Friday, November 19, 2010

False picture of foreign aid to Haiti

by The Guardian
The UN forces came to police the 92% of Haitian voters who had electedPresident Aristide and protested about his overthrow by a US coup. They were never "heroes" – except to the elite "cocooned in luxury and indifference" who backed the coup (Heroes to zeros, 17 November 2010).
Before accusations of having brought cholera to Haiti (many believe intentionally), UN troops stood accused of murdering and raping Aristide supporters. According to the Lancet (UN peacekeepers in Haiti, 2 September 2006): "In just 22 months – from the departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the end of 2005 – 8,000 people were murdered and 35,000 women sexually assaulted." While "criminals" were blamed, "police, armed forces, paramilitaries and foreign soldiers were also implicated".
You have got some things right: Haiti is a "republic of NGOs"; "aidtourism" does hinder reconstruction; and subsidised US imports were responsible for "destroying home-grown agriculture". (Bill Clinton apologised for the starvation his policies inflicted). But your claim that US troops are "popular and many people want them back", and the fact that US-financed elections on 28 November exclude Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party from the ballot, disregard the will of a people who, despite every obstacle, continue to let their will be known.
Twice before, in April and June 2009, 90% of the Haitian electorate boycotted US-funded elections which illegally excluded Fanmi Lavalas. In June 2010, Haitians brought to the US Social Forum a petition signed by over 20,000 female earthquake survivors demanding Aristide's return from forced exile. If Aristide were home, Haitians would not be at the mercy of NGOs and others for whom they are merely a business opportunity.
Selma James and Nina Lopez

Major Aid Organizations "Duped Donors" and "Failed Haiti" Group Charges

Georgianne Nienaber

"Cholera should not be spreading in Haiti."

The Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) released an online petition today, targeting leaders of major disaster relief and aid organizations for failing to do more to prevent the cholera outbreak in Haiti ten months after a devastating earthquake killed up to 300,000 and left 1.5 million homeless. Major relief organizations raised billions of dollars, while telling the public that their relief efforts included water and sanitation work. With half of the funds raised still in the bank, DAP says that aid organizations failed to use the funds with the same urgency conveyed to donors, and that a cholera epidemic was avoidable.
Executive Director Ben Smilowitz says the failure of aid organizations to respond quickly to the epidemic is different from donor nations promising aid that never materialized.
"Donors have been duped. They generously donated in response to urgent appeals to save lives and help the people of Haiti after the devastating earthquake. Now, after billions in cash was raised, earthquake survivors are dying of cholera because conditions are so poor and the donated money is sitting in the bank. This is not what donors had in mind and it underscores the importance of transparency and accountability in relief and aid situations," Smilowitz said yesterday in a phone interview.
The petition targets the leadership of major aid organizations by name, accusing them of "not doing their jobs" and allowing the epidemic to become a major threat. Quoting the Chronicle of Philanthropy, DAP named major charities involved in sanitation and water projects.
Each of these organizations stated that they worked on Water and Sanitation after the Haiti earthquake. As of July 2010 - six months after the Haiti earthquake, American Red Cross raised $464 million and spent $117 million; Catholic Relief Services raised $140.8 million and spent $30.6 million; Oxfam America raised $29 million and spent $11 million; Salvation Army raised $20.5 million and spent $6.8 million; Food for the Poor raised $20.5 million and spent $10.7 million; Mercy Corps raised $14.9 million and spent almost $2.9 million; International Medical Corps raised $13 million and spent $4.5 million. World Vision raised $44 million ($192,000,000 worldwide) and spent $56 million worldwide and CARE raised $18.2 million and spent $9.6 million worldwide. It is unclear how much World Vision and CARE spent in Haiti, since they did not provide that information.
When asked about the skewed World Vision numbers, Smilowitz said that "these groups try to make their numbers look as impressive as possible. The bottom line is that they did not clearly answer the question about how much money World Vision raised and spent in Haiti."
"The international community and Haitian government failed to sufficiently invest in clean water and sanitation after the quake. Now, living conditions are so deplorable and infrastructure so poor, the situation is ripe for the cholera epidemic. The cholera death toll is expected to soar into the thousands," the DAP petition says.
The petition also quotes World Health Organization (WHO) documents which say cholera outbreaks are "closely linked to inadequate environmental management" and that "typical at-risk areas include peri-urban slums, where basic infrastructure is not available, as well as camps for internally displaced people or refugees, where minimum requirements of clean water and sanitation are not met."
Pan American Health Organization epidemiologists have said the disease has not peaked and will likely worsen and spread. 270,000 may be affected in the coming years.

Tarp camps for Haitians displaced by the earthquake lack sanitation facilities and many do not have clean water.

On November 17, the Ministère de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP) reported that the cumulative number of hospital admissions and deaths due to cholera as of November 15 as 18,382 and 1110, respectively. 

Six months after the Haiti earthquake, Disaster Accountability Project released a report detailing a "shocking lack of transparency" in Haiti relief operations.
The Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving disaster management systems through policy research and advocacy, promoting transparency and engaging citizens to become more involved in preparedness and relief, and helping to ensure that people know what is happening on the ground during a disaster.
DAP was founded in 2007 in reaction to the response to Hurricane Katrina.
A toll-free hotline (866-9-TIP-DAP) is available as a public service for disaster survivors, workers and volunteers to report critical gaps in disaster prevention, response, relief, and recovery services or planning.

Let’s face this bleak reality, the Haiti of today is not a sovereign state and has not been for quite some time. Haiti is an orphan state at the custody of the international community (IC), more precisely the United States of America.

Like a sinking ship in the middle of the ocean, Haiti is quickly disintegrating as the people are dying from subhuman conditions and one disaster after another. The weak state of the Haitian government has rendered it practically incapable of addressing any of the people’s issue. It seems that the more the international community wants to be the savior of Haiti, the more the country is falling into the abyss.

As a people it is not too late to reclaim our country. I am fully aware of how hard such a task would be, but protecting our rights to exist would fully validate the undertaking. We are not short on who to blame for our constant meager conditions, but often time the solutions are not easy to come by, let alone finding the courage to implement anything that could work. It is time for a re-evaluation of our commitment to our country.

Haiti has been in a state of crisis management for most of the past two decades. The presidential elections of 2000 were heavily criticized, and in 2004 we saw the removal of a duly elected president and a return of UN forces on our soil. Right after, we had a care-taker government, which was headed by Gerard Latortue, who himself was the choice of the international community. In 2006, the people had to take the streets to make sure that their votes were counted and respected, and as an outcome Rene Preval became president for a second time.

Fast forward to 2010, which will probably be recorded as one of the worst years in Haitian history in term of natural disasters, and the exposition of what failing policies can do to a people. Top-down, we have witnessed a disenfranchised people unable to help themselves during the hardest moment in generations. After the earthquake, it became evident that Haitians do not control their destiny and that its very survival is at the mercy of the international community. The same scenario repeated itself as a cholera outbreak potentially have reached our shore from South Asia, have killed and sickened scores of Haitians, only to once again witnessed the people left at the mercy of the international community to come to their rescue.

The Haitian authorities cannot speak to the people until they are ordered to do so from their proprietor, even if that means, watching hopeless people die. As the earthquake and the cholera outbreak clearly exposed the incompetence of Haitian authorities and their willingness to submit to orders from the international community, as a concerned citizen I believe the time has come for us to implement the changes that we want for our children.

The plan of the international community for our country is to let Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) do the job that could and shall be done by Haitians. It is clear and evident that our country is completely dependent on the charity of the IC and Haitians more than ever are being excluded from major decisions relating to their country.
The UN military forces under the banner of MINUSTHA have provided a safe heaven for foreigners to do their work in Haiti, while millions of Haitians continue to suffer. There is a false sense of peace in the country because the people know any attempt to voice their discontent will be met by force from the UN soldiers. All along, the Haitian government has allowed this situation to continue. The MINUSTHA also protects the status quo of the few Haitians in power all at the detriment of the people.

The reconstruction effort is being co-led by President Bill Clinton, a part-timer UN envoy to Haiti, and Max Bellerive, the current sitting Prime Minister of Haiti. There is no doubt who is really in charge between those two individuals. Haiti is an occupied territory that no one wants to acknowledge. The weak state of the Haitian government is a direct result of the international community policies towards Haiti, and unfortunately many of us are too naïve to want to accept this basic reality.

The way forward starts with a bottom-up approach, where the people stop falling for the trap of survival and start investing in the future of their children. Haiti became an independent state in 1804 because for the most part our ancestors came to the realization that they would rather die than to see us living the same life they lived. Hence, a movement towards a free Haiti began and succeeded in defeating the French colonialists. Today’s situation is no different. We face the prospect of not seeing a better tomorrow, but we can fight for the welfare our children. It is the moment for us to take ourselves out of the equation, and lay everything on the line for the sake of those who have yet to be born.

As we live in a global age, the new reality of occupation and colonization has changed. Instead of one country being in charge of a lesser weaker state, we now see multi-national forces, usually dominated by great powers, taking the lead to impose their policies on impoverished countries like Haiti. It would be one thing to be the property of the international community and have access to the most basic necessities of life, but it is completely unacceptable to live this daily humiliation in our own homeland, and yet still forced to live in sub-human conditions.

The face of slavery may have change, but Haiti and Haitians remain in bondage. We must once again break the chain of oppression and reclaim our rightful place among civilized nations in this world. The international community has failed and is continuing to fail us.

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