Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, has released a report on sexual violence in Haiti. Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a human rights and a public health issue as it can cause mental trauma, unwanted pregnancies, and transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Stigma remains intense in Haiti due to lack of access to justice and survivor-centered health care. In 2015, MSF opened a clinic in Port-au-Prince that specializes in providing health and psychological support to GBV survivors. Take a look at the report (available in English and French with summary below), and if you would like to support MSF, you can do so here.
A World Bank study recommends that Haiti and its donors focus less on building hospitals and more on preventative and primary care. Haiti spends less than 5 percent of its budget on health care meaning that it must prioritize. The best run hospitals have long been managed by or co-managed with non-governmental organizations. Public hospitals are in need of serious reform. Ninety pecent of operating budgets for hospitals are for payroll with an over-emphasis on administration. Decentralization could potentially empower health facilities by allowing staff to make their own budgetary and human resource decisions. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles follows.
The U.S State Department has released the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports. The Haiti Country Narrative (copied below) notes that while Haiit does not meet minimum standards for preventing and responding to TIP, it is making significant efforts to improve. This included strengthening its interministerial anti-trafficking commision, working more closely with international organizations, improving investigations and prosecutions and obtaining convinctions under the 2014 antri-trafficking law. In short, progress is being made although much more remains to be done.
Individuals and groups give more than $70 million in donations every year to hundreds of orphanages in Haiti. However, these orphanages vary wildly in terms of accountability - some are well-managed while others abuse and exploit children. Children in orphanages should have their rights respected and opportunities for a better future. It is important to remember though that most childen in Haitian orphanages are not orphans. They are children from large families that could not afford to take care of them. If their parents had consistent access to family planning, there would be far less need for orphanages in the first place. Children's Rights NGO Lumos advises that funding would be better spent on helping Haiti to develop a proper foster care and adoption system. The full article on this subject by Anastasia Moloney of the Reuters Foundation follows.
Below is a recent article in the Economist about the current state of Hait's development. The Canadian government funded the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) think tank to study the impact of different policies in Haiti - what would they cost and what would have the greatest impact? The Haitian government can't do everything at once and the intent is to help it prioritize. Interventions that come out on top include fortifying wheat flour with micrconutrients and reforming the electrical system. Learn more at the CCC website which includes a PPT presentation on the top ten proposed interventions.
As the UN Peackeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) winds down, it leaves a mixed legacy - less insecurit and better police along with an ongoing cholera epidemic and a number of Haitian women who became pregnant by U.N peacekeepers. Reuters journalist Makini Brice notes in her article below that while the United Nations has a "zero tolerance" policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, peacekeepers move on while their children grow up without any support. Haitian lawyers intend to file law suits although the timing is unclear. The United Nations has a long track record of promising but under-delivering on accountability in peace-keeping operations - how these women are treated will be an indicator of whether anything has changed.
The current administration has granted undocumented Haitians in the United States an additional six months of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), protecting them from deportation...at least for now. The Department of Homeland Security has warned that this may be the final six months of TPS and Haitians should prepare for return. It is difficult to imagine how Haiti can absorb 60,000 returnees at this point in time - especially those who would be returning to the hurricane affected Grande Anse. Due in large part to Hurricane Matthew, the economy is expected to contract ths year. Additional information follows in a Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles below.
You don't have to go to Haiti to experience live Haitian music. There are venues in Boston, New York City, Montreal, and Miami that feature Haitian music a swell as annual festivals, the best of which is Miami's Compas Festivals. It has always been outdoors, features many different musicians, and count on a large, enthusiastic audience. An article by the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles about how the the Compas Festival has evolved over the years, and the challenges it still faces, follow. More information and tickets are available here.
Below is an article by the Evening Standard's Claire Dodd about her experience visiting Haiti - not as an aid worker, missionary, or Haitian visiting family - but as a tourist. Getting around Haiti may not be easy, but for those with a sense of adventure, it is well worth it. Haiit's history of resistance, rich culture, and artistic traditions make it a unique and rewarding country to visit. People often ask how to help Haiti - but as Jean Cyril Pressoir puts it, “...if you want to help...come as a tourist. Help us break from away from this pre-conceived idea, this prejudice that has us defined as a place where you come to help. Don’t come to help us. Come to enjoy yourself.”
Director and long-time Haiti enthusiast Jonathan Demme died on April 26th. He lived a long life and, through his films, made people aware of Haiti - and more than that, its heroes. Demme was reponsible for "The Agronomist", easily my favorite film about Haiti, concerning the life of Jean Dominique - a journalist and human rights activist who gave his life for what believed in. Author and fellow Haiti enthusiast Amy Willentz writes below that best way to honor his memory is to learn about Haiti, engage, and to continue the struggle for human rights and democracy. Organize, resist, and win - it's what Demme and Dominique would have wanted.