- On January 12, 2010, Haiti experienced a calamitous earthquake.
Port-au-Prince was devastated. Property destruction and damage were extensive.
- As many as 300,000 or more died. Many others were injured.
Impoverished Haitians enduring crushing hardships lost everything, including
- Two years later, relief efforts belie unaddressed human
- A January 11 AFP article headlined, "Haiti quake
victims stuck in a time warp," saying:
- Port-au-Prince suburb Petionville symbolizes conditions.
Around "2,500 people subsist in a crowded public park near open ditches
flowing with human waste, a grim scene frozen in time two years after Haiti's
- Homeless, half-clothed, barefoot children "chase
a worn football across a filthy clearing, past puddles of putrid waste
- Over half a million survivors endure appalling conditions
in hundreds of makeshift camps. They remain homeless, struggling to survive.
- Billions in promised aid never came. Grandiose visions
proved pipe-dreams. Most rubble remains. Reconstruction is inadequate to
meet enormous needs.
- "The problems facing Haiti are vast, if not insurmountable,
in the short term." Hundreds of thousands who lost everything live
in legal limbo. Cholera's devastating thousands. Culpable UN Blue Helmets
won't accept blame.
- Understated reports show 7,000 deaths and over half a
million infected. True figures may be double or more. UN Haiti chief humanitarian
- "What we are looking at in Haiti is not just recovery
from the earthquake. It's not just dealing with a cholera epidemic. Those
came on top of a country which was structurally broken" by neglect,
persecution, and exploitive US dominance.
- One victim told AFP, "My hope is God, not the leaders
of this country" who've done pathetically little to help.
- UNICEF's Comprised Assessment
- Its new report headlines, "Children of Haiti: Two
Years After - What is changing? Who is making the change?" saying:
- "The outlook at the start of 2012 appears bright.
Positive progress in the public sector is matched by optimistic forecasts
for private sector investment, bringing a much needed boost to the local
- UNICEF admits that over 550,000 Haitians remain homeless
in crowded camps. Cholera keeps devastating thousands.
- "The vulnerability of the population remains high,
primarily as a result of stark gaps in" social services.
- Citing its own achievements, UNICEF said children show
progress in areas of education, health, nutrition, and child protection.
Nonetheless, "critical challenges remain."
- The report claims over 750,000 children back in school,
including 80,000 in "193 safe, earthquake-resistant schools constructed
by the organization. Over 120,000 children enjoy structured play in one
of the 520 child friendly spaces."
- Moreover, thousands of malnourished children got "life-saving
care in 314" UNICEF-supported "therapeutic feeding programs....And
95 rural communities have launched new programs to improve sanitation."
- Efforts to improve child protection included "the
first ever Directory of Residential Care Facilities." Over 13,400
children were registered.
- Small victories belie enormous unmet needs, including
"serious gaps and inadequacies in Haiti's basic governance structures...."
- According to UNICEF's Francoise Gruloos-Ackermans:
- "Make no mistake: the country remains (in) a fragile
state, beset by chronic poverty and under-development. Its weak institutions
leave children vulnerable to shocks and the impact of disaster."
- Adults fare no better, especially those disabled, the
elderly and ill, as well as women and young girls vulnerable to rape and
other sexual abuse in camps.
- Major Media's View
- On January 8, a New York Times editorial headlined, "Haiti's
Slow Recovery," saying:
- The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) failed to
deliver as promised. Chaired by Bill Clinton and former Haitian Prime Minister
Jean-Max Bellerive, it's focused on corporate development, not unmet human
- "A United Nations analysis showed that" almost
all aid went to private contractors, international agencies, and predatory
NGOs. They exploit Haiti for profit.
- "The Haitian government badly needs a national strategy
for creating permanent housing and jobs...."
- It also needs people oriented leaders, not Michel Martelly.
His notorious history includes longstanding ties to Haitian elites, militarists,
and Duvalierists. He's also subservient to Washington and other Western
- On January 11, Reuters also highlighted slow Haitian
- "Despite billions of dollars" in pledged aid,
"reconstruction efforts remain painstakingly slow, with only incipient
signs some progress are taking hold."
- Port-au-Prince rubble shows what ordinary Haitians face.
"Few new or renovated buildings can be seen. And throngs of Haitians
line the streets every day in a jarring reminder that (80%) of the population
is either unemployed or underemployed."
- Prime Minister Garry Conille admitted that "aid
is too scattered, (and) there is a lack of coordination," It's also
way short of amounts needed to rebuild and address human need.
- "Housing for the hundreds of thousands made homeless
by the quake remains a crucial issue." So do poverty, unemployment,
vital unmet needs, and appalling living conditions.
- Other Views
- Things remain so bad that economist Michael Clemens believes
escape is the only way to escape poverty.
- On October 14, his Center for Global Development article
written with Tejaswi Velayudhan headlined, "Migration as a Tool for
Disaster Recovery: US Policy Options," saying:
- America has no ameliorating policy. As a result, "(t)here
is scant sign of economic recovery, and a cholera (epidemic) has infected
hundreds of thousands."
- Washington simply doesn't care. Migration remains Haitians'
best option. "Four out of every five Haitians who have escaped destitution
did so by leaving...."
- On January 9, Foreign Policy contributor Charles Kenny
agreed in his article headlined, "The Haitian Migration," saying:
- Progress rebuilding and helping Haitians has been slow.
Human need remains extreme. Billions in promised aid never came. Most allocated
went to predatory foreign contractors, international agencies and NGOs.
Haitian firms got only 1.6%.
- Hundreds of thousands still suffer. A ready solution's
at hand: "migration." Undocumented Haitians in America got "temporary
protected status." Their ability to work and remit funds home "may
be the greatest contribution America has made towards Haiti's reconstruction
- Haitians qualify for temporary low-skill work visas (America's
H-2 program). However, the country isn't on Department of Homeland Security's
(DHS) approved list. Congressional approval can add it. Helping impoverished
Haitians demands it.
- Moreover, DHS can grant permanent residence visas to
"Haitians already approved for a green card....on the basis that a
family member is a US citizen." Given today's deplorable conditions,
it's the least America can do to help.
- Accurate Assessments
- On January 9, Center for Constitutional Rights lawyer
Bill Quigley headlined, "Haiti: Seven Places Where the Earthquake
Money Did and Did Not Go," saying:
- Today's Haiti "looks like the earthquake happened
two months ago, not two years." Virtually no funding "actually
went directly to Haiti." It was diverted to private contractors, other
nations, international agencies and predatory NGOs.
- America was the "largest single" beneficiary.
Haitians, domestic NGOs, and local companies got practically nothing. International
aid agencies, and "big well connected" NGOs profited handsomely.
So did private companies specializing in reconstruction and disaster relief.
- Moreover, large amounts of pledged funds never arrived,
and other allocated money wasn't used. In fact, USAID and America's State
Department spent less than 1% of "$412 million in US" infrastructure
- International aid followed the same pattern.
- The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) and Haiti
Reconstruction Fund (HRF) faired little better. As of July 2011, only $84
million of IHRC's approved projects worth $3.2 billion was spent. In addition,
only five were completed. HRF performed so poorly that its mandate wasn't
renewed last October.
- In contrast, a "Haiti First policy could strengthen
public systems, promote accountability, create jobs, and build" local
skills. Eventually, Haitians will have to help themselves. They're deserve
direct aid to begin trying.
- On January 10, Center for Economic and Policy Research
(CEPR) Co-Director Mark Weisbrot called conditions in Haiti dire. As a
result, the lives of most Haitians haven't improved "and in many cases
- At issue, is international unaccountability. "It
is hard to see how the situation today is any better than a year ago. In
many areas, such as provision of sanitation facilities and housing to internally
displaced persons (IDPs), there has been very little improvement."
- Moreover, cholera infected "hundreds of thousands
more Haitians during the past year, and killed thousands, with no end yet
- Neglect, indifference, unaccountability and injustice
ravage today's Haiti. Vital aid's inadequate. Prioritizing housing, sanitation,
healthcare, clean water, and other essentials is long overdue.
- Instead, Blue Helmet occupation militarized Haiti. People
hate them and want them out. Imagine if MINUSTAH's budget went for people
needs. It's an idea whose time has come. In fact, it long ago arrived.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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