On February 13th, a fire killed thirteen children and two adult caretakers at a "children's home" that the U.S based Church of Bible Understanding supported in Haiti. I want to be clear that there are some faith-based groups doing heroic work for health, education, and social justice in Haiti. There are, however, as many unscruplous organisations who see children as a way to fund-raise salaries, overhead, while providing little for the kids themselves. Orphanages are money-makers and thus are plentiful, numbering oven 700. Many of these children are abused and exploited in the name of God and money. If these organisations were really interested in helping, they would make familly planning available so parents have no more children than they want or can afford, would support families to take care of the children they already have, and expand adoption/foster networks for children who have no family to take them in. The church refuses to comment on the allegations of children who have come forward to say they were abused. The full article by AP journalists Michael Weissenstein and Ben Fox follows.
It can take years or even decades for countries to recover from major disasters. The aim is to build back better over time so the country becomes more resilient, better able to prevent and respond to a wide range of hazards. Haiti remains just as vulnerable to major disasters as it was when the earthquake hit ten years ago. There is not an improved building code nor a resourced and widely understood national emergency response plan nor drills to operationalize and refine such plans. Haiti remains consumed by political instability, the root of which is the lack of an effective, accountable government that invests in its people. Donors have become frustrated and less interested - that is until the next major disaster happens, which eventually it will. An article below by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles and Jose Iglesias traces what has happened since 2010 and why.
The next Haiti Tech Summit will take place from June 20-23 at the Decameron Beach Resort at the Cote des Arcadins. Participants will include investors, government officials, and entrepeneurs both in Haiti and the Haitian Diaspora. Click here for more information and to purchase your tickets. The agenda, speakers, sponsors, and partners are listed below. Any questions can be directed to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haiti has long had a sanitation problem, being one of a very small number of countries where sanitation worsened over the last twenty five years. Port au Prince, its largest city, has no central sewage system and is unlikely to ever have one. There are other models for sewage management but implementing them without good governance, the rule of law, and a well-informed public is, as with anything else, challenging. However, there are champions for improving sanitation both within and outside the Haitian government. The full NPR article by Rebecca Hersher follows.
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is mandated to release annual country-specific human rights reports that address individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 2015 report for Haiti is linked and copied below. There have been some modest improvements from last year - for example in improving oversight of the police. However, there is a long way to go in reforming the justice system, corrections, and protecting the rights of women, children, and the disabled. Post your thoughts about human rights in Haiti below.
Solutions to displacement take time, coordination and resources. According to a recent update by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the total number of households living in camps has decreased by 92 percent compared to four and a half years ago. The government-led rental subsidy program, supported by IOM and donors, has been instrumental in helping households transition. For more information, view the full report.
The Brookings Institution and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently released a report analyzing solutions for those who remain displaced in Port-au-Prince. A key message is that solutions involve more than just closing camps. Solutions happen over the long-term and require the participation of governments, humanitarians, development agencies and the displaced. The executive summary is below and you can read the full report here.
The UN has released its 2014 Humanitarian Action Plan for Haiti. While 89% of camp residents have moved out and significant progress has been made against cholera, significant challenges remain such as halting environmental degradation and reducing vulnerability to disasters. The plan focuses on meeting the basic needs of those remaining in the camps, addressing the cholera epidemic, increasing food security, and strengthening the leadership and capacity of national authorities. A summary of the plan follows.
Below is an article by Ezra Fieser and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning a Dominican court ruling denying citizenship to Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants. Many of them have never been to Haiti but nevertheless will be denied access to education and opportunities as they lack citizenship from the country where they were born and raised. Haiti has recalled its Ambassador and protests are planned by human rights activists.
Below is a New York Times article by David Gonzales concerning a photo exhibit and book by Paolo Woods entitled “State” – the idea of it vs. the reality, how/if it is a part of everyday life, and how society is organized when the capacity of the state to govern is minimal. Based out of Les Cayes, Woods explored these questions through his journalism and photography. Haiti has often been a victim of lazy journalism and sensational photography that over-emphasizes the bad without seeking the good. Woods consistenly sees the good, the positive, and the hopeful, making his exhibit and book worth a look.