Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

FUNDING: Unravelling the conundrum of US aid to Haiti

IRIN NEW YORK  – In reporting that “not a cent” of the US$1.15 billion the US promised for Haiti reconstruction at the UN donors’ conference in March had reached the stricken nation, the Associated Press largely cast the blame on a single senator – Tom Coburn, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma who had objected to a minor provision in the legislation that authorized the spending. Coburn had “anonymously pulled” the legislation until his concerns could be addressed, the wire service reported on 28 September, and the senator was swiftly vilified by prominent liberals for sacrificing the poor of Haiti on the altar of his ongoing campaign for fiscal prudence. Comedian Jon Stewart called him an “international a**hole of mystery”, for placing a “secret hold” on the bill. MSNBC broadcaster Keith Olbermann said Coburn was “committing an atrocity against the people of […]

HAITI: “We are again exposed to catastrophe”

IRIN, AlertNet DAKAR, (IRIN) – The rain and winds signalling the start of Haiti’s storm season are already taking a toll on the makeshift shelters housing people displaced by the January earthquake, and aid agencies warn that there could be worse to come. “Tarpaulins are generally holding up better than tents, but even the best tarpaulin or best tent is not a good place to live during the rainy or hurricane season,” Timo Lüge, communications officer of the interagency group overseeing shelter, told IRIN. “Many camps get flooded each time it rains, and living conditions are dire.” Some 1.5 million displaced people are living in camps. Aid agencies are working to build sturdier, portable housing with raised floors as quickly as possible; 1,873 of a planned 120,000 transitional shelters have been built – enough to house 9,365 people – but […]

HAITI: Dying to get out

IRIN NEW YORK – The US government allows foreign citizens into the US in significant numbers “for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit”. In the past, the beneficiaries of this so-called “humanitarian parole” have been thousands of refugees from Indochina, Cuba and other countries during the cold war, most fleeing communist regimes. So far, however, the government has been far less generous in granting humanitarian parole to Haitians recovering from the 12 January earthquake. On 18 January, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would extend humanitarian parole on a case-by-base basis to children already in the process of being adopted by US citizens. Parole status has also been approved for a small number of Haitians with dire medical needs, most prominently perhaps Jenny Alexis, a two-month-old baby found in the rubble of a Port-au-Prince flat four days […]

Haiti: Women demand role in reconstruction

From IRIN Women’s civil society groups were noticeable by their absence from the landmark Haiti donor conference on 31 March, which secured pledges of US$5.3 billion over the next two years to support the country’s post-quake recovery. Their lack of a presence at the meeting was indicative of a broader missing voice in Haiti’s long-term reconstruction prospects, gender activists argued. “Why are we not there right now, where are the women at this conference?” questioned Marie St. Cyr, a Haitian human rights advocate. “We still don’t have full participation and we certainly don’t have full inclusion. Haitian women are still being raped…they are supporting more than half of the households, and yet they are not being heard.” More than 20 women’s groups attended an alternative conference hosted by MADRE, a New York-based rights organization. St. Cyr said she had lobbied […]

HAITI: Civil society wants bigger role in reconstruction

From IRIN: Humanitarian News and Analysis As the Haitian government appeals for an estimated US$11.5 billion in recovery and development funding at a UN donor conference on 31 March, NGOs – through which 65 percent of current donor contributions are channeled – are looking for a more coherent role in rebuilding the country. Ahead of the conference, a host of major civil society groups gathered at New York University on 25 March in a consultative meeting hosted by former US President Bill Clinton, who is the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, and with the European Union and InterAction, a coalition of US-based international NGOs. According to Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, civil society had a significant role in the recovery of the country after the 12 January earthquake, which killed approximately 200,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless. […]

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