Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Expert discusses post-earthquake Haiti

By Chelsea Sweeney, The Ubyssey
October  7, 2010

San Francisco-based attorney Nicole Phillips posed a variety of questions to homeless Haitians when she conducted surveys in six of the Haitian displacement camps for her humanitarian report We’ve Been Forgotten. However, Haitians posed their own question to Phillips regarding the she billions of dollars of aid pledged to Haiti: “Where is all this money going?”

According to Phillips, “The money is not getting to the people in Haiti at all.”

Phillips, who is the staff attorney of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), described her goals as “building the rule of law in Haiti…and bringing the fight for justice to Haiti.”

She surveyed 52 families, out of 90 originally interviewed last March who were still living in the Haitian displacement camps in July. She shared her findings with a small but distressed audience on October 5 at an hour-long presentation at the Liu Institute entitled “Taking Action in Haiti: Earthquake Response.” The presentation was hosted by the Liu Institute for Global Issue’s Transitional Justice Network (TJN).

Phillips’s statistics are revealing. “Port au Prince had about 3 million people,” she said. “Currently, nine months later, after the earthquake, 1.3 million are estimated to be living in displacement camps.” Seventy-five percent reported going entire days without eating, and fifty per cent of families with children reported the same.

“Conditions in the camps are awful,” said Phillips. “I don’t know how the disabled folk are able to get around.”

Phillips’s presentation left her audience reeling, including former Emily Carr student Faith Jabs. “Honestly, after that, I felt really disgusted. I couldn’t believe it, especially the part about ten billion dollars raised and that only twenty percent of it has been spent [on the Haitians].” According to Jabs, “You need small groups of people, people who care, to go down there and [rebuild Haiti].”

Both Phillips and Roger Annis of Haiti Solidarity BC encouraged UBC students to get involved with projects in Haiti and keep themselves informed.

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