigation also concluded that Ortega had been killed by the “foreign interposition force present in Haiti” at the time, rather than Aristide supporters. Reporters Without Borders had blamed Aristide supporters for Ortega’s death, saying that “an outburst by Aristide supporters caused the death of Ricardo Ortega,” and stating in a July 2004 report [PDF]:

Ortega’s death reminded the media that Aristide supporters would remain a threat to it as long as they were armed. Initial inves-tigation showed that the ambush in which Ortega and the other seven were killed had been carefully prepared.

But RSF admitted in 2008 that:

The conclusions of the judge, Bernard Saint-Vil, invalidate the theory, which has long been circulated, that the bullets which fatally wounded Ricardo Ortega came from the supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, during demonstrations after he was ousted from power.

 

Tonight, in a ceremony presided over by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, BBC correspondent Mark Doyle and producer Piers Scholfield will be presented with an award from the U.N. Correspondents Association (UNCA). The award, one of many to be handed out, is described by the UNCA as being for “the best coverage of the United Nations and its agencies.” Certainly by “best” they do not mean the most flattering. The BBC radio documentary that earned Scholfield and Doyle the prize was an investigation into the source of the cholera outbreak in Haiti, which over the past two years has killed over 7,800 and sickened over 625,000. A host of scientific evidence, as well as on the ground reporting, including by Doyle and Scholfield, has pinpointed a U.N. military base as the source of the outbreak.

Just last week, Ban Ki-moon announced that the U.N. would be starting a new initiative to secure funds for a 10-year, $2.2 billion plan, set to be formally announced in January, that aims to provide Haiti and the Dominican Republic with the clean water and sanitation infrastructure needed to eradicate the disease.  Yet despite the U.N.’s pledge to support this plan, the U.N. has failed to ever accept responsibility for the epidemic. Despite a legal complaint filed with the U.N. on behalf of over 5,000 victims of cholera by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, U.N. officials continue to avoid their own role in its introduction.

Writing in Foreign Policy on the U.N. announcement last week, Jonathan Katz and Tom Murphy note:

One of the primary means by which the U.N. has deflected blame since the beginning has been to insist that efforts to find the source of the epidemic would detract from fighting it. By relaunching an existing Haitian-Dominican effort under the guise of a U.N. initiative, the world body can once again claim to be too busy saving Haitian lives to comment on how those lives were put in danger in the first place. It took no time for this to happen. When an AP reporter asked on Dec. 11 whether humanitarian coordinator Nigel Fisher thought the U.N. caused the cholera epidemic, he refused to comment, saying: “My focus is on today.”

In announcing this new initiative the U.N. pledged just $23.5 million of their own funds, less than four percent of what they are spending on keeping MINUSTAH troops in the country this year; the same troops that introduced the disease in the first place. As Mark Doyle commented after last week’s announcement, “The United Nations is good at launching appeals for aid. It is less good at admitting its own faults.”

It is also notable that the prize is named for Ricardo Ortega. Ortega was shot and killed in Haiti in 2004 after the U.S.-backed coup against democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. While it was originally reported that Aristide supporters killed Ortega, Ortega’s colleagues – on further investigation – concluded that he may have been killed by U.S. marines who were sent to Haiti following the coup. The marines would later be replaced by MINUSTAH troops. As Democracy Now reported in 2004:

On March 7th of this year, as the coup against Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide took shape, journalist Ricardo Ortega fell to the ground as he covered street protests in Port Au Prince. He had been fatally shot in the chest. His last words, as he was loaded onto a truck with other wounded, were “I cannot breathe.” It was reported at the time that he had been shot by Aristide supporters.

Ricardo was in Haiti as a freelance journalist, after being dismissed as New York correspondent for the Spanish TV station Antena 3, which had ties to the former government of Jose Maria Aznar. The reporter told friends that he was dismissed after the government complained to his superiors that his reports of the Bush administration were too critical.

Months after the death of Ricardo Ortega, his friend and colleague Jesús Martin traveled to Haiti with a crew to film a program paying tribute to his friend. But as they began to interview the witnesses to Ricardo’s killing, they were shocked to learn that he was probably killed by American marines, and not by supporters of Aristide, as had been claimed officially. Witness after witness described the arrival of a contingent of Marines on the scene, and the subsequent gunfire that came from their direction and struck the reporter. The witnesses complained that no-one had ever contacted them to find out what happened, and that no investigation had ever been conducted into the killing of Ricardo Ortega.

Democracy Now’s interview with Martin is available here.

An official Haitian government investigation also concluded that Ortega had been killed by the “foreign interposition force present in Haiti” at the time, rather than Aristide supporters. Reporters Without Borders had blamed Aristide supporters for Ortega’s death, saying that “an outburst by Aristide supporters caused the death of Ricardo Ortega,” and stating in a July 2004 report [PDF]:

Ortega’s death reminded the media that Aristide supporters would remain a threat to it as long as they were armed. Initial inves-tigation showed that the ambush in which Ortega and the other seven were killed had been carefully prepared.

But RSF admitted in 2008 that:

The conclusions of the judge, Bernard Saint-Vil, invalidate the theory, which has long been circulated, that the bullets which fatally wounded Ricardo Ortega came from the supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, during demonstrations after he was ousted from power.

 

As expected, the U.N. launched a new cholera eradication initiative yesterday at a press event in the late afternoon featuring U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other speakers. The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles leads off her article on the announcement by noting the U.N.’s own relatively small contribution toward funding the $2.2 billion plan (which also calls for an additional $70 million for the Dominican Republic):

The United Nations will provide support and $23.5 million in funding to help Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic eliminate a deadly cholera epidemic that has sickened more than 600,000 and killed more than 7,700, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.

In addition to the U.N.’s contribution, Ban said donors will provide $215 million. But the money still falls short of the $600 million Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said is needed to implement the plan over the next two years focusing on improving water and sanitation services.

AP’s Alexandra Olson reports:

Ban promised to “use every opportunity” in the next months to advocate for more funding for the plan.

“We know the elimination of cholera is possible. Science tells us it can be done,” Ban said. “It can and will happen in Haiti.”

Ban also announced he was enlisting Partners in Health founder Paul Farmer as a “Special Advisor” who will help raise funds for the initiative, including from “governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and individual philanthropists.”

Ban did not refer to the cause of the epidemic – U.N. troops from Nepal, according to several scientific studies.

Several other key players from the plan’s partners were present at yesterday’s press event, including Dominican president Danilo Medina, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, and representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF. As AFP reported:

Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe backed the UN campaign to “put an end to this terrible disease” and also did not mention the cause. “We want to reaffirm the political will of the Haitian government to do whatever it takes to eradicate cholera in the country,” he said at a ceremony with Ban.

Reuters reports Ban as saying, “Haiti has seen a dramatic fall in infection and fatality rates. But this will not be a short-term crisis. Eliminating cholera from Haiti will continue to require the full cooperation and support of the international community.”

It hasn’t been a “short-term crisis” so far, unfortunately, but that does not mean that the international community should not respond as urgently as possible in order to prevent new infections and deaths. But the plan includes what appear to be modest benchmarks. Regarding the crucial areas of water and sanitation infrastructure, for example, in the first years 2013 – 2015, the plan aims to achieve an “Accelerated rate of construction of semi-collective sewer systems and treatment wastewater plants” and “Accelerated rate of access to latrines, septic tanks, and sludge removal operations” in just “3 of 25 cities” among other goals.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot notes in an op-ed for Aljazeera today, the announcement of the initiative comes more than two years after the cholera outbreak began – two years that have been marked by international pressure on the U.N. to do something about the disaster it created. Protesters in Haiti, grassroots criticism, a lawsuit on behalf of cholera victims filed by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, a letter from 104 members of Congress, and editorials and op-eds in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Guardian of London and the London Independent have all been part of an international campaign calling on the U.N. to take responsibility. The award-winning film “Baseball in the Time of Cholera” has helped to raise awareness of U.N. culpability for causing the epidemic, and a new online petition hosted by Avaaz.org (and launched by Oliver Stone) urging the U.N. to take responsibility has gathered thousands of signatures so far in just six days.

AP reports that in a press briefing following Ban’s announcement, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti Nigel Fisher

…would not comment on whether the U.N. peacekeeping mission is to blame for bringing cholera to Haiti. Scientific studies have suggested that U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal inadvertently introduced the disease, and protests erupted in Haiti amid reports of sanitation problems at a base that was housing the troops.

That issue “is with the legal office and as a staff member I am not authorized to say anything about the legal process at this time,” Fisher said. “My focus is on today, as it has been since the outbreak, and is on making sure that Haitians stay alive.”

Fisher and PAHO Director Mirta Roses Periago were asked about what measures the U.N. was putting in place to ensure that U.N. personnel avoid causing such an outbreak again in the future. Periago’s response was less than reassuring. As the AP reports:

Mirta Roses Periago, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, said it is not necessarily advisable to screen every peacekeeper for diseases before they are deployed. But she said PAHO has advised the secretary-general “to have special provisions for people coming from endemic areas and being sure that there is no outbreak going on at the time that people are being deployed.”

As the AP notes, “The U.N. has already spent $118 million on responding to the cholera epidemic in Haiti.” Along with the $23.5 that the U.N. announced it would contribute yesterday, this still is only just 21 percent of MINUSTAH’s budget for the current fiscal year ($676 million). This is why we have suggested that the MINUSTAH budget be put instead toward fighting cholera:  “The U.N. troops have no reason for being in Haiti,” [Weisbrot] said. “There is no conflict there. The Mission’s $676 million budget should be spent instead on eliminating cholera.”

Haiti’s president Michel Martelly expressed similar sentiments earlier this week during a trip to South Florida, as the Miami Herald reported:

In the strongest statement by any Haitian leader since the disease arrived in Haiti, 10 months after the quake, Martelly said Monday that while he won’t engage in the debate about who’s responsible for cholera in Haiti, the Untied Nations “certainly” should take responsibility.

“The U.N. knows better than me who has brought cholera to Haiti,” he said. “The U.N. itself could bring money to the table.”

UPDATE, 4:22 PM:

A statement [PDF] on the initiative was released today under the auspices of the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, signed by a dozen organizations including American Jewish World Service, the Episcopal Church, Church World Service, Oxfam America, TransAfrica, and others.

It reads, in part:

This, however, is only the beginning. Without long-term funding and leadership, the vision of this plan will not be realized. We call on all donors from across the world to commit to this project now. Support for the development of basic infrastructure and a strong health system will help the Haitian government protect and promote the universal right to the highest attainable standard of health and prevent the spread of other water-borne diseases.
 
Successful implementation will require working closely with civil society organizations and local communities. These projects must be done in concert with those who will benefit, particularly women who are overwhelmingly responsible for providing water for their families. These projects must also be designed to ensure that they will remain sustainable long after international attention and funding ends.

The signers also state: “We will be monitoring progress to ensure the plan is fully-funded and benefits the most marginalized populations.”

As expected, the U.N. launched a new cholera eradication initiative yesterday at a press event in the late afternoon featuring U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other speakers. The Miami Herald’s Jacqueline Charles leads off her article on the announcement by noting the U.N.’s own relatively small contribution toward funding the $2.2 billion plan (which also calls for an additional $70 million for the Dominican Republic):

The United Nations will provide support and $23.5 million in funding to help Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic eliminate a deadly cholera epidemic that has sickened more than 600,000 and killed more than 7,700, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.

In addition to the U.N.’s contribution, Ban said donors will provide $215 million. But the money still falls short of the $600 million Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said is needed to implement the plan over the next two years focusing on improving water and sanitation services.

AP’s Alexandra Olson reports:

Ban promised to “use every opportunity” in the next months to advocate for more funding for the plan.

“We know the elimination of cholera is possible. Science tells us it can be done,” Ban said. “It can and will happen in Haiti.”

Ban also announced he was enlisting Partners in Health founder Paul Farmer as a “Special Advisor” who will help raise funds for the initiative, including from “governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and individual philanthropists.”

Ban did not refer to the cause of the epidemic – U.N. troops from Nepal, according to several scientific studies.

Several other key players from the plan’s partners were present at yesterday’s press event, including Dominican president Danilo Medina, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, and representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and UNICEF. As AFP reported:

Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe backed the UN campaign to “put an end to this terrible disease” and also did not mention the cause. “We want to reaffirm the political will of the Haitian government to do whatever it takes to eradicate cholera in the country,” he said at a ceremony with Ban.

Reuters reports Ban as saying, “Haiti has seen a dramatic fall in infection and fatality rates. But this will not be a short-term crisis. Eliminating cholera from Haiti will continue to require the full cooperation and support of the international community.”

It hasn’t been a “short-term crisis” so far, unfortunately, but that does not mean that the international community should not respond as urgently as possible in order to prevent new infections and deaths. But the plan includes what appear to be modest benchmarks. Regarding the crucial areas of water and sanitation infrastructure, for example, in the first years 2013 – 2015, the plan aims to achieve an “Accelerated rate of construction of semi-collective sewer systems and treatment wastewater plants” and “Accelerated rate of access to latrines, septic tanks, and sludge removal operations” in just “3 of 25 cities” among other goals.

As CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot notes in an op-ed for Aljazeera today, the announcement of the initiative comes more than two years after the cholera outbreak began – two years that have been marked by international pressure on the U.N. to do something about the disaster it created. Protesters in Haiti, grassroots criticism, a lawsuit on behalf of cholera victims filed by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, a letter from 104 members of Congress, and editorials and op-eds in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Guardian of London and the London Independent have all been part of an international campaign calling on the U.N. to take responsibility. The award-winning film “Baseball in the Time of Cholera” has helped to raise awareness of U.N. culpability for causing the epidemic, and a new online petition hosted by Avaaz.org (and launched by Oliver Stone) urging the U.N. to take responsibility has gathered thousands of signatures so far in just six days.

AP reports that in a press briefing following Ban’s announcement, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti Nigel Fisher

…would not comment on whether the U.N. peacekeeping mission is to blame for bringing cholera to Haiti. Scientific studies have suggested that U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal inadvertently introduced the disease, and protests erupted in Haiti amid reports of sanitation problems at a base that was housing the troops.

That issue “is with the legal office and as a staff member I am not authorized to say anything about the legal process at this time,” Fisher said. “My focus is on today, as it has been since the outbreak, and is on making sure that Haitians stay alive.”

Fisher and PAHO Director Mirta Roses Periago were asked about what measures the U.N. was putting in place to ensure that U.N. personnel avoid causing such an outbreak again in the future. Periago’s response was less than reassuring. As the AP reports:

Mirta Roses Periago, the director of the Pan American Health Organization, said it is not necessarily advisable to screen every peacekeeper for diseases before they are deployed. But she said PAHO has advised the secretary-general “to have special provisions for people coming from endemic areas and being sure that there is no outbreak going on at the time that people are being deployed.”

As the AP notes, “The U.N. has already spent $118 million on responding to the cholera epidemic in Haiti.” Along with the $23.5 that the U.N. announced it would contribute yesterday, this still is only just 21 percent of MINUSTAH’s budget for the current fiscal year ($676 million). This is why we have suggested that the MINUSTAH budget be put instead toward fighting cholera:  “The U.N. troops have no reason for being in Haiti,” [Weisbrot] said. “There is no conflict there. The Mission’s $676 million budget should be spent instead on eliminating cholera.”

Haiti’s president Michel Martelly expressed similar sentiments earlier this week during a trip to South Florida, as the Miami Herald reported:

In the strongest statement by any Haitian leader since the disease arrived in Haiti, 10 months after the quake, Martelly said Monday that while he won’t engage in the debate about who’s responsible for cholera in Haiti, the Untied Nations “certainly” should take responsibility.

“The U.N. knows better than me who has brought cholera to Haiti,” he said. “The U.N. itself could bring money to the table.”

UPDATE, 4:22 PM:

A statement [PDF] on the initiative was released today under the auspices of the Haiti Advocacy Working Group, signed by a dozen organizations including American Jewish World Service, the Episcopal Church, Church World Service, Oxfam America, TransAfrica, and others.

It reads, in part:

This, however, is only the beginning. Without long-term funding and leadership, the vision of this plan will not be realized. We call on all donors from across the world to commit to this project now. Support for the development of basic infrastructure and a strong health system will help the Haitian government protect and promote the universal right to the highest attainable standard of health and prevent the spread of other water-borne diseases.
 
Successful implementation will require working closely with civil society organizations and local communities. These projects must be done in concert with those who will benefit, particularly women who are overwhelmingly responsible for providing water for their families. These projects must also be designed to ensure that they will remain sustainable long after international attention and funding ends.

The signers also state: “We will be monitoring progress to ensure the plan is fully-funded and benefits the most marginalized populations.”

The cholera epidemic, brought to Haiti by UN troops over two years ago, continues to spread throughout the country claiming lives and sickening thousands. Since the passage of Hurricane Sandy in late October, over 175 Haitians have died and nearly 20,000 have fallen ill. In November, an average of 4 Haitians died each day due to the disease. Since the introduction of cholera, nearly 7,800 have died and over 625,000 have been sickened.

Today, in observance of Human Rights Day, Haitian grassroots groups Fan Rezo BAI (Women’s Network of BAI), MOLEGHAF (Movement for Liberty and Equality by Haitians for Fraternity) and KONAMAVID (National Coordination of Direct Victims) are protesting outside the UN Logistics Base in Port-au-Prince. The groups are calling on the UN to take responsibility for the epidemic and to provide reparations to the hundreds of thousands of victims across the country. (For updates, pictures and video from the protest, see @BuddhistLawyer, @melindayiti, @gaetantguevara, and @BriKouriAyiti on Twitter.)

Francois Moise of KONAMAVID comments:

“You always have human rights, they die with you. No one gives them to you, we demand justice to victims of cholera. We see people in the streets that we can’t help. We ask the UN to take responsibility for cholera that its troops sent to Haiti.”

For his part, David Oxygene of MOLEGHAF, who recently spent over two months in prison after being arrested during a previous protest, accused the UN of “violating Haitian’s human right to health and water,” adding, “the laws are violated here, the right to housing, health, education, to work, which are protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We don’t have any of the rights we are supposed to.”

The calls from Haitians grassroots groups build on an international campaign to hold the UN accountable. The award-winning filmmaker and director Oliver Stone created an online petition on Avaaz last week calling on the UN “to help Haitians stamp out killer cholera for good.” The petition has so far received nearly 6,000 signatures from all over the world.

In part because of the pressure from both within Haiti and internationally, the UN, together with the Haitian government and other international agencies are expected to announce tomorrow a $2.2 billion, ten-year plan to eradicate cholera from both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The plan, while a step in the right direction, comes over two years since the UN introduced cholera and numerous questions remain as to the plan’s implementation, not least of which is where the $2.2 billion will come from. The AP reported in November that the only confirmed funding was $15 million from the World Bank.

For photos from today’s protest, click read more.

MOLEGHAF
Credit: Nicole Phillips (@BuddhistLawyer)

PacefulProtest
Credit: BriKouri Nouvel Gaye (@BriKouriAyiti)

Mario PersonaNonGrata
Credit: BriKouri Nouvel Gaye (@BriKouriAyiti)

Kolera
Credit: BriKouri Nouvel Gaye (@BriKouriAyiti)

AbaMinista
Credit: Nicole Phillips (@BuddhistLawyer)

 

The cholera epidemic, brought to Haiti by UN troops over two years ago, continues to spread throughout the country claiming lives and sickening thousands. Since the passage of Hurricane Sandy in late October, over 175 Haitians have died and nearly 20,000 have fallen ill. In November, an average of 4 Haitians died each day due to the disease. Since the introduction of cholera, nearly 7,800 have died and over 625,000 have been sickened.

Today, in observance of Human Rights Day, Haitian grassroots groups Fan Rezo BAI (Women’s Network of BAI), MOLEGHAF (Movement for Liberty and Equality by Haitians for Fraternity) and KONAMAVID (National Coordination of Direct Victims) are protesting outside the UN Logistics Base in Port-au-Prince. The groups are calling on the UN to take responsibility for the epidemic and to provide reparations to the hundreds of thousands of victims across the country. (For updates, pictures and video from the protest, see @BuddhistLawyer, @melindayiti, @gaetantguevara, and @BriKouriAyiti on Twitter.)

Francois Moise of KONAMAVID comments:

“You always have human rights, they die with you. No one gives them to you, we demand justice to victims of cholera. We see people in the streets that we can’t help. We ask the UN to take responsibility for cholera that its troops sent to Haiti.”

For his part, David Oxygene of MOLEGHAF, who recently spent over two months in prison after being arrested during a previous protest, accused the UN of “violating Haitian’s human right to health and water,” adding, “the laws are violated here, the right to housing, health, education, to work, which are protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We don’t have any of the rights we are supposed to.”

The calls from Haitians grassroots groups build on an international campaign to hold the UN accountable. The award-winning filmmaker and director Oliver Stone created an online petition on Avaaz last week calling on the UN “to help Haitians stamp out killer cholera for good.” The petition has so far received nearly 6,000 signatures from all over the world.

In part because of the pressure from both within Haiti and internationally, the UN, together with the Haitian government and other international agencies are expected to announce tomorrow a $2.2 billion, ten-year plan to eradicate cholera from both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The plan, while a step in the right direction, comes over two years since the UN introduced cholera and numerous questions remain as to the plan’s implementation, not least of which is where the $2.2 billion will come from. The AP reported in November that the only confirmed funding was $15 million from the World Bank.

For photos from today’s protest, click read more.

MOLEGHAF
Credit: Nicole Phillips (@BuddhistLawyer)

PacefulProtest
Credit: BriKouri Nouvel Gaye (@BriKouriAyiti)

Mario PersonaNonGrata
Credit: BriKouri Nouvel Gaye (@BriKouriAyiti)

Kolera
Credit: BriKouri Nouvel Gaye (@BriKouriAyiti)

AbaMinista
Credit: Nicole Phillips (@BuddhistLawyer)

 

Dozens of Haitian and international organizations have marked UN Human Rights Day today by calling for an end to forced evictions, which, as Oxfam notes, “infringe on other rights in addition to the right to adequate housing” due to “the inter-relationship and interdependence of all human rights.” In a statement calling “on the international community to act against the human rights abuses taking place in Haiti in the form of arbitrary and illegal forced evictions,” groups gathered under the Under Tents campaign note that “Haiti’s displaced face not only the challenges inherent to living in tent camps, but one in five are currently at risk of forced eviction.”

A briefing note [PDF] released by Oxfam today notes that “the right to decent housing” is enshrined in both Haitian and international law:

The right to private property is acknowledged and guaranteed by the Haitian constitution of 1987, but the constitution, as well as many international legal instruments, also recognizes the right to decent housing. These include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, whose ratification by the Haitian parliament on 31 January 2012 was hailed as an important step in broadening the scope of human-rights protection in the country.

But it also notes that “By the end of October 2012, the displaced population was estimated at 358,000 people, living in 496 camps and informal sites.” Oxfam presents some of the scale of those whose rights have been violated in forced evictions and precarious IDP camp situations so far:

Up to August 2012, around 61,000 people had been evicted from 152 camps. Another 78,000 people housed in 121 camps are currently threatened with eviction. Of the 121 camps currently under threat of forced evictions, around 96 per cent of these camps are located on private property. According to Oxfam’s latest survey, 86 per cent of the people in the camps lack the financial resources to leave, and the majority do not have jobs in the formal economy. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) who remain in camps live in extreme poverty, with 60 percent reporting that they ate one meal or fewer per day.

The Under Tents statement also notes the failings of the Haitian government and private landowners to protect these rights:

The level of violence involved and the disregard for the rights of the displaced demonstrated during these evictions are a scandal. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights recommended in November 2010 that the Government of Haiti issue a moratorium on all evictions from IDP (Internally Displaced People’s) camps. The Commission’s precautionary principles recommend that those who have been unlawfully evicted be transferred to places with a minimum of sanitary and security conditions, and have effective recourse before tribunals and other competent authorities. The Haitian government has not complied with the Commission’s binding recommendations to date. Haitians displaced by the earthquake are entitled to special legal protection under the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Guiding Principles), which prohibit forced evictions unless necessary to protect the safety and health of those affected. The Haitian government has a duty to provide these citizens with due process protection such as consultation and adequate notice of eviction, as well as an alternate place to live that meets international standards. Neither private landowners nor the Haitian government, from the local police to the Minister of Justice, are respecting these protections.

A video report by Aljazeera English presents a human face alongside the numbers presented by the Under Tents statement and by Oxfam’s briefing note, profiling IDP camp residents such as Judith Bertrand who told Aljazeera, “I hear all the time that billions were given for the people, and instead of helping us to leave the camps, I realize that they have left us here to die.”

Both Oxfam and Under Tents describe some of the violence involved in past forced evictions, with Oxfam describing how “In the Place Mausolée camp, a fire in the middle of the night forced residents to leave without being able to take their personnel belongings. A 12-year-old girl perished in the blaze.” Under Tents noted that in the

December 2011 government-led eviction of Place Jérémie, a camp on public land …Although families were supposed to receive $500 to relocate (already an amount insufficient for families to find sustainable housing), police came to the camp in the middle of the night, armed with machetes and batons, destroyed tents and violently evicted residents. The housing rights coalition Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA) reported that the majority of families received $25 in compensation.

Victims of forced evictions suffer an extensive list of human rights abuses: destruction of their tent ‘homes’; theft of their belongings; violent attacks by law enforcement and private thugs; arbitrary arrest; and the withholding of food, water, medical care, and sanitation services. In recent evictions documented by FRAKKA and other grassroots activists, residents have been shot at or beaten by police, their property has been destroyed, and in several cases, entire camps have been set on fire. In October, one woman was raped during the attempted eviction of Camp Lamèfrape.

Once displaced from camps, people’s right to decent housing continues to be violated, as Under Tents notes that

evicted families often have no option but to inhabit dangerous and substandard housing. Within one year of the earthquake, families had returned to 64% of houses marked for demolition and 85% of houses needing significant repair. Others have been pushed to live on dangerous hillsides, in slum neighborhoods, or to the outskirts of the city where no infrastructure exists.

Dozens of Haitian and international organizations have marked UN Human Rights Day today by calling for an end to forced evictions, which, as Oxfam notes, “infringe on other rights in addition to the right to adequate housing” due to “the inter-relationship and interdependence of all human rights.” In a statement calling “on the international community to act against the human rights abuses taking place in Haiti in the form of arbitrary and illegal forced evictions,” groups gathered under the Under Tents campaign note that “Haiti’s displaced face not only the challenges inherent to living in tent camps, but one in five are currently at risk of forced eviction.”

A briefing note [PDF] released by Oxfam today notes that “the right to decent housing” is enshrined in both Haitian and international law:

The right to private property is acknowledged and guaranteed by the Haitian constitution of 1987, but the constitution, as well as many international legal instruments, also recognizes the right to decent housing. These include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, whose ratification by the Haitian parliament on 31 January 2012 was hailed as an important step in broadening the scope of human-rights protection in the country.

But it also notes that “By the end of October 2012, the displaced population was estimated at 358,000 people, living in 496 camps and informal sites.” Oxfam presents some of the scale of those whose rights have been violated in forced evictions and precarious IDP camp situations so far:

Up to August 2012, around 61,000 people had been evicted from 152 camps. Another 78,000 people housed in 121 camps are currently threatened with eviction. Of the 121 camps currently under threat of forced evictions, around 96 per cent of these camps are located on private property. According to Oxfam’s latest survey, 86 per cent of the people in the camps lack the financial resources to leave, and the majority do not have jobs in the formal economy. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) who remain in camps live in extreme poverty, with 60 percent reporting that they ate one meal or fewer per day.

The Under Tents statement also notes the failings of the Haitian government and private landowners to protect these rights:

The level of violence involved and the disregard for the rights of the displaced demonstrated during these evictions are a scandal. The Inter-American Commission of Human Rights recommended in November 2010 that the Government of Haiti issue a moratorium on all evictions from IDP (Internally Displaced People’s) camps. The Commission’s precautionary principles recommend that those who have been unlawfully evicted be transferred to places with a minimum of sanitary and security conditions, and have effective recourse before tribunals and other competent authorities. The Haitian government has not complied with the Commission’s binding recommendations to date. Haitians displaced by the earthquake are entitled to special legal protection under the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Guiding Principles), which prohibit forced evictions unless necessary to protect the safety and health of those affected. The Haitian government has a duty to provide these citizens with due process protection such as consultation and adequate notice of eviction, as well as an alternate place to live that meets international standards. Neither private landowners nor the Haitian government, from the local police to the Minister of Justice, are respecting these protections.

A video report by Aljazeera English presents a human face alongside the numbers presented by the Under Tents statement and by Oxfam’s briefing note, profiling IDP camp residents such as Judith Bertrand who told Aljazeera, “I hear all the time that billions were given for the people, and instead of helping us to leave the camps, I realize that they have left us here to die.”

Both Oxfam and Under Tents describe some of the violence involved in past forced evictions, with Oxfam describing how “In the Place Mausolée camp, a fire in the middle of the night forced residents to leave without being able to take their personnel belongings. A 12-year-old girl perished in the blaze.” Under Tents noted that in the

December 2011 government-led eviction of Place Jérémie, a camp on public land …Although families were supposed to receive $500 to relocate (already an amount insufficient for families to find sustainable housing), police came to the camp in the middle of the night, armed with machetes and batons, destroyed tents and violently evicted residents. The housing rights coalition Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA) reported that the majority of families received $25 in compensation.

Victims of forced evictions suffer an extensive list of human rights abuses: destruction of their tent ‘homes’; theft of their belongings; violent attacks by law enforcement and private thugs; arbitrary arrest; and the withholding of food, water, medical care, and sanitation services. In recent evictions documented by FRAKKA and other grassroots activists, residents have been shot at or beaten by police, their property has been destroyed, and in several cases, entire camps have been set on fire. In October, one woman was raped during the attempted eviction of Camp Lamèfrape.

Once displaced from camps, people’s right to decent housing continues to be violated, as Under Tents notes that

evicted families often have no option but to inhabit dangerous and substandard housing. Within one year of the earthquake, families had returned to 64% of houses marked for demolition and 85% of houses needing significant repair. Others have been pushed to live on dangerous hillsides, in slum neighborhoods, or to the outskirts of the city where no infrastructure exists.

Want to search in the archives?

¿Quieres buscar en los archivos?

Click Here Haga clic aquí