Wednesday, August 31, 2011


(New York Times) - By Randal C. Archibold

CHENE, Dominican Republic — They have been blamed for spreading cholera, taking jobs and driving up crime, and now, with memories of the earthquake and the bonhomie it generated rapidly fading, this country is taking action: it is deporting Haitian refugees, turning them away from the border and generally making their lives difficult.

Benie Boner was photographed and fingerprinted last month in Chene, Dominican Republic, as part of the International Organization for Migration's project to help Haitian refugees repatriate.

The police and military near the border, with little more to go on than darker skin color and a failure to produce identification, have stopped cars and buses and forced them to Haiti, human rights groups say. The Dominicans also are using a new law to deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants and deport people who had been born and lived here for years, advocacy groups contend.

The deportations are a sign of impatience with the limping recovery in Haiti and the waning international sympathy for its enduring troubles. Haiti and its international donors are far behind in helping the hundreds of thousands still living in makeshift camps and the millions without formal jobs, a crisis worsened by a political stalemate that has blocked Haiti’s new president, Michel Martelly, from forming a new government more than 100 days after taking office.

“It’s kind of an unsolvable issue,” said Robert Maguire, a Haiti scholar at George Washington University. “The truth is when Haitians leave, to the Dominican Republic and other places, they tend to do well or at least better than in Haiti, so they keep leaving.”

Several countries bestowed an effective grace period on Haitian migrants and refugees after the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, but that appears to be ending. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently urged countries to reverse a new wave of deportations to Haiti because conditions remain precarious there.

Haiti “cannot yet ensure adequate protection or care especially for some vulnerable groups in case of return,” the statement said.

Deportees have also come from Jamaica and the Bahamas, according to aid organizations in Haiti. The United States resumed deporting Haitians several months after the quake, and American immigration officials say they expect to deport some 700 this year, focusing on people convicted of crimes.

Dominican officials say they have borne the brunt of both quake refugees and recent economic migrants, adding to a steady flow of people from Haiti who have slipped through the porous border for decades to cut sugar cane, harvest coffee beans, work construction and do other low-wage jobs.

Last week, José Ricardo Taveras, the nation’s new immigration director, a member of a political party known for its hard line on immigration, lashed out at the United Nations for failing to slow the influx. Last month, he cited estimates of the 500,000 or more Haitians in this country, telling local journalists that “nobody can resist an invasion of that nature” and that thousands of Haitians had been deported.

Right after the earthquake, the Dominican Republic, a nation with a history of both conflict and cooperation with Haiti, its poorer sibling on the island of Hispaniola, was among the first to offer aid. It sent teams to assess the damage and deliver food and medicine, eased visa requirements to allow the injured into Dominican hospitals and opened staging areas for relief shipments.

The good will was a welcome departure from the notorious low points between the neighbors — most notably the massacre of thousands of Haitians by the Dominican military in 1937 — and raised hopes of a tighter bond.

But the unemployment rate is high here — at about 14 percent last year, it is among the highest in Latin America — and cholera, which has killed nearly 6,000 in Haiti since October, has killed more than 90 in the Dominican Republic, many of them Haitian migrants.

This spring, banners sprang up in Santiago, Mr. Taveras’s hometown, calling on Haitians to go home. Protests erupted over the refugees’ presence, and a number of migrants fled.

“We are defending our sovereignty because Dominican manpower has been practically eliminated in construction,” Juan Francisco Consuegra, a community leader there, told reporters during a demonstration.

The tension became pitched enough that the International Organization for Migration offered a way out: paying Haitians $50 apiece, plus additional relocation assistance, to go home willingly. More than 1,500 have gone back through the program.

“Anything is better than the conditions we are in now,” said Bernier Noel, who registered to leave. The earthquake flattened his house in Haiti. Now he cannot wait to return.

Mr. Noel arrived here with friends a few months after the earthquake, after hearing that jobs and money were plentiful. He lives in a lean-to, bathes in bug-infested water and picks coffee beans at an unrelenting pace under an unforgiving sun for about $3 a day.

Never did he imagine that the devastation he saw in Haiti would seem a step up, but at least there are friends willing to take him in while he tries to revive a meager business selling shoes on the street.

Dominican officials said they had gone out of their way to assuage the crisis in Haiti. The deportations, they insist, are aimed at recent arrivals and, in the case of numerous children found to have been smuggled in to beg or work as prostitutes, have been done with the help of nongovernmental organizations.

Alejandra Hernández, the minister counselor at the Dominican Embassy in Washington, said Dominican health authorities spent more than $11 million for emergency aid in the month after the earthquake, and $27 million in 2010. But refugees are now an economic burden, Ms. Hernández said, using health, police and other services.

Their arrival “follows a long-established pattern of economic migration, which for years has placed great demands on our country’s capacity,” she said, noting that in the first half of 2010, one-sixth of all live births in her country’s public hospitals were to Haitian mothers.

For Haitians in the Dominican Republic, life is getting tougher, which may be the point.

Gabriel G. Teodoro, 31, said he lost his job as a messenger at a law firm because he could not renew his national identity card. Although born in the Dominican Republic — and ignorant of the Haitian language or culture — he was turned away at the immigration office under the new law because his parents were illegal immigrants, Mr. Teodoro said.

“This country benefits from our labor, but I am being denied because of my Haitian heritage,” he said. His is one of dozens of cases human rights advocates are appealing.

On a recent morning here, a stream of Haitian migrants walked out from their hovels in the brush to fill a church and register to leave under the International Organization for Migration’s program.

Pedite François came clutching his 14-month-old daughter, Cedita. “It is hard to find work,” he said. “A day without work is a day without food.”


(FCIR) - By Whitney Phillips, Cronkite Borderlands Initiative

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – While politicians in at least 14 states are arguing the merits of birthright citizenship in the U.S., this country is already ruling out citizenship for thousands of people.

Over the past seven years, the Dominican government has re-written its Constitution, re-interpreted old laws and passed new ones, effectively eliminating birthright citizenship. Today, a child born in the Dominican Republic is no longer automatically a citizen; citizenship goes only to those who can prove they have at least one documented parent.

Further, vigorous enforcement of the new rules means that hundreds of thousands of people, mostly of Haitian descent, are finding it increasingly difficult to get access to their birth certificates, which are required to get married, obtain a high school diploma, start a business, get a driver’s license or passport or even sign up for a phone plan. It is also needed to get a cédula, the national identity card that is essential for voting and conducting a licensed business activity such as banking.

Without proper documentation, these residents have no legal status in the Dominican Republic, and many who have been in this country for years are unable to prove they are legal citizens of Haiti, either.

They are, in effect, stateless – citizens of no country.

Cristobal Rodríguez, a Dominican human rights attorney and law professor, puts it another way: “Here a civil genocide is being committed,” he said.

No Future

Miledis Juan looks down at her 1-year-old son Henry, his nose running and eyes swollen from a cold. His arms stretch upward, and Juan picks him up.

She and her son were both born in this country, and that, Juan says, gives them every right to be Dominican citizens. But the Dominican government has another view of the matter, and that leaves Juan worried about her son’s future and her own.

“He practically doesn’t exist,” she said. “Without documents you are nobody.”

Dominican officials say the country’s laws were never meant to grant birthright citizenship to the children or descendants of illegal immigrants. And they argue against the term “stateless” as applied to those of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic.

José Ángel Aquino, a magistrate for the country’s civil registry, the Junta Central Electoral, said Haitian descendants can go back to Haiti and obtain citizenship as long as they can prove their parents are Haitian.

“Because of this, in the case of the Haitians, for us, you can’t speak of the ‘stateless,’” Aquino said in Spanish. “These Haitian citizens always have the possibility of declaring themselves in their consulate…or simply in Haiti.”

But for many Haitian immigrants, like Juan, the situation is more complex.

Born in December 1985 when laws and attitudes were different, Juan was granted a Dominican birth certificate and a national identification card. She has no papers proving she is from Haiti, and to become a naturalized Haitian citizen, she would have to go through a five-year application process, said Liliana Gamboa, a project director for the Open Society Justice Initiative in Santo Domingo.

Besides, Juan doesn’t want Haitian citizenship; she has never lived in the country. “I know that Haiti exists because there is a map that I can see where it is, but I actually have no connections with it,” she said.

Her life is in Batey Esperanza, a poor, mostly Haitian-Dominican community just outside the nation’s capital, Santo Domingo, where she works long days at an embroidery machine in a free-trade zone.

Although she went to college to become a teacher, she is unable to get a teaching job because she can’t get a new copy of her birth certificate. The country’s civil registries retain every citizen’s original birth certificate and issue duplicates upon request. Official duplicates are necessary for every legal act, from applying to a university and purchasing property to obtaining a marriage license and securing most jobs. Each duplicate can be used for only one purpose and expires in a few months.

Juan said that when she went to the civil registry, she was told her she should never have been registered as a Dominican citizen because her parents came without documents from Haiti.

“Practically, my hands are tied,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do because without that birth certificate, I’m paralyzed.”

She also needs her birth certificate to get Henry one of his own. Without it, he cannot access public health services or attend school past the eighth grade.

“My biggest fear is that he’s in the country without documents,” Juan said. “He is nobody in the country.”

Changing the Ground Rules

Before birthright citizenship was abolished, the Dominican Constitution stated that anyone born in the country was a citizen, with the exception of children born to people “in transit,” a term generally interpreted to mean those in the country fewer than 10 days. The first of the changes passed in 2004 redefined “in transit” to mean those in the country illegally. A year later, the Dominican Supreme Court upheld the 2004 law as constitutional.

Six years later, the Dominican government revised its Constitution to further limit citizenship. Since Jan. 26, 2010, citizens must prove they have at least one parent of Dominican nationality to be recognized.

At the same time, the Junta Central Electoral, which oversees the civil registries, issued an order known as Circular 17, which directs government employees not to give duplicates of birth certificates and other identity documents if they have any reason to believe the person should not have Dominican citizenship.

According to Gamboa, this means the JCE “decides …if you are worthy of your documentation” and has led to the targeting of people with French-sounding last names and dark skin.

That’s what Modesta Michel believes happened to her. Michel applied for her national ID card when she turned 18 in 2007. Cédulas are issued at age 18 and must be renewed every six years or when the government issues a new version.

At first, all went well. She had an approved copy of her birth certificate, and the civil registry office approved her cédula, giving her a receipt that verified the information that would appear on her identification card.

But then she was told that she would not get the official, laminated card after all because her parents immigrated from Haiti, she said.

And shortly after, when she needed a copy of her birth certificate to take the national test for a high school diploma, that, too, was denied, she said.

“Every year goes by, and I sometimes feel like hope is going away, but I have to trust God that eventually this will get solved because studying is the only way that I can actually move forward in life,” Michel said through a translator. “It’s the only option that I have.”

Mounting Challenges

Government officials say Circular 17 simply upholds the original intent of the Constitution. People who are in the country illegally were never meant to have Dominican citizenship and some have gotten it only because of errors and corruption on the part of civil registry employees, JCE magistrate Aquino said.

But many advocates for the stateless, including Gamboa, contend that retroactive application of the new law is forbidden by international treaties to which the Dominican Republic is party, including the American Convention on Human Rights under the Organization of American States.

The Open Society Justice Initiative and other human rights organizations have begun fighting the changes in court. They won a key victory in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in 2005 with Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, which led to the granting of Dominican citizenship to two young girls of Haitian descent.

More recently, they’ve taken up the case of Emildo Bueno. Born in the Dominican in 1975, he had several citizenship documents, including a birth certificate and passport. Even so, in 2007 when Bueno went to obtain a copy of his birth certificate for a visa to join his wife in the U.S., he was turned down because his parents were Haitian nationals.

With Rodríguez, the Dominican human rights attorney, representing him, Bueno took his case to a Dominican national court in 2008, claiming a violation of his basic human right to nationality. The case was unsuccessful.

“In spite of all evidence and proof and the fact that legally I was good, the judge took a decision against me,” Bueno said in Spanish.

He submitted an appeal to the Dominican Supreme Court in 2009, but the court has yet to rule. Meanwhile, Francisco Quintana, a deputy program director and litigator for the Center for Justice and International Law, has submitted the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Gamboa said a favorable ruling from the international could draw attention to the problem and pressure the Dominican government into changing its policies.

“At the end of the day, it will be political pressure that will bring the result we expect, which is the recognition of nationality of people of Haitian descent,” she said.

But in the meantime, they have another worry. The Dominican Republic is working on a new national identity card system aimed at eliminating fraudulent citizenship by requiring residents to submit fingerprints and biometric photos that are entered into a national data bank. Aquino said the JCE has received fingerprints and photos from 4 million people so far.

The JCE is “15 years behind” in fully implementing the system, Aquino, said, but is working hard to make up the time. He said the JCE also has presented a proposal to the Dominican government asking for approval to do a full “biometric census” of all foreigners in the country.

Gamboa and other human rights activists fear that these new programs will lead to every person of Haitian descent being classified as illegal.

“The problem is going to be huge,” Gamboa said. “I hope, and maybe I have faith, that it will not happen, that the DR realizes before that that it cannot commit such a crime.”

“I think people without an identity, without a nationality, are really the ones who are most unprotected in the world,” she added. “When no country wants to recognize you as a citizen, then there’s nobody to protect you.”

Though the political situation for Haitian immigrants and their children has been bleak, there may be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Aquino said that he supports a regularization program for Haitian workers. In late July another JCE magistrate, Eddy Olivares, said in a televisions interview that the children of Haitian immigrants should be given identity papers — especially those that came to the Dominican Republic under labor agreements with Haiti. He further stated that the Dominican Republic’s immigration agency, not the JCE, has the authority to make decisions on the validity of identity documents and the JCE, therefore, should not be invalidating documents because a person’s parents are immigrants. In the end, however, a major political and legislative shift would have to occur, throughout the Dominican government, to turn the tide against immigrant rights.

Their Future

There isn’t much Juan, Michel or Bueno can do while citizenship continues to be redefined in the country of their birth.

Juan goes to work each day at the clothing factory, although she would much rather be teaching.

Bueno made it to the U.S. after finally obtaining his visa. He works at a security company in Florida while his case for Dominican citizenship is being appealed. He has temporary residence in the U.S., but has no official citizenship anywhere.

Bueno spoke for them all when he said, “We have no country now.”

Along with thousands of others, they hope they are not wrong when they call themselves Dominican.



NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy says the Baltimore-based hospital ship USNS Comfort is finishing up a five-month humanitarian mission to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The Comfort is scheduled to stop in Norfolk on Friday before making its way back to Baltimore.

The ship's crew provided medical, dental, veterinary care and engineering support in nine countries while it was deployed. The Navy says the ship's crew treated more than 70,000 people both ashore and on board the Comfort's medical treatment facility.

The ship's final stop was in Haiti, which was also the site of its most recent deployment in support of international relief efforts following the devastating earthquake there in January 2010.

Comfort is scheduled to stay in Norfolk through Sept. 8.


(Haiti Libre) -

In its latest report, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that the camp population in Haiti was about 594,800, distributed in 894 camps, at the end of July 2011; representing a decrease of about 6% compared to May 2011 (634,807).

Despite the decrease in the numbers, the departure from the camps has slowed compared to the report of the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) of May 2011, which indicates that alternative housing is becoming more difficult to find for the displaced.

"In the last six months, the pace of exit from camps has slowed down considerably and most of those now in camps were renters before the quake," declared Luca Dall'Oglio, IOM Haiti Chief of Mission. "Also, the number of former camp residents who departed without appropriate housing remains unacceptably high and they were driven out primarily by push factors such as poor living conditions in the camp, rain, insecurity, crime, and evictions."

In some cases, Haitian officials have paid the victims so that they can leave the camps. But often these people have nowhere to go and eventually erect a tent or a shack in another unsafe camp of the capital. Although the transition to self-management has shown some success, there is growing pressure to deliver housing solutions for the internally displaced.

The Haitian government has developed a comprehensive proposal that would lead to the closure of six of the largest camps and rehabilitate 16 to return to communities.

Damien Jusselme responsible for monitoring and evaluation of the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) added that the various needs faced by these people are funding needs; a housing subsidy.

The IOM says that the new program that it will help to implement in Haiti, will help to reduce this problem by paying the rent of the victims in new homes, rather than pay them money directly so that they leave. To this end, the program will use money from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to pay the rent for a year to some 1,200 families currently living in two parks of Petionville, said Leonard Doyle, spokesman for IOM.


(Haiti Libre) -

Medical residents of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH) announced yesterday the resumption of activities for Wednesday. Dr Gabriel Timothée, Director General of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) has welcomed this decision and took the opportunity to formally deny the rumors circulating about the closure of the HUEH.

"There is no project planned for a possible closure for any period at the General Hospital. It is a distortion of the initial information. People have misunderstood or have voluntarily chosen, by bad faith to to misinterpret it [...] For now, meetings on this issue are continuing between the leaders of MSPP and the various components of the hospital to find the best way to proceed."

Following the agreement signed in September 2010 for the rehabilitation of HUEH, France and the United States will co-fund this project [for a period of 4 to 5 years] at a cost of $53 million including $3.2 million from the Government of Haiti. Phase I of this project was officially launched in late July 2011.

During this event, Dr. Alix Lassègue, Executive Director of the HUEH declared, "we will demolish all the buildings that were badly damaged and that can no longer be used. For example, the Pediatrics building, the laboratory, part of the department of internal medicine, water towers, part of the outpatient clinic. In the next months all of these buildings will be demolished."


(Haiti Libre) -

President Michel Martelly inaugurated yesterday, the new premises of the College Andrew Grene, located in the "Village of Haitians repatriated", in Cité Soleil.

The Head of State sent his compliments to the Digicel Foundation and to the Andrew Grene Foundation, who have built this school in partnership, in favor of the underprivileged children of Haiti. "All efforts that are aimed to the performance and general education will benefit from my entire support", asserted the President. He has argued in favor of compulsory education for all children .... "their place is in the schools." He did not fail to deplore the lack of school infrastructure as is the case in Duvivier, a neighborhood populated by some 20,000 inhabitants, and of the entire commune of Cité Soleil.

An insufficiency, which is found in the words of Professor Guerrier Jean Robert, Director of the Presbyteral School of Duvivier. He says that the poverty of the inhabitants of the city slows down the functioning of schools. For him, the College Andrew Grene represents the "first school of value" that can accommodate young people until the terminal class since the teaching in other educational institutions of the commune stop at the ninth year of basic education (Secondary 4) with a "poor" education or beacause the parents could not afford to pay for "qualified" teachers.

Despite the obstacles, the President of the Republic wants to increase efforts to make schools accessible to all Haitian children. He announced that the program of free education will be applied to the College Andrew Grene. A gesture applauded by the students, whose parents will not have any school fees to pay to the direction of the institution for the upcoming school year. Indeed, school fees will be paid up to 50% by the Foundation Andrew Grene and 50% by the Haitian Government.

In addition, President Martelly committed to sponsor, along with Digicel, student Aїs Strudley Rose Lundjie (15 years), who presented a paper she wrote about the importance of quality education in the country. The Head of State has decided to sponsor her to stimulate other young people to covet excellence.


(Haiti Libre) -

At the meeting of the Superior Council of the National Police (CSPN), held last Saturday, President Michel Martelly gave firm instructions to all security forces to fight against insecurity.

Following this meeting, Aramick Louis, Secretary of State for Public Security, deplored the situation of insecurity in Haiti.

"... [...] the Government, the public force and also all the citizens deplore the situation of insecurity in the country. For this reason, a set of measures have been taken both at the government level, and by the police, to reassure the public. We are very concerned with what happens.

The measures that will be taken are aimed to protect the population and ensure that the criminal acts do not continue, as they currently are. At the level of the police, there is a better visibility. There will be a greater visibility. There will also be a work of strengthening of controls that work against kidnapping in the country. All these decisions came out of the meeting of the Superior Council of the National Police (CSPN), which was held on Saturday. A meeting during which the President of the Republic had taken part and he gave very firm instructions to all the forces, so that we act with the greatest vigor, that we strengthen the intelligence service and also our operations, to put an end to this situation.

At the same time, we call for citizen participation. We believe that lasting results cannot be achieved without a real participation of the citizens. [...] In the past, in our country, there was a solidarity, a citizen vigilance... today we have an obligation because of a series of criminal acts [...] I do not want to single out Haiti. I do not want that everyone thinks that it is only in Haiti that there is insecurity. Today, criminality is transnational. That is why everyone should help the public forces, to enable us to provide the appropriate responses to these questions..."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


(AP) -

PORT-AU-PRINCE — A U.S. citizen who was kidnapped last week from his home in Haiti's capital was freed Tuesday after police surrounded his captors' hideout, a Haitian police official said.

Frank Jean-Baptiste was rescued by a special police squad at a home in a hillside shantytown south of Port-au-Prince, said Francois Dossous, head of Haiti's anti-kidnapping unit. The kidnappers detected police moving in and fled, he said.

Jean-Baptiste was found unharmed and police took him into custody to ensure his safety.

Kidnappers had demanded a $300,000 ransom but nothing was paid, Dossous said.

Jean-Baptiste was seized last week at his home by men posing as employees of a package delivery service.

The Haitian-American is married to the director of a private school for the children of diplomats and wealthy Haitians.

The abduction raised concerns that kidnappings could be on the rise in Haiti. It happened the same week that a well-known notary was snatched from his BMW, and his body was found in the street a day later.

Police responded by setting up roadblocks throughout the capital but they have not announced any arrests.

After the abductions, the U.S. Embassy warned Americans working in Haiti to remain alert and provided tips on what to do if kidnapped.

Kidnappings in Haiti were once rare but they became commonplace in the crowded capital after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was toppled in 2004. The country typically sees a spike in the number of abductions as the Christmas season approaches.


( - By Mark Weisbrot

Individual Americans donated a total of $1.4bn after the 2010 earthquake, yet 600,000 Haitians are still living in tents. Why?

At a sprawling internally displaced persons (IDP) camp of battered tents and tarps, in the Barbancourt neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, a confrontation was underway. A landlord, who claimed ownership over land on which some 75 families had been living since the earthquake, was very angry. A crowd of hundreds had gathered and a man in his thirties said that the landlord had beaten him and destroyed his tent.

"These people have been here for 19 months and I want them out of here!" the landlord shouted. He was yelling in English now because a group of activists had arrived, including the actor and human rights campaigner Danny Glover. They were defending the camp residents, but the landlord wasn't having it.

Meanwhile, a group of heavily armed troops from Minustah – the UN military force that has occupied the country for the past seven years – came on the scene. They were tense and sweating in the morning heat, and as the confrontation continued and the crowd spilled into the street, another contingent of troops arrived, bringing the total to about 15.

Finally, a well-known human rights lawyer, Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), showed up. He explained to the landlord – in another heated argument – that there was a legal and judicial process for evictions, and that as a matter of law, people could not be evicted without a court decision. The standoff came to an end, for the moment, as residents returned to the camp to avoid being locked out and possibly losing their possessions.

Nineteen months after the earthquake, almost 600,000 Haitian people are still living in camps, mostly under tents and tarps. Despite the billions of dollars of aid pledged by governments and donors since the earthquake, there are probably less than 50,000 that have been resettled. And for the 600,000 homeless, the strategy seems to be moving in the direction of evictions – without regard as to where they might end up.

"The government, in collaboration with international donors and some NGOs, is trying to pretend that there is no land," says Etant Dupain, an activist with the group Bri Kouri Nouvel Gaye (Noise Travels, News Spreads). His group is organising to stop the evictions, and he was present at the confrontation in Barbancourt on Saturday, where he tried to defuse the confrontation by talking to the landlord, whom he happened to know. "But there is land," Dupain said to the landlord. "They gave a big piece of land to Minustah, and this was cultivated land."

Indeed, this seems to be the heart of the problem: the international donors, led by the US, do not seem to care enough to resolve the problem by "building back better", as President Clinton promised after the earthquake. Or building much of anything, really. (Clinton heads up the Haiti Interim Recovery Commission – which, until recently, was called the Haiti Interim Reconstruction Commission; he is also the UN's special envoy to Haiti.)

A visit to another IDP camp called Corail, about 12 miles outside Port-au-Prince, makes this lack of commitment clear. About 10,000 people live in "transitional shelters", which are made of plywood and have a cement floor and corrugated steel roof. It's not exactly a house, but is a huge step-up from a tent or tarp, which floods in the rain and can be entered with a razor blade. The shelters are about 18sq m each and designed to last three to five years. Just across the fence, another 60,000 people are surviving in tents and tarps.

Building transitional housing would not be a long-term solution to the problem – people need to be resettled in permanent homes, and equally importantly, they need jobs – but transitional housing could be built for the entire IDP population at a cost of around $200m. This should be doable, considering that international donors have pledged $5.6bn since the earthquake (pdf).

But to do this, the government would have to acquire the necessary land. This is entirely constitutional, in many countries including the United States, and compensation could be provided to the landowners. Land ownership is, of course, very poorly documented in Haiti, but that is no excuse. The land could be acquired first and the owners compensated as their claims are settled. That is where the will is lacking, and the "international community" should bear most of the responsibility here, because in reality they are in charge.

Meanwhile, landowners – or those who claim to own the land which is occupied by about 1000 IDP camps – have stepped up their efforts at evictions, often through violence and coercion. Some have hired thugs with machetes and knives to destroy tents. In the Port-au-Prince suburb of Delmas, the mayor has ordered police to deploy, without a legal order to evict, destroying tents and using force to evict the residents – the majority of whom are women and children. With the compliance of NGOs, they have sometimes even cut off water supplies. In late May, a 63-year-old woman was killed when a security guard working for the landowner knocked her to the ground in the camp of Orphee Shada.

Some 94% of IDP camp residents have said they would leave if they could, according to a recent Intentions Survey from the International Organisation for Migration. They just have no place to go.

Half of all American households donated money to Haiti after the earthquake, for a total of $1.4bn in private donations; and the US Congress has appropriated more than $1bn in addition. Why can't this money be used to provide shelter for the victims of the earthquake, 19 months later?


(Miami Herald) - By Jacqueline Charles

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Fourteen-day-old Alexandro Joseph has never seen a doctor and 7-month-old Lovemika Belzi has suffered from diarrhea since the day she was born.

In the sprawling camps that continue to dot this broken capital after last year’s devastating earthquake, health and human rights officials warn of an another crisis: an explosion of tent babies.

“The camps are not an appropriate place for delivery and not for a newborn,’’ said Olivia Gayraud, health and nutrition manager for Save the Children’s Port-au-Prince field office, which works with pregnant women in five camps. “You have win, rain, mosquitoes and cholera. The conditions of the life of these families with newborns are very difficult. It can be a disaster.’’

Even before Haiti’s killer January 2010 earthquake, more women died before, during and after childbirth — and more babies died before their fifth birthday — than anywhere in the Americas.

Twenty months after the disaster, the crisis has triggered a breakdown of Haiti’s social fabric and made an already vulnerable population of girls and women even more desperate amid a population spike in the tent cities.

“There is usually a (pregnancy) peak after carnival,’’ Gayraud said, referring to the pre-Lenten debauchery. “It seems though that we are now always in a peak.’’

Haiti’s tent baby phenomenon comes as the country continues to struggle to rebuild, and as the nearly 600,000 Haitians still living in hundreds of squalid camps in quake-ravaged communities see the avalanche of medical assistance from foreign doctors and nongovernmental organizations disappear.

“We have NGOs telling us, we are packing up and leaving at the end of this month,’’ said Emmanuel Schneider, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who blames a lack of funding for the departures. “Of the $300 million consolidated appeal the U.N. system is requesting to cover humanitarian needs, only 52 percent has been funded.’’

The lack of funding means less access to prenatal and maternal healthcare in a country that was already struggling to get women to deliver in hospitals instead of at home, said Sylvain Groulx, Haiti’s chief of mission for Doctors Without Borders, which runs a maternity hospital for high-risk pregnancies in Delmas 33.

“Haiti has been suffering in terms of health services for many, many years,’’ he said. “The lack of services has been compounded by the earthquake, especially for people living in Port-au-Prince, Carrefour and Leogane.’’

Population explosions after a disaster are nothing new. But in a country already rattled by a collapsed health system, cholera epidemic and now sordid conditions in congested camps, experts say they are worried about the impact. Adding to the concerns are conditions under which the pregnancies are occurring: insecurity and rapes in the camps despite increased U.N. peacekeeper patrols, lack of education and medical services, and desperation among girls, some as young as 13.

“There is a lot of transactional sex going on as a coping mechanism for young girls to survive poverty, to address some of their needs,’’ said Dr. Henia Dakkak of the United Nations Population Fund, which found that pregnancy in Haiti’s camps after the quake were three times higher than in urban areas. “It’s a concern for all of us.’’

And that includes the camp residents, too.

“A lot of parents have just given up,’’ said Rose Mona St. Fleur, 33, a camp resident and head of a women’s group.

St. Fleur said her camp near the international airport doesn’t have a problem with rape but it has seen an “explosion’’ in teenage pregnancy.

“After the quake, you see all of the young girls, living by themselves in their own tents, and finding pleasure in the company of young men,’’ she said. “The parents can no longer control them or say anything. As soon as you see a young lady living by herself under a tent, it’s only a matter of time before she ends up with an unplanned pregnancy.’’

On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch will release a 78-page report detailing the vulnerability of girls and women in camps. Interviews showed how gaps in access to available healthcare services are failing to prevent maternal and infant deaths, and how young girls and women are giving birth on mud floors, in alleys and without medical help. The organization is calling on the Haitian government and the international community to do more to protect women and girls.

“Despite gains made due to free healthcare services, the government and international donors have not addressed critical gaps in access to health services or addressed conditions that may give rise to maternal and infant deaths,” said Kenneth Roth, the organization’s executive director.

On the lawn of the prime minister’s quake-ravaged office building, new mother Christa Oviles recalls how she gave birth on the muddy floor after two days of labor.

With no doctor or a nurse available in the camp, she relied on friends who willed her to push. She finally delivered Alexandro on Aug. 15. But when she couldn’t deliver the after birth, she was rushed to a hospital across town. These days, the baby spends most of his time inside, Oviles says, his body constantly attacked by mosquitoes.

In the tent, Oviles small bed is in one corner and a charcoal stove a few feet away. Her only other possessions — clothes — are wrapped in sheets against the sides.

“This is no place for a baby,’’ she said.


(Alertnet) - By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA - Haitian President Michel Martelly's struggle to build consensus among lawmakers has created a political deadlock that threatens already slow reconstruction efforts in the earthquake-shattered country.

A former pop star with no previous political experience, Martelly was elected in March on promises to turn Haiti around after decades of poverty, corruption and dictatorship.

But more than three months after taking office, Martelly still has not been able to form a government to begin the task of addressing the needs of 635,000 people who are still homeless after the quake and hundreds of thousands more who are desperate for jobs.

His failure to win parliamentary approval of two candidates for prime minister reflects what many analysts see as a growing paralysis in Haitian politics with Inite, the party of former president Rene Preval, dominating both houses of parliament.

"President Martelly does not have a force in parliament, he doesn't have strength there,” said Bernice Robertson, senior Haiti analyst at International Crisis Group told AlertNet by phone from Port-au-Prince.

“Not much can be done without a new government,” she added. "The outgoing government remains in place but does not have the authority to make new decisions, implement new policy or present a budget, which needs to be presented and approved before the fiscal year ends in October.”

Although it was always going to be an uphill battle to wield over a polarized parliament made up of numerous factions --long a feature of Haitian politics – the charismatic Martelly has not shown enough leadership, analysts say.

“Parliament has never been an effective body in Haiti, there’s a lot of nepotism there,” said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Washington-based think tank, the Inter-American Dialogue.

“But the president has much more capacity than he is showing at the moment. We’re not getting much leadership from him. The blame has mostly to be pinned on him," Hakim told AlertNet by phone.


While political infighting continues, the Caribbean nation is ill-prepared to cope with the annual hurricane season that stretches until November and a cholera epidemic that has killed around 6,000 people since it broke out last October.

Major decisions about how to rebuild Haiti have also been put on hold until a new government can be sworn in.

Hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors remain in makeshift tent cities scattered across the capital Port-au-Prince amid uncleared rubble that could fill 8,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to U.N. estimates.

“There is still a need for a government policy and a global strategy on how to close camps and resettle people. A large number of people want to leave the camps but don't have the means to do so,” Roberston said.

The Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (IHRC), which has been overseeing the rebuilding effort, has approved many projects but it has been criticised for having completed too few.

The commission’s mandate runs out in October, but whether it will be extended remains up in the air.

"President Martelly proposed on the 22nd of July to extend the IHRC for another year. But there is no new government to draft that decision into a bill and submit it to parliament for approval,” Robertson said.


Without a new government, analysts say, it is difficult for Martelly to deliver on his campaign promises that along with speeding up post-earthquake rebuilding, include providing free primary education, building new homes and developing Haiti’s languishing agriculture sector.

It means Haitians, many of whom voted for Martelly on the hope of bringing change, have yet to see tangible improvements to their lives.

“There is a general sense of frustration left by decades of delays in improvement in the lives of Haitians, the slow pace of the reconstruction process many hoped would change that and now the inability of political leaders five months after the elections to put in place a government to speed up the rebuilding of the country,” said Roberston.

“That frustration can be manipulated by any side of the political realm as has happened in the past,” she added.

But whether such frustration will prompt Haitians to take to the streets in protest as they have done in the past, is not clear, analysts say.

“It’s hard to measure, but I don’t think we’re there yet,” said Hakim, who added that the international community needs to put more pressure on the Haitian government to move forward reconstruction efforts.

It is clear, though, that among local community and business leaders, patience is running out.

In an open letter published in the local press, Haiti LIBRE, in July, the Association of Haitian Industries (ADIH), vented its disappointment over the slow pace of recovery and the absence of a new government, which they say is causing ‘confusion,’ and could lead to instability.

“We therefore urge the president of the republic, members of parliament and all relevant sectors, to make every effort to reach an agreement to provide the country with a government in the shortest time, and avoid the nation of sliding back into instability,” the business leaders wrote.

They also raised concerns about the increasing problem of smuggling along the border with the Dominican Republic, delays in custom clearance at Haiti’s port and rising crime in the capital.

“Some industrial companies can barely function,” the letter said.


A large chunk of donor aid to Haiti is channelled directly through international aid and donor agencies and the myriad of foreign non-governmental organisations working in the Caribbean island.

Of the $2.43 billion committed or disbursed in humanitarian funding, just one percent ($25 million), has gone directly into the hands of the Haitian government, according to the United Nations.

While the Haitian authorities have little stake and control over donor aid, moving towards a full recovery phase remains remote, according to a June report by the U.N.’s Office for the Special Envoy to Haiti.

“With over 99 percent of relief funding circumventing Haitian public institutions, the already challenging task of moving from relief to recovery — which requires government leadership, above all — becomes almost impossible,” the report states.

Analysts argue that while a new government has yet to be sworn in, rethinking the way donor aid to Haiti is disbursed remains just another issue waiting to be resolved in the pipeline.


(Haiti Libre) -

The striking employees of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH) demonstrated yesterday in the capital, following a persistent rumor on the closing of General Hospital, the largest hospital in the country, for a period of two years. A decision that would have been taken at the level of the Ministry of Public Health...

The protesters paralyzed traffic by lying on the road; at the level of the Ministry of Health on Rue Saint Honore to protest against this possibility.

The Director General of the HUEH, Dr. Alix Lassègue has not been able to clarify this rumor. "I can neither confirm nor deny this information... So I can not provide any details for now..."

We learned that in a letter dated August 29, 2011, Dr. Gabriel Thimoté Director General of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), with the approval of the Minister of Health Alex Larsen; that Marlène Thompson, Administrator of the hospital was transferred to the position of technical Advisor to the Directorate of Training and Development in Health Sciences (DFPSS). Unless this is a coincidence, this measure seems to have been taken to appease the strikers who have been claiming for the last two months the revocation of the Administrator of the HUEH...

For its part, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy (FMP) has expressed in a note Monday, its concerns about this strike and the dysfunction of the HUEH, which according to this note "greatly affects the practical training of students from the Faculty of Medicine and of the National School of Nursing of Port-au-Prince."


(Haiti Libre) -

Monday morning, protesters blocked Rte. National # 1 at the town of l'Estère and at the neighboring community, Pont-sondé. The people protested against the severe rationing of electricity in l'Estère; demanding a better distribution of the electricity.

Exchanges of gunfire occurred between demonstrators and the police force when they intervened to try to restore order. During this confrontation one person was killed and another injured according to witnesses. This was unconfirmed by official sources.

Furious protesters, having accused the police officers of shooting into the crowd; invading and looting the police station, causing the police officers and the detainees at the police station to flee.

In Port-au-Prince, Frantz Lerebours, spokesman for the National Police indicated that armed individuals were among the demonstrators, but that the situation had returned to normal after the intervention of the National Police and agents of the Departmental Unit for the Maintenance of Order (UDMO) .

Alexis Fortunat, the Mayor of the city, feared further violence since the claims of citizens are still not satisfied.


(Haiti Libre) -

Following a request made by the local authorities of Anse-Rouge, the Minustah, as part of its support to Haitian institutions, has completed the reconstruction of the Town Hall, rehabilitation of the Peace Court and the concreting of three kilometres of road.

These 3 Quick Impact Projects (QIP), funded by Minustah and executed by the NGO Action Agro-Allemande [2,340,934 gourds (± USD$58,500) for the town hall, 997,225 gourds (± 25,000 dollars) for the Peace Court, and 3,997,200 gourds (± $100,000) for the road].

For a long time, installed in a space with cracked walls, the town hall of Anse-Rouge is now in a new building with an area of ​​150 square meters that houses, besides the mayor's office and those of his two deputies, a secretariat and conference room, and rooms for the administrator and city engineer. Two bathrooms complete this installation. "Before, we could not work without worry, because the building threatened to collapse at any moment," recalls lrick Petit-Frère, the Director General of the Town Hall.

At the Peace Court, the rain a few scares. "It was only necessary for a a few rain drops to paralyze the functioning of the Tribunal, whose sheet metal roof was damaged for a long time," said Judge Starniel Régis. The roof was changed, and a custody room and WC were built. The courtroom was enlarged and each of the two judges now has their own office.

As for the segment of road from Anse-Rouge in the Department of the Northwest, it is no longer a "headache for drivers," says Brunel Métayer, the Mayor of the town. He explained that "during the rainy season, vehicles could remain mired in mud over a week due to bad road conditions."

For its part, the Government Commissioner at the Court of First Instance of Gonaives Mésac Philogène, has called for the proper management of these infrastructures, particularly that of the Peace Court.

"This new City Hall and the Peace Court will contribute to the improvement of working conditions for the municipal council and judges and will also facilitate public access to public services", said Ms. Nharebat Nancaia Intchasso, Regional Chief of Minustah for the department of Artibonite.


(Haiti Libre) -

In a statement, Commissioner Frantz Lerebours, spokesman of the National Police explained that the main reason that prevents the effective application of the law, is ...... impunity for a number of citizens. He says that it is necessary to put an end to the stories of friendship, in front of which, all the principles fall and that the law is enforced uniformly throughout the society.

"...Security is transversal and requires a synergistic response [...] for example, if you take a set of disposals to maintain order, you see that those who need, who complained of problems [...] are coming to ask you a particular "arrangement" for them in the provisions that you have taken. That is the problem.

It is by making special arrangements, that a series of general problems can not have a solution. Once you make special arrangements and the law works like this [for years] things will slip from your hands. That said, it is necessary that we stop with these stories, that in front of the "friendships", all the principles fall.

I think that this is one of the basic things to get out of the current situation. We describe the society that we want and how we want to do it. Then we need to establish the standards with no special "arrangement."

Monday, August 29, 2011

photos - usns comfort - part 25

It was an easy pace day of getting the clinics running. Lots of people were taking time to take pictures as well.
There were several small generators going at the same time to operate equipment in the consultation tents. Amos is helping this soldier fixing one generator.
It was sort of funny seeing so much UN and Haitian police security at the sight. No problems happened. The people of Cite Soleil just want medical care not trouble.
Later in the afternoon all the consultation tables were kept busy.
This doctor from Operation Hope complemented the translating sklls of guys. Some were then given the opportunity to translate onboard the comfort ship. It was a good experience for them.

photos - usns comfort - part 26

Herole was translating for this doctor. He was one of the guys given the opportunity of translating aboard the ship.

Amos and Solyvien enjoyed watching everything going on.
This is Amos and Vanessa's daughter. She came down to help out too.
Military personnel maintained the various waiting areas.

photos - usns comfort - part 27

We got a thumbs up for taking a picture of these new UN friends. On the right are the 2 soldiers from Nigeria and on the left soldiers from Bangladesh. They had an enjoyable day. They didn't have to do much. Just hang around.
The military thinks of everything. They even had portable toilets set up at the clinic.
The afternoon moved at a quicker pace and new patients were not allowed into the clinic site from 3:00pm on.
Patients were given armbands to identify them.
These are 3 cute tents. They would make a great home for a family in a refuge camp!

photos - usns comfort - part 28

Some of the generators were used to support the dental equipment.
This is a sea-side view of those sitting in the waiting area.
These Haitian policemen made sure that there was no budding in line!
I went around and gave everyone a Canadian flag! ....just kidding... one of the personnel on the Comfort is Canadian and gave everyone in the waiting area a flag.
This lady had 2 in her braided hair.

photos - usns comfort - part 29

Starting first thing in the morning the situation at Terminal Varreux was a lot busier! Here are some of the NYPD blue!
They were discussing crowd control strategy
This group of volunteers was eager to provide a helping hand.
This is the sight of a large crowd hoping to see a doctor. There must have been 1,000 people waiting in line before the opening of the clinit site at 8:00am.
This elderly lady was positioned at the front of the starting gates!

photos - usns comfort - part 30

This elderly lady was the first to be let inside.
It looks like security reinforcements were sent in to keep an eye on the crowd.
People were patient and cooperative. I felt sorry for them standing in the hot sun.
Vanessa and a couple of the miitary guys were organizing translators in their places. So many people wanted to help that they had to be turned away.
Alot of mothers were there with their young children.


(CNN) - By Kathleen Toner

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Five years ago, Patrice Millet learned he was in the advanced stages of a rare bone cancer. A stem cell transplant was his only hope for survival.

The businessman from Haiti underwent the procedure in the United States. After nine months of treatment and recovery, his cancer was in remission. Millet returned home in May 2007 determined to start living the life he'd always wanted: helping children from Haiti's poorest slums have a brighter future.

"Every day you see so many kids in need -- so many bad stories, tragic stories," said Millet, 49. "All my life, I wanted to do something good for my country, for the kids. (So) I said, 'This is the time. I have nothing to lose.' "

That summer, Millet sold his construction supply business and started a program called FONDAPS, which stands for Foundation Notre-Dame du Perpétuel Secours (Foundation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help). The program uses soccer to help children stay out of trouble and learn valuable life skills. Millet calls it "education by sport."

"I want the kids to be very good citizens," he said. "In soccer ... you need to give, you need to receive, you need team spirit, discipline, sportsmanship. ... It's not all about soccer, it's about life."

Millet started by focusing his efforts on children from Solino, one of Port-au-Prince's most dangerous slums. But going into the neighborhood to recruit young participants was risky.

"My wife didn't want me to go. She said gangs (would) kill me." But Millet was undeterred.

"I said, 'I'd rather die doing something good than die in bed.' "

While Millet was first greeted with suspicion, he was eventually accepted by the locals and children flocked to join his program. Today, hundreds of children have benefited from FONDAPS.

Soccer programs for children are rare in Haiti, and players generally must pay to participate. In Millet's program, the equipment, uniforms, shoes and training are all free for participants. He also pays the transportation and entry fees for players to compete in soccer tournaments.

"When you live in the ghetto, you don't see the world outside," he said. "I try to bring hope for them, ... to show them that (their) life is not only the reality."

Before the earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Millet's program had expanded to three neighborhoods and involved more than 600 children, including more than 150 girls. But the quake devastated Solino and halted FONDAPS' momentum. One of the children in the program died and many lost friends and family members.

"When the earthquake came ... it became harder for the kids," Millet said. "Now, most of them live in tents. ... They have to fight for everything."

Two of the three fields where Millet had held soccer practice became large tent cities. His remaining field is located on the outskirts of Port au Prince -- too far for many of his former players to walk. But about 200 boys still make the journey. Millet believes that the difficult times have only increased the need for his work.

"In Port-au-Prince right now, there is almost no soccer field," he said. "It's very important for a kid to play. ... I try to give them joy, give them their childhood."

The children, ages 9-17, practice five days a week. And Millet often arranges games on Sundays.

"When they win, they are happy and they know that it's because they worked hard for it. ... That is the message I want to tell them," said Millet. "Sometimes you win, sometime you lose. ... But this is the way you win in life."

Since many of "his kids," as he calls them, lack father figures, Millet also acts as a role model and mentor. After practice, he and the other coaches regularly talk with the boys about what's going on in their lives. Millet constantly stresses the importance of education to them, and at times dips into his own pocket to pay their school fees.

"They don't have to steal ... or (join a) gang. They know that they can do something. They know they can believe in themselves," said Millet.

While FONDAPS is basically a one-man operation run on a shoestring budget, Millet is always looking for other ways to help his players. Usually once a week, participants receive packets of pasta, rice and beans to bring home to their families. He is also working on getting a bus to transport children to practice, and he hopes to one day establish his own school with athletic fields and programs in music and art.

Despite the challenges to keep his program going, Millet is not lacking in motivation.

"To see the joy in the face of a kid ... and you know what he's living (through) ... that makes me happy," he said. "It's so wonderful to see the progress they make in soccer, in their own life, in everything."

For Jeff Fouvant, Millet's program has been a lifeline. The 11-year-old lost his father in the earthquake and is living in a tent with 10 family members. Fouvant's entire family depends on the food he receives from FONDAPS, and Millet also pays for his school fees.

"Mr. Patrice ... he helped us a lot," said Fouvant. "He is a hero."

In 2009, Millet's cancer returned, but he's treating it with medication. He recently spent several weeks in the U.S. undergoing radiation treatment, but he insists that he's feeling good. Though cancer is a reality that Millet can't escape, he said he's happier now than he was before his diagnosis. And he's determined to do as much as he can with whatever time he has left.

"I realized how important life is, every moment," he said. "I am not ready to die yet. I have many, many things to do."

Want to get involved? Check out the FONDAPS website at and see how to help.


(Irish Independent) -

The issue of diabetes in Haiti -- where one is 16 suffers from the illness -- has a unique set of problems

If Jean Bernadette (56) hadn't discovered she was diabetic, she would probably be dead by now. In Haiti, where the health focus remains fixated on infectious diseases like HIV, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like diabetes are often detected late, when patients need extensive and expensive hospital care.

Yet, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes rank first and fourth in Haiti respectively, while HIV-AIDS now sits well below them in 10th position.

Jean Bernadette got diabetes 15 years ago. However, like many Haitians, she hasn't had access to the right medication or treatment.

Pointing to a gap in her right foot she tells me: "Six months ago I had to go to hospital to have a surgeon cut it off."

A study released by the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince in 2009 shows that more than 50pc of patients in the capital have diabetic foot, with ulcers and infections in the feet standing out as the major source of death in these patients.

According to 2006 figures supplied by the Haitian Foundation for Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases (FHADIMAC), a private organisation affiliated to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), one in every 16 Haitians is diabetic.

To add to the problem, FHADIMAC's Vice-President Dr Philippe Larco explains, "the concept of a chronic disease is not understood in Haiti.

"People think that it is supernatural, some kind of witchcraft, and there is nothing you can do against it. This is a big challenge for our healthcare teams in terms of the compliance of the patient with the treatment."

In addition to such challenges lie a lack of proper funding, data collection, surveillance, available medication and treatment.

These vital pieces in the Haitian health puzzle are all scarce commodities for diabetics, as the country's health development continues to be tied almost exclusively to more visible and campaign-ready infectious diseases like HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.

Dr Larco explains that the "cost of medication is too high and patients simply cannot afford it".

"With more than 60pc of the population living on less than €1.50 a day, it is very difficult for a family to buy insulin on a regular basis and many of them let a parent die because the economic burden is too great."

Both of Jean Bernadette's parents were diabetics and died from cardiovascular-related complications. Her father developed chronic kidney disease and her mother died from a heart attack that she believes stemmed from years of high blood pressure.

She shows me a diabetic glucose monitor that FHADIMAC gave her last year when they began screening for diabetic patients in the post-earthquake camps.

Unfortunately she doesn't have any test strips to use with the monitor. "I can't check my sugars without strips but I can't afford them either," she explains.

Vicious circle

Dr Larco says that a vicious circle exists where the international community doesn't fund these silent, invisible diseases and thus "NCDs don't end up on the list of priorities for the Haitian Ministry of Health which in turn blocks funding activities related to NCDs," he says.

According to the charity UNAIDS, in 2010 up to $145m (€100m) was used to target HIV prevention, medication and management in Haiti.

As for diabetes, less than $15m (€10.5m) was used. The country has one of the lowest expenditure rates on diabetes in the Americas with only $48 spent per person.

Ironically, the earthquake at the start of last year did spark some positive change for diabetics in Haiti, with more funding becoming available for the cause.

In April this year, FHADIMAC began work on a two-year project in conjunction with the World Diabetes Foundation to open up 12 new diabetic clinics. Mobile clinics will also be set up for patients in remote rural areas. They will all carry out basic glucose testing along with eye and feet exams.

Following the earthquake, international organisations such as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have had a strong presence in the country. Dr Andre Munger, the medical chief at one of MSF's trauma hospitals in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, says they "are now starting to take action because of the health catastrophe posed by non-communicable diseases like diabetes".

Later this year, MSF aim to carry out a new survey on the number of people suffering from diabetic and cardiovascular complications in Haiti. "Without proper data and statistics we'll never be able to address these issues properly," Dr Munger explains.

In order to bring this work on to the international stage and begin to tap into possible new sources of funding, FHADIMAC will present its plan at a UN summit in New York in September.

For many diabetics and other NCD patients like Jean Bernadette, such efforts could be the difference between life and death.


(Boston Globe) - By Neena Satija

Nursing teachers from Haiti study US methods at Regis

Germaine Pierre Laine now knows that when a patient is barrel-chested, that might indicate a lung disease. She has learned how to percuss a patient’s back and abdomen, using short, sharp blows and listening to the sound they produce to test for illnesses.

But one of the most powerful lessons the 41-year-old Haitian nurse has learned during a six-week course at Regis College is much simpler: that a nurse can sit on a hospital bed with a patient.

In Haiti, most nurses consider this practice inappropriate, she said. But after seeing nurses sit on patients’ beds here, Laine has decided she will try it when she returns to the National School of Nursing in Cap-Haïtien next month.

“You’re bringing barriers down between you and the patient,’’ she explained in Creole.

Laine is one of 12 nursing teachers from Haiti spending part of the summer at Regis for a crash course in American nursing, gaining expertise they will then pass on to a new generation of nurses back home.

Nurses and administrators from Regis College and Boston-based Partners in Health, which are collaborating on the training project, conceived it years ago. But the program gained urgency after an earthquake last year destroyed the national nursing school in Port-au-Prince, killing nearly 100 students and faculty.

With help from international donors, the school - which continues to operate in tents on piles of rubble - will be rebuilt. Training new nurses will be more difficult.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti had too few nurses and nursing teachers. Mirmonde Amazan, a pediatric nurse and instructor at the National School of Nursing in Les Cayes, on the southwestern tip of Haiti, divides her time between a teaching schedule and a clinical supervision schedule. That means she often has to leave students at the hospital on their own while she teaches a class.

The Regis program aims to change that. The course the nurses are taking this summer, in combination with online and other classes they will have once they return to Haiti, will allow them to earn master’s degrees from the University of Haiti and become nurse practitioners.

Such a level of education for nurses is “unheard of in Haiti,’’ said Regis president Toni Hays, who cofounded the program when she was dean of the school’s nursing program in 2007. Most nurses in Haiti today cannot earn degrees through a university, so nursing instructors are not as respected as other faculty, she said. “But this is the beginning of a movement.’’

Two summers from now, once the 12 women have earned their degrees, they will return to Regis to teach the next cohort of students.

“I’ve learned so many things,’’ the 43-year-old Amazan said in French. “How hospitals work. How training works. How supervision works.’’ The level of supervision that nursing students have in the United States has convinced her that she must spend more time with students in a clinical setting, she said.

The nurses stay in dormitories on the fourth floor of College Hall, the main building on the school’s Weston campus. On a sunny Thursday afternoon, the television was on in the dormitory lounge, but nobody was watching. Instead, Amazan and two other women sat with their heads bent over notebooks as they worked on an assignment.

Later that day, everyone filed into nearby Domitilla Hall for their health assessment lab. There, assistant professor of nursing Kellie LaPierre showed them how to give patients a physical exam.

“Inspection. Auscultation. Palpation. Percussion,’’ they recited after her, adding Creole inflections, as they examined each other’s abdominal regions.

Doctors are usually the ones to give such exams in Haiti, but in many places, the only medical professionals around are nurses - and the exams are often the only tools available in a country where hospitals often run short of the most basic medical supplies, such as gauze or intravenous fluids.

“They don’t have an X-ray. They don’t have an MRI,’’ said Kellie LaPierre, an assistant professor of nursing at Regis. But if nurses can do a thorough physical exam, “they can diagnose problems like TB. Like pneumonia… . It’s teaching them how to think.’’

As LaPierre instructed the students, Thamy Crevecoeur, a nurse at Boston Medical Center whose father was a physician in Haiti for years, stood beside her and translated into Creole.

In a state with strong ties to Haiti - Massachusetts has the third-highest population of Haitians in this country, and hundreds of medical staff and volunteers from here participated in relief efforts after the earthquake - the Regis program has had no lack of volunteers.

Once Amazan returns to Haiti, she said, she will be able to motivate aspiring nurses in a way she previously could not.

“It’s very difficult to ask somebody to work when there’s nothing to work with,’’ she said. But with what she and her colleagues have learned, they can go home and begin to rebuild.



PORT-AU-PRINCE — The head of the Haiti's anti-kidnapping unit says an American has been kidnapped from his home in the capital.

Francois Dossous says the U.S. citizen was seized by men posing as employees of a package delivery service. The victim was identified as Frank Jean-Baptiste. He is married to the director of a prestigious private school for the children of diplomats and wealthy Haitians. Dossous said Monday that authorities are working to secure the man's release. Police and U.N. peacekeepers have increased checkpoints throughout Port-au-Prince in recent days.

The U.S. Embassy has warned Americans working in Haiti to remain alert and has provided tips on what to do if kidnapped.


(Haiti Libre) -

Union members of the nursing staff and of the union of health workers of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH), on strike since July 6, 2011, held on Friday a day of reflection with the perspective of the resumption of activities in the institution.

Rose Bernard Belot of the Union of Nurses [of support] and Félix Lévy Milot, of the Union of Health Workers, argue that the strikers remain firmly attached to their claims, among other things : the dismissal of Dr. Alix Lassegue, Executive Director of HUEH and of Marlene Thompson, the Administrator of the hospital.

For his part Dr. Alix Lassègue states that "the strike only concerns the support staff," adding that the caregivers are not on strike as it is suggested.

According to Lévy Milot Félix, the current situation not only disrupts the functioning of the hospital but also penalizes the students from the Faculty of Medicine [residents and interns] who study at this hospital. He also denounced a plan of the health authorities aiming to close and demolish the HUEH in order to rebuild it.

Dr. Alex Larsen, Minister of Health, confirmed that it was true that a project to demolish the HUEH was under consideration. This project proposes two options that are being analyzed: either the complete demolition and reconstruction of a new modern hospital, over a period of two years, which would require a contingency plan for patients, or the gradual reconstruction of HUEH which would require 5-6 years of work.

The reconstruction of HUEH, a project of more than 50 million U.S. dollars, is supported by the United States for $25 million, France $25 million and the Government of Haiti for a contribution of just over 3 million dollars.

Regarding the request of the unions to dismiss members of the Directorate or of the Board, of the HUEH, the Minister is clear, saying there was no question of doing that because the small staff requests it.

The unionist Lévy Milot Félix warns the Head of Government that "the interns, residents, and the small staff will demonstrate against you, Mr. President, if you close the hospital as the adepts of the neoliberal plan around you want it to..."


(Haiti Libre) -

The Government of Haiti estimates that at least 60% of products used in the school canteen programs and of food assistance are now available locally and can be purchased directly from producers in Haiti. This is the information that AGROPRESSE obtained from the responsibles of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Rural Development (MARNDR).

According the responsibles of the MARNDR, a set of efforts has been initiated through the unit for the facilitation of purchases of local products (UFAPL) in order to make better use of local products and to stimulate at the same time domestic production. To achieve this goal, says MARNDR, it is imperative to ensure not only the availability and the regularity of the offer of local products but also to guarantee a quality standard for products purchased under this program.

In Haiti, several chambers of agriculture; those of Saint Raphael, of Limonade and of La Victoire, were able to sign contracts with the World Food Program (WFP) and the French Cooperation to provide food that will be used largely in the National Program of School Canteens (PNCS). Purchases mainly concern rice and maize totaling hundreds of tons of these foodstuffs.

The responsibles of MARNDR informed that recently some control analysis performed on a sample taken by WFP in a laboratory of Dakota (United States), revealed an abnormally high amount of certain microorganisms.

The proof was established that the grains themselves were not contaminated. MARNDR technicians conducted an evaluation of the technical conditions under which the processing of products is done to make the necessary improvements.

After analysis, they found that the problems reside in the condition of processing structures; specifically the mills, and the non-standard conditions of hygiene related to the processing environment.

To solve these problems and establish a basic system of quality control, the Ministry and its partners have agreed on a plan of action including among others the following points :

Achievement of a diagnostic in the network of suppliers

Achievement of training sessions on hygiene management, and good practices in a food processing plant

Training on the most common microorganisms and who are at risk of contamination

Training on inventory management and the traceability system for products

Punctual monitoring of the implementation of training

Conception of sampling plans - election of laboratories of control and analysis (national and international)

Evaluation of testing protocols during inter-laboratory tests

According to the leaders, these actions on quality control, constitute one of the aspects among the many concerns of the Ministry of Agriculture for which measures will be implemented. For example, the success of the program of local products purchased will require the supervision of producers and the organization of the distribution of the products in question.


(Haiti Libre) -

The Regional Office of the Justice Section of the UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (Minustah) has launched since the beginning of the month the active phase of the project "Strengthening of the operational capabilities of the rule of law institutions in the South department" in partnership with the Court of First Instance of the Les Cayes and the NGO CARITAS. This project aims to provide public institutions the necessary materials and equipment for the proper functioning of their services.

"This is to build the capacity of the courts and Civil-State offices of the South Department and to improve the conditions of detention in the civil prison in Les Cayes. We initiated this Quick Impact Project (QIP) with our partners" explained Mr. Jean-Louis Marcello, of the Regional Office of the Justice Section of Minustah in Les Cayes; who stated that the dean of the Court of First Instance of Les Cayes, Mr. Pierre E. Vaval, helped to identify the needs; while CARITAS is responsible for managing the funds provided by Minustah, which amounts to 2,462,000 gourds (± U.S. $ 61,000).

The Prison Civil of Les Cayes was selected to receive the first batch of materials; 200 mattresses and 400 plates put at the disposition of the inmates; as well as office equipment for the Registry, which had been burned during the escape attempt in January 2010.

The remainder of the material, is primarily intended for the Civil-State offices and to some courts all considered to be a priority. "It is composed of metal filing cabinets for storage, desks and office chairs for the authorities, chairs for visitors, benches for the courtrooms and registers of Civil status" added Mr. Marcello.

Each of the 15 courts concerned by the project: The Court of Appeals of Les Cayes, the Court of First Instance of Les Cayes, the prosecution of Les Cayes, the Court of First Instance of Coteaux and the Peace courts of: Camp-Perrin, Maniche, Coteaux, Tiburon, Damassin, Port-à-Piment, Rendel, Chardonnières, la Cahouane, Ile à Vache and Chantal will receive kits containing two metal filing cabinets, desk and desk chair, 10 chairs for visitors and benches.

The 10 selected Civil-State of: Les Cayes, Camp-Perrin, Torbeck, Coteaux, Aquin, Cavaillon, Tiburon, Rendel, Port-à-Piment, Chardonnières will each receive kits containing two metal filing cabinets, desks, and office chair, chairs for 10 guests, and 48 registers of Civil status.

The Bar of the Order of Lawyers of the Coteaux also received a desk, chairs and metal filing cabinets.

To date, over 50% of the material was delivered and this will continue until October 2011.

Sunday, August 28, 2011



(Tree Hugger) - By Lester Brown

The thin layer of topsoil that covers much of the earth's land surface is the foundation of civilization. As long as soil erosion on cropland does not exceed new soil formation, all is well. But once it does, it leads to falling soil fertility and eventually to land abandonment. As countries lose their topsoil through overgrazing, overplowing, or deforestation, they eventually lose the capacity to feed themselves. Among those facing this problem are Lesotho, Haiti, Mongolia, and North Korea.

Lesotho, one of Africa's smallest countries with only 2 million people, is paying a heavy price for its soil losses. A U.N. team visiting in 2002 found that crop production there "is declining and could cease altogether over large tracts of country if steps are not taken to reverse soil erosion, degradation, and the decline in soil fertility." During the last 10 years, Lesotho's grain harvest dropped by half as its soil fertility fell. Its collapsing agriculture has left the country heavily dependent on food imports.

In the western hemisphere, Haiti was largely self-sufficient in grain 40 years ago. Since then, its population has doubled and it has lost nearly all its forests and much of its topsoil, forcing it to import over half of its grain. Lesotho and Haiti are both dependent on U.N. World Food Programme lifelines.

A similar situation exists in Mongolia, where over the last 20 years nearly three fourths of the wheatland has been abandoned and wheat yields have started to fall, shrinking the harvest by four fifths. Mongolia now imports nearly 70 percent of its wheat.

North Korea, largely deforested and suffering from flood-induced soil erosion and land degradation, has watched its yearly grain harvest fall from a peak of more than 5 million tons during the 1980s to scarcely 3.5 million tons during the first decade of this century.

Soil erosion is taking a human toll. Whether the degraded land is in Haiti, Lesotho, Mongolia, North Korea, or any of the many other countries losing their soil, the health of the people cannot be separated from the health of the land itself.

More data from World on the Edge by Lester R. Brown is available at .