Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Decem­ber 9, 2011: Angered by the UN-caused cholera epidemic that has claimed thousands, Haitians rallied at the UN Sta­bi­liza­tion Mis­sion in Haiti (MINUSTAH) Base at St. Marc. Photo: from a video produced by Nick Strat­ton, Bureau des Avo­cats Inter­na­tionaux. Watch it at http://ijdh.org/archives/24340.

Two years after an earthquake killed 158,000, the majority of Haitians continue to battle against hunger, disease, homelessness and political repression. Half a million people remain in refugee camps and many thousands who have found other accommodations are living in buildings that have been designated as unsafe and requiring demolition or major repairs.

Clean water is unavailable to almost half the population and sanitation, in the form or latrines, is available to only 34%. It is a formula for disease, and the 2010 cholera outbreak, traced to the criminally negligent sewage disposal practices of UN troops, sick­ened nearly 500,000 peo­ple and killed more than 6,500 oth­ers.

With all of the aid money that has been pouring into Haiti, it would not be unreasonable to expect living conditions to be much better than they are. Journalist Kim Ives, a writer and editor of Haiti Liberté, who spoke on this topic last Thursday at the University of Manitoba, provided this summary:

  • $2.4 billion in bilateral relief aid (emergency aid) delivered to date
  • $4.5 billion was pledged for bilateral recovery in 2010, 2011 (plus $1 billion for debt relief). As of Dec, 2011, $2.4 billion of that was delivered.
  • Donors have dispersed an additional $560 million in recovery assistance.
  • An additional $3.1 billion for relief and recovery from NGOs and other private donors. (The largest share of that came from the Red Cross, which raised $1.4 billion; of that, only 50% has been spent. I wonder where the rest went?)
  • Cholera treatment funding of $172 million has been promised; $130 million has been disbursed.

Clearly something is wrong. Kim Ives summarized the obstacles to effective aid and reconstruction as follows:

  • A weak and under-funded national government,  as a result of two centuries of foreign intervention and plunder
  • A large presence of international aid organizations and UN agencies,  accountable, first and foremost, to their donors and home governments
  • A right-wing presidency brought to power through an exclusionary and fraudulent electoral process
  • A foreign police and military force (MINUSTAH) dating from the 2004 coup d’etat and whose purpose is to preserve the status quo

If you want to know more, watch my video report.


Resources

Canada Haiti Action Network
Winnipeg Haiti Solidarity Group
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Haiti Liberté

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Cholera kills. Since the UN brought the disease to Haiti last year, 6,000 have died. Because this disease thrives in countries that lack potable water and sewage treatment infrastructure, it is unlikely to be eradicated soon in that country.

Cholera treatment facilities are likely to be an ongoing need in Haiti for some time to come. According to researchers at Harvard and University of California (San Francisco), the number of infections could rise to 779,000 this year. Sensibly, the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) did its part last November by setting up an 80-bed cholera treatment camp in Carrefour, and staffing it with 14 Canadian health and technical professionals, as well as local medical personnel.

However, with much fanfare, the Canadian Red Cross announced, in April 2011, that it was turning the operation over to the Haitian Red Cross. According to the CRC, cholera incidences had been reduced significantly. In the breathless, feel-good prose favoured by propagandists everywhere:

“That’s the real strength of the Red Cross,” explains Dave Batement, head of the Canadian Red Cross cholera treatment centre team. “We are training personnel from the Haitian Red Cross and giving them the tools they need to take over when we leave.”

Would that it were so . . .

In June, 2011, the Canada Haiti Action Network dispatched a small team to Haiti to gather information, gauge progress and learn how Canadians might express their solidarity. One of their objectives was to visit the cholera treatment camp in Carrefour.

This is what they went looking for.

This is what they found.

According to CHAN coordinator Roger Annis, the CRC didn’t transfer the centre; it closed it. “We met with Haitians there who told us the story,” says Annis, who added that the story was confirmed by staff at a nearby cholera treatment camp operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who also told him of the increase in cholera cases after the CRC closed its camp.

Upon returning to Canada, Annis contacted the CRC for an explanation. Unwilling to be swayed by a few facts, the CRC spokesperson insisted that the camp was operating. Sigh . . . (insert your favourite expletives here).

Annis, and fellow delegation member Sandra Gessler, of the Winnipeg Haiti Solidarity Group, reported on their trip on September 26, 2011, in Winnipeg. As is my habit, I packed my video camera.