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Nearly 11 months since Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, the country is still in ruins, with 1.5 million internally displaced people forced to live in crowded unsanitary conditions. Sokari Ekine reports from the Haitian blogosphere on the progress that hasn’t been made.

Haiti is now approaching 11 months into the post-earthquake period, yet the country is still in ruins with some 1.5 million internally displaced people (IDPs) being forced to live in crowded unsanitary conditions. Recently the country’s prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive said that the ‘aid pledged by foreign governments and institutions’ would not be enough for the reconstruction of the country, especially when previous debts and monies already spent were included these pledges.

‘Clearing the rubble from the quake alone would cost an estimated US$1.2 billion, Bellerive said. He added that providing decent housing to each of the total two million quake homeless and chronically destitute could itself cost US$10 billion – nearly the total being pledged by the international community for the full-blown national recovery and development program.

Unless this funds shortfall was addressed and a major influx of investment came, ‘I will have Haiti in the same situation, without food ... without nothing and without any opportunity to create development,’ Bellerive said.

There also has to be a huge shift in the cooperation between governments, institutions and NGOs involved, as well as coordination and implementation of distribution of aid and reconstruction, because from all accounts this has so far not worked. Evidence of the above is published in a recent report by the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) on the conditions in the IDP camps titled ‘We’ve Been Forgotten’, which is summarised as follows:

‘Right to Food. 75% of families had someone go an entire day without eating in the past week and over 50% indicated that their children did not eat for an entire day
- Right to Clean Water. 44% of families primarily drank untreated water
- Right to a Sanitary Environment. 27% of families defecated in a container, a plastic bag, or on open ground in the camps
- Right to Housing. 78% of families lived without enclosed shelter
- Right to Health. There were 245 independently listed health problems among 45 families
- Right to Protection From and During Displacement. 94% of families felt they could not return home while 48% had been threatened with forced eviction since the earthquake.’

To add to the already critical situation for millions of people in Haiti, a cholera outbreak which started one week ago in Saint Marc –60 miles from Port-au-Prince – has already taken 300 lives and spread to the capital.

Partners in Health reports that access to clean water and hospitals are the two major challenges in controlling the spread of the illness:

‘Access to medical facilities and clean water remain major concerns, particularly in isolated rural areas, said Dr. Ivers. Over the weekend, PIH was able to get 14 water trucks to some of the communities most in need, thanks to a partnership with the non-profit organization Yele Haiti. In addition, water purification tablets and oral rehydration salts have been widely distributed throughout the region. However, there are still many communities in the outbreak region whose only water source is the contaminated Artibonite river or rain water.

‘Complicating matters, on top of a need for clean water for general consumption, cholera patients need a particularly high volume of fluids—about 20 liters daily for each patient, said Dr. Ivers. As having access to this volume is virtually impossible in many areas, PIH is urging all suspected cases (anyone with diarrhea) to seek immediate treatment at a hospital.’

Ezili Danto raises serious questions around how cholera developed in the country and also what happened to the money donated but not distributed.

‘A chilling video testimony of brackish Red Cross water in Haiti -Cholera confirmed in Haiti capital. For another compelling testimony on Red Cross delivering filthy water to Haiti victims since the earthquake, view also: How did the Red Cross spend $106 Million Dollars in Haiti. (Ezili Dantò's note: Amongst some of the testimonies that's not clearly translated in this most valuable video: a woman standing next to a small child repeating "no, no, no," points to a water drum with a "Red Cross" sign on it and says that even the water they give is not treated. She explains that she drinks it because she has no money to buy good drinkable water but suffers right now from a stomach ache from drinking the Red Cross' polluted water.)’

Media Hacker has been at the forefront of reporting on Haiti since the earthquake mainly using Twitter (@mediahacker), but also on his blog. The UN forces in Haiti, MINUSTAH already had an appalling human rights record long before the earthquake and from this report by Media Hacker on UN drawing weapons on peaceful protests, little has changed.

‘One of the MINUSTAH fired a warning shot in the air and people panicked, ran away, yelling “Film! Film them!” The one in the photo pointed his loaded gun, finger on the trigger, at a lot of people, sweeping his arm in a big motion. Then the Haitians started chanting, “They’re shooting on us, they’re shooting on us.”

‘I feared for all our lives in those moments, but was intensely aware of the need to document what was happening. As it unfolded my mind went straight to the man killed by troops at Father Gerard Jean-Juste‘s funeral in 2009. In that instance, UN troops leveled their weapons at unarmed people—and fired. MINUSTAH denied it later, even though a Haitian TV crew had grainy footage of the whole incident.

Haiti Innovation reports on the growing sexual exploitation of Haitian children in the Dominican Republic which has increased since the earthquake.

‘Human trafficking occurs on both sides of the border. It will take a sustained, joint effort to ensure that migration is humane, orderly, and that minors are not being exploited as they are now. As the article makes clear, this will require tackling corruption within the border authorities. For more information, take a look at the U.S. State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports for the Dominican Republic and Haiti.’

Elections in Haiti are due to take place on 28 November. Elections which Fanmi Lavalas – the party of President Aristide – have been once again prevented from taking part in, despite it being the largest and most popular party in the country. Haiti-Cuba-Venezula posts an article by the CEPR (Center for Economic and Policy Research), which asks why the US is funding ‘flawed elections’.

‘Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has kept 14 political parties, including Haiti’s most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas, off electoral ballots since before April 2009, when the parties were excluded from legislative elections. In that “election,” the exclusion resulted in a boycott by more than 90 percent of the electorate. The CEP’s plans to carry over the banning of these parties to the next elections has ignitedprotests, planned boycotts, and controversy in Haiti, with some politicians, voters, and analysts complaining that the CEP’s members have largely been hand-picked by the Preval administration. Preval’s Inite party, unlike Fanmi Lavalas, will be on the November 28 ballot.

‘In a recent interview with CEPR, the CEP President, Gaillot Dorsinvil, said that the U.S. government is contributing $5 million for the elections, with another $10 million being spent by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (an NGO funded in part by the U.S. State Department and USAID) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)”

World Pulse has a special report on women, Haiti and the elections.

‘In Haiti we say these elections are a selection,” says Yolette Gentil, director of Kay Fanm, an NGO helping women who are raped find safer shelter. “It’s not possible to have an election right now. All the registration lists were destroyed. We aren’t able to know who is dead and who is alive. This is something that makes the election not serious.” She adds, “There is no transparency.”

‘In February, a destroyed Haiti postponed its planned elections, which allowed Préval to stay on. But for how long? Many inside and outside of Haiti pushed Préval to set a fall date for new elections – their barometer of democracy. But as Gentil points out, the current post-quake conditions in Haiti make citizen participation very difficult at best for candidates and voters. “This is just a pretext to force us to have elections right now under the wrong conditions,” Gentil adds.

‘Such factors reflect what Haitians call mauvaises politiques in French—bad politics, or corruption. Haiti’s CEP is widely seen as corrupt and came under early fire for excluding Fanmi Lavalas, the most popular Haitian party. Lavalas elected populist President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991 before he was overthrown, later restored to power, and then exiled to South Africa, paving the way for Préval to ascend. If Haiti had an election today, many believe Lavalas would win in a heartbeat. Instead, theteledjol, or rumor mill, is convinced that fraud will take place as it did in past elections, including questionable quarantining of ballots in 2006—Haiti’s version of the ‘hanging chad.’ Or, equally likely, very few Haitians will participate, but a winner will still be declared.’

The Haitian Blogger publishes a report that former US President, George W Bush intends to ask President Betrand Artistide to apologise for his ‘reluctance to leave the Haitian presidency at the request of the US’. This is unbelievable and I am not sure whether to take it seriously or not! Apologise for not wanting to take part in a coup against yourself – apologise for not wanting to be forcibly removed from office by a foreign government and exiled forever from your home and people?

So the conversation might go like this:

‘Greetings, Jean-Bertrand, it's George Bush here... Jr. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology some time and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my Embassy goo-oo-n… personnel. Why didn't you have the sense to leave immediately? Why did you have to be "persuaded" to sign that resignation letter and get on that plane? So what, you weren't told where we were taking you and your family? Why didn't you just trust that the U.S. had your best interest at heart when we took you "back to Africa" as it were? After all, they do speak French in the Central Republic of Africa.

‘So give it some thought and certainly pray about this... ah I know you were ex-communicated by the Catholic Church for your political activism on behalf of the poor, but still do pray on it, won't ya? Do come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day there in South Africa. Say hi to that guy who was on the terrorist watch list for most of my presidency… ah what's his name, Mande... ah something.’

But it will never happen!

Black Looks publishes two posts on Haiti, one from the Caribbean Political Economy blog and one from Ezili Danto’s blog. She writes:

‘Haitians are now dying of dirty water and insanitary conditions which they have been forced to endure for the past 10 months. Over 250,000 Haitians have already died as a result of the earthquake and now thousands more are going to die because of failures by Bill Clinton, George Bush, the UN, the Red Cross, US and other governments, and hundreds of NGOs who received $millions in donations and or are responsible for distributing the monies. For months and months questions on where is the money have been fobbed off leaving people to languish in increasingly more horrible conditions and still nothing happens. Meanwhile Bill Clinton is not in Haiti at this time of crisis. He is on his way to visit Jamaica. Norman Girvan who writes the Caribbean Political Economy Blog Bill Clinton is coming to Jamaica to speak about “humanity” and people are being asked to pay $13,000.00 for the opportunity to hear this at a posh Hotel in Kingston”. How disgustingly obscene is that?’


* Sokari Ekine blogs at Black Looks.
* Read more on this story: Donor money still bypassing Haiti's homeless and poor
* Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at Pambazuka News.