As the situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate, 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. According to UNICEF, this includes almost 3 million children, the highest on record. Gang violence, food insecurity made worse by climate change, natural disasters, a lack of basic services, and disease outbreaks such as cholera together present major security, humanitarian, and development challenges for Haiti and the international community. Meetings have been called by the United Nations, CARICOM, and partner countries to urge increased support, without which it could yet become much worse. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles follows.
Insecurity in Port au Prince and beyond continues to negatively impact the economy, health care, and other basic services throughout the country. MSF/Doctors Without Borders, which operates in insecure environments around the world, has temporarily shut down a second time. Due to lack of fuel, clinics are suspending operations - this at a time, when cholera cases are increasing. The UN is calling for a humanitarian corridor through which both fuel and aid workers can transit safely. It wouldn't solve the fundamental problems but it would at least reduce the severity fo the current situation. The full article article by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald follows.
Gangs in Port au Prince thrive when there is an absence of governance, no rule of law, and economic stagnation. The UN has described current levels of gang violence as unprecedented and affecting all aspects of life - for example, 11 medical centers and 442 schools have closed. National roads connecting Port-au-Prince to the rest of the country are dangerous, limiting the movement of people and goods. While the security situation continues to deteriorate Haiti's developmental issues remain unaddressed - environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure and investment, poor basic services, and unrelenting brain drain. Security is not enough to address these underlying problems but it is a prerequisite - and the gangs will not give up territory willingly. The full CNN article follows.
Protests, taking place throughout the country, have negatively affected the economy and the ability of schools and clinics to function. While this is regrettable, protestors are fighting for a government that is more accountable, more responsive, and that invests in the people rather than enriching themselves. Without that, nothing will change for the better. High level leaders hide while sending out the security forces, who as demonstrated by Amnesty International, have committed abuses on numerous occassions. This is unacceptable - visit the Amnesty International website to read the full report and see accompanying videos.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Haitian and Canadian governments launched a maternal and child health initiative today, a continuation and expansion of two existing programs. Even prior to the earthquake, Haiti was a difficult place to be a mother or a young child. Through this initiative, mothers and children under five receive basic care without cost. The intent is to progressively scale up this initiative to 90 health care facilities throughout the country. The full press release follows.
Established in Jacmel in 1987, the mission of PAZAPA (Step by Step) is to support the treatment, education and development of children with disabilities and to integrate them into their communities. During the earthquake, the PAZAPA School was damaged beyond repair. PAZAPA has since acquired new land and established temporary structures within which to continue classes. Both the special education school and the school for the deaf are functioning. Fortunately, none of the PAZAPA staff were hurt and stipends were provided to help them rebuild their homes. Below are excerpts from PAZAPA’s recently completed 2010 Annual Report.
Without a doubt, post earthquake Haiti was a complex and difficult humanitarian situation. However, the response could have been much better. Below is a blog by Simon Levine which asks why we have not learned from past emergencies and why it is that we may not learn from this one as well. Immediately after is a special issue of Humanitarian Exchange, published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which explores the experiences of humanitarian actors involved in the earthquake response.
The Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP) has recently launched a Haiti Portal. The portal will include evaluations of the Haiti response and other online resources. In addition, it will provide participants an opportunity to discuss what is going well and what needs to be improved. Haiti is still teetering between emergency response and reconstruction. There are many issues that require further attention and action, first so we can improve efforts underway in Haiti and second to do a better job the next time a major urban disaster occurs. Below is a summary of just a few of these issues.