Thursday, March 31, 2011

VIDEO - ELECTION - RESULT DELAY

This is a video of all the many UN, OEA, foreign government, journalists while they wait for the Voting Tabulation Center to finish their examine of all the voting minutes. March 31st has arrived and there is an additional wait until April 4th now required. To see their professional response (look for Michel Martelly with a false black mustache) follow the link to:

www.godtube.com/watch?v=FBB10JNU

ARTICLE - NEW TECHNIQUE - CHOLERA CONTROL

NEW UF-CREATED TECHNIQUE MAY HELP QUELL CHOLERA OUTBREAK
(University of Florida) - By Claudia Adrien

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new technique honed by University of Florida scientists can track rapid molecular changes that occur in cholera strains during epidemics and researchers hope the genetic analysis will help stamp out such outbreaks.

The results of the UF study are published this month in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

“Cholera spreads quickly through contaminated food and water and can survive in the environment,” said Judy Johnson, one of the paper’s authors, a UF College of Medicine professor and member of the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “Tracking the spread in real-time, at a community level, is essential in helping identify sources of contamination so that they can be eliminated, stopping the spread of disease before it gets worse.”

In October, UF researchers went to Haiti during the cholera outbreak to collect stool samples from 19 patients suffering from severe diarrhea at St. Marc’s Hospital in the Léogâne region. People infected with the cholera bacterium, a waterborne organism that attacks the small intestine, often experience rapid dehydration that can lead to death if untreated.

The samples were examined at the Emerging Pathogens Institute, where researchers used a molecular typing, or fingerprinting, technique that follows rapidly changing areas of the cholera genome. Most molecular fingerprinting methods have difficulty detecting differences in the type of cholera bacterium found in the patient samples.

The researchers examined 187 bacterial colony selections and showed that even in individual patients, the DNA sequences were beginning to diversify. It’s a remarkable finding, they say, because although all the isolates can be traced back to a single cholera clone introduced into Haiti, the molecular signature is changing as the epidemic progresses.

Following strains with these unique signatures allows researchers to see, almost in real time, how the disease is spreading, whether through contamination of surface water, food or from human travel.

This molecular typing technique also is useful in demonstrating where strains persist in the environment. In countries such as Bangladesh and India, where cholera is endemic, strains of the bacteria with notably different genetic profiles typically exist only miles apart from each other, with multiple unique strains often found within a single infected person.

“Although there are changes happening in the Haitian strains, we have also confirmed that there’s little diversity in them,” said Afsar Ali, a faculty member in the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute and the College of Public Health and Health Professions, who was lead author of the paper. “This is significant because it means there was a single introduction of a cholera strain into the country.”

The UF researchers have drawn no conclusions that cholera came into Haiti through Nepali United Nations peacekeepers stationed in the country, as suggested in some media reports.

“It appears that the first several cases of cholera had resulted from people drinking contaminated river water, and water should be considered the major driver of the cholera epidemic in Haiti,” Ali said. “However, it’s yet to be validated that the introduction of the cholera germ in the water happened via human fecal excretion.”

More than 4,500 Haitians have died during the current cholera outbreak, the World Health Organization reported in late February. Many of the initial cases were clustered along a 20-mile stretch of the Artibonite River, though more have occurred in urban centers where the January 2010 earthquake damaged water sanitation systems. Health experts predict more than 750,000 Haitians will be infected with the disease by year’s end.

Emerging Pathogens Institute researchers developed mathematical models to help public health officials understand the spread and control of cholera, suggesting that human-to-human disease transmission is the primary reason cholera has infected many in Haiti.

Other UF efforts include College of Pharmacy faculty and students assembling thousands of packets of oral rehydration solution — a combination of sugar and salt that can treat cholera — sent to the country in October. Edsel Redden, a co-author on the paper and a PHHP faculty member, is overseeing construction of a UF research laboratory in Léogâne, which will help scientists analyze infectious bacteria, viruses and parasites in Haiti rather than shipping samples to the United States.

ARTICLE - ARTICLE - CTC IN JACMEL ON STRIKE

CHOLERA - EMPLOYEES OF THE CTC IN JACMEL ON STRIKE
(HaitiLibre)

The employees of the Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) at Hopital Saint Michel de Jacmel [the largest hospital in the department of the South-East] have been absent from work since Monday, March 28, 2011. The employees demand that the health authorities give them payment of their salary arrears. According to staff-strikers, from the departure date of February 2011, of the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) from the Hopital Saint Michel, none of the staff of the CTC has been paid so far and no explanation has been provided by health officials in this regard.

Questioning the consequences of this work stoppage, of the unique treatment center in Jacmel, which can accommodate people with cholera, employees say that they are aware of the impact that such a movement can have on people's health, but they explain that "We are obliged to observe the suspension of work in order to force the authorities to take us into consideration, because we have our families to feed."

Dr. Yves Gaston Délouche Junior, the Departmental Health Director of the Southeast, asks employees to be patient and that they will soon receive their salaries. The manager said that he has conducted an approach to UNICEF, one of the partners of his institution, seeking a favorable response to the financing of the CTC in order to break the deadlock. In fact, since the departure of MSF, the departmental health director has been looking for funds to ensure the payment of the CTC staff.

Moreover, the departmental Director of the Health of South-East has expressed his concern about a possible increase in cases of cholera in the region because of the rainy season which has just been announced. Dr. Délouche Junior asks people to be very vigilant and respect the principles of hygiene.

ARTICLE - UN - RULE OF LAW - REPORT

ENHANCING RULE OF LAW VITAL FOR PEACE AND SECURITY IN HAITI, UN REPORT SAYS
(UN)

Haitians must embrace the rule of law to advance peace and prosperity, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stresses in a new report, adding that the country and its new leadership will require sustained international support to achieve this goal amid a set of daunting challenges.

“I call on all international partners to work with the Government and the United Nations in a concerted and cohesive effort to strengthen the rule of law in Haiti,” Mr. Ban writes in his latest report on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

He notes that the past year has been “deeply challenging” for Haiti, which has faced the difficult task of rebuilding and coping with the aftermath of the 12 January 2010 earthquake in which 230,000 people died and countless more were injured; an outbreak of cholera that to date has killed at least 4,600 people and infected more than 240,000; a close brush with Hurricane Tomas; and political instability and deadlock, and related electoral violence.

In addition, the ongoing displacement and continued precarious living conditions of more than 800,000 Haitians are a daily reminder of the need to accelerate the pace of reconstruction efforts.

“The incoming Government of Haiti will inherit a set of daunting challenges, compounded by the onset of another hurricane season, a severe lack of public sector expertise and a growing disenchantment among the general population with the existing political leadership and class and the long-standing socio-economic order,” he states.

Preliminary results from the presidential run-off election held on 20 March between former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular musician Michel Martelly are expected to be announced today, while the final results will be announced on 16 April.

“The next President of Haiti may well face a protracted period of difficult cohabitation with a divided and potentially fractious Parliament,” says Mr. Ban. “The executive and legislative branches of Government will have to work together to meet the aspirations of the Haitian people and to deliver the reforms that they have been denied for far too long.”

He states that strengthening the rule of law will require a genuine commitment to creating an independent and effective judiciary, a Parliament that is accountable to the people and not driven by special interests, and a Government that is transparent, responsive to the needs of the country and truly representative of the Haitian people.

“Haiti will require the sustained support of the international community to bring about systemic rule-of-law reform,” the Secretary-General writes.

The return of former president Jean-Claude Duvalier has brought the country’s turbulent history of State-sponsored violence to the fore, he adds. “It is of vital importance that the Haitian authorities pursue all legal and judicial avenues in this matter. The prosecution of those responsible for crimes against their own people will deliver a clear message to the people of Haiti that there can be no impunity.”

The incoming administration should also build on the achievements of René Préval’s presidency, which put an end to State-sponsored political violence and allowed Haitians to enjoy freedom of association and expression, Mr. Ban says.

The overall security situation in Haiti remained generally calm but prone to localized violent episodes of unrest, according to the report. There has been an increase in gang activities in impoverished areas of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Haitian criminals are active in the region’s guns-for-drugs trade, which has been boosted by the presence of escaped prisoners seeking weapons.

A considerable proportion of the cocaine originating in South America and delivered to the United States and Europe passes relatively freely through Haiti, where drug traffickers are able to exploit the porous border and use illegal airstrips, boats and private submarines off the coast of the island.

The communities most at risk from insecurity remain those within the densely populated areas in the West Department, including the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs). “Several of the camps are used as bases by escaped prisoners and gangs. Consequently, crime, including sexual and gender-based violence, appears to have increased in the camps,” says the Secretary-General.

“Haiti has the chance to make a fresh start under a new administration,” he states. “A new leadership must try to heal the wounds of a deeply polarized society and provide jobs, education and services to a population that is economically impoverished.

“The United Nations will work with the new Government and all sections of Haitian society to enhance the rule of law in Haiti, and to ensure that the population can fully enjoy its fundamental economic, social, civil and political rights.”

For its part, UN peacekeeping mission continues its vital work in the country, including in delivering critical support for quake recovery efforts; assisting with reform of the national police force; protecting vulnerable groups, particularly those living in the camps; providing support to State institutions; and promoting human rights.

ARTICLE - SMS - POLLING STATION LOCATION

ACTIVEXPERTS AND VOTIDENT PROVIDED SMS SYSTEM FOR HAITIAN CITIZENS TO LOCATE THEIR ELECTIONS POLLING STATION
(PRLEAP.COM)-

Port-au-Prince — For the just completed Haitian Presidential Election, 1.3 million Haitian citizens, or 54% of the citizens who voted, utilized SMS to locate their voting centers successfully. This service was provided by Votident Elections Services utilizing ActiveXperts SMS Messaging Server. For product info, see: http://www.activexperts.com/mmserver

To use the system, citizens simply sent their identification number to the SMS short code ‘200’ and received information instructing them where to vote in response.

"The SMS system provided the single most effective tool in enabling citizens to participate in the electoral process", according to Philippe Augustin, Director of Informatics for the Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP). "In the hours following the Fall 2010 elections there were massive demonstrations on the streets of Port-au-Prince, because citizens were unable to locate their polling station. For this election, there were very few problems, because any citizen who desired to vote could easily find out where it was they were supposed to vote using the SMS system."

Augustin also pointed out that "In comparison to previous elections, there was a high level of voter participation. The SMS service was perhaps the single biggest reason this occurred."

Funded through a grant provided to the CEP by USAID, the SMS system was promoted through a national information campaign announced on billboards, SMS messages and radio & TV announcements.

To provide a rapid response, ActiveXperts’ support team worked closely with Votident to optimize server productivity. The SMS servers downloaded new messages from the Haitian phone companies every 10 seconds, resulting in a total average user response total time of 30 seconds. Three servers deployed the SMS system in order to provide load balancing and data redundancy to ensure consistency of response for the users.

About Votident Election Services
Votident, Inc., http://www.votident.com - provides election infrastructure support to governments around the world. Previous projects include providing support for the 2009 Haitian legislative elections, emergency SMS assistance for the 2010 Haitian earthquake, hardware support for the Dominican Republic presidential election and results reporting software for the El Salvador presidential election. Votident services include, Voter Registration Solutions, Handheld Biometric Identification Devices, Ballot Sheet OCR Processing and Quick-Count Results Reporting Systems. For more information, Contact David Wade, Votident CEO at dwade@votident.com, +1-202-460-5054. For Media Inquiries Contact Kristen Walton at kpwalton@votident.com

About ActiveXperts Software - http://www.activexperts.com
ActiveXperts Software B.V. - ActiveXperts - ActiveXperts is a leading provider of Windows networking and communication software. Founded in 2000, ActiveXperts support more than 10,000 customers worldwide. Its most widely known products are the ActiveXperts Network Monitor and ActiveXperts SMS Messaging Server. ActiveXperts sells its software products worldwide through a network of resellers and online through the internet and provides software development and consulting services to companies all over the world.

ARTICLE - ELECTIONS - 1,518 MINUTES EXCLUDED

ELECTIONS: 1,518 MINUTES EXCLUDED, CANDIDATES CONCERNED
(HaitiLibre.com)

Widmarck Matador, the Director of the Vote Tabulation Centre (CTV), declared yesterday at a press conference at the CTV, that all the minutes of presidential elections are already legally verified and that 82.36% of the tabulation has been completed.

Following the postponement of the date of publication for the preliminary results of the second round, Wildmack Matador explained that "Following the recommendations, we had an enhancement of the verification criteria that we have applied to the tabulation center.

Because of this enhancement we were obliged to send 15.200 minutes to the lawyers [Legal Control Unit], to verify their authenticity; to check that they do not have fraud. Our system has been heavily weighed down, and we must take the time to do this job. If we do not this ...., another Mission comes and that two months, three months after... we give the results of the 2nd round. What is most important for us is the integrity of the election, and the respect of the vote of the people. We are obliged to take our time to do an honest job, to be able to give reliable results, accurate results."

The Director of the CTV determined that 1,518 minutes concerning the presidential election were excluded, noting that this decision of the Legal Control Unit is administrative and not judicial. The candidates or their duly authorized representatives may challenge the shelving of PV within 72 hours after the publication of the preliminary results and thus begin the legal process of challenge.

These 1,518 minutes represent 14% of 11,090 minutes received for the presidential election. A number that is lower than the number used by the candidates' parties in their accusations and their war of reciprocal numbers... It is necessary to remember that in the first round of the presidential elections, about 3,000 minutes had been shelved; of which 1.045 were for the candidate Jude Célestin.

The two candidates Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly will be allocated in proportions unknown to this day, of these frauds and irregularities, because we must not be blind; the fraudster partisans of both parties did not change their nature between the two rounds of elections and none of the two candidate, can without lie, declare itself free from fraud.

To prove this it is sufficient to consult the audits of the Mission of the OAS whose criteria are the same as those used today, to see that Michel Martelly had 7.150 votes deleted and Mirlande Manigat 13.830 deleted for fraud or irregularities.

It is impossible to estimate without knowing the distribution of the minutes between the two candidates, the polling stations concerned and the result of contestations after the publication of the preliminary results of the the second round, the number of votes that will be subtracted from the vote and the influence this might have on results. It is reasonable to think that the increase of the voter turnout estimated by the CNO around 30% will compensate in quantity these votes. What will make the difference are the regions concerned by these minutes excluded combined with the voter turnout in these same regions.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

VIDEO - EVICTION FEARS IN REFUGE CAMPS

Democracy Now did a report on the problems of evictions of refugees living in the refuge camps. There is a lot of video showing life in Haiti and the conditions in Haiti. To watch this video follow the link to:


ARTICLE - KOREA - NEW INDUSTRIAL PARK

SOME 20,000 JOBS TO BE CREATED AT NEW INDUSTRIAL PARK IN HAITI
(Miami Herald) - Jacqueline Charles

U.S., Haiti team up with Korean garment firm to create 20,000 jobs and country’s first fabric mill.

CARACOL, Haiti -- Standing in the middle of the dirt-poor rural village on a cool afternoon, the neatly dressed Korean garment tycoon surveyed the rugged mountaintops and surrounding bean fields as he tried to envision the future a year from now.

But it wasn’t until Kim Woong Ki stared into the curious faces surrounding him that the chairman of Korea’s leading manufacturer and exporter of textiles and clothing, realized the real value of his $78 million business investment decision.

“I didn’t really set out to bring people hope,’’ Kim said, as he rode away from the village on Haiti’s northern coast halfway between the cities of Cap-Haitien and Ouanaminthe. “Coming here, seeing the site and walking among the people, I realized that what I’m going to do here in creating the factory and the jobs, is give people hope.’’

A major supplier to U.S. retailers Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and GAP, Sae-A is expanding its garment-making operations to Haiti as the anchor tenant in a new 617-acre industrial park being created in the country’s underdeveloped northern region. For the first time, Haiti’s 2 million-a-week T-shirt-stitching industry will also include the country’s only knit and dyeing mill with Sae-A pumping 6,000 tons of ground water a day for its export operations.

“For the first time ever, apparel sewn in Haiti will be using fabric made in Haiti,’’ said Kim, whose company already has operations in Guatemala and Nicaragua.

With the company gearing up to recruit Haitian managers as early as next month for a planned March 2012 opening, the deal is already having a multiplier effect. Local hotel and restaurant owners are optimistic, as are potential workers like 23-year-old Luckner Peter, about the possibility of 20,000 new jobs in the area. Luckner was among dozens of young men hired by the government at 50 cents a hole to help install a fence around the property.

“This is going to change our community,’’ said Louicot Alexandre, president of the chamber of commerce for Northeast Haiti, a region of about 300,000 residents. “This shows that Haiti is prepared to do business with the world, and it’s OK to do business with Haiti.’’

Valued at about $300 million, the job-creation package is one of Haiti’s biggest foreign investments. U.S. officials call it an “unprecedented collaboration’’ between the Haitian and U.S. governments, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

So much is at stake that some Haiti observers mused that it was perhaps one of the reasons for the United States’ heavy involvement in the Nov. 28 presidential election debacle. Twice before, Kim had tried to invest in Haiti. Each time, his decision was thwarted. There was political turmoil in 1994 after he signed a memorandum of understanding and then the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake shortly after another trip.

“We have in our business proposal a huge chapter called hurdles and obstacles,’’ said Lon Garwood, advisor to Kim. “Our initial business proposal didn’t look like a business proposal. It looked like why we can’t do business in Haiti.’’

But that was before the U.S. government stepped in, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal plea on behalf of Haiti during a Korea visit.

With the Haitian government donating the land and compensating farmers, the U.S. plans to build 5,000 houses, a 25-megawatt electricity grid for the park and surrounding area, and a waste and water treatment plant as part of its $124 million contribution. The Inter-American Development Bank is contributing over $100 million for construction of buildings and roads.

“These kinds of investment deals are incredibly hard,’’ said Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, who has been credited with leading the effort for more than a year to bring together all sides including Haiti’s private sector. “They take prolonged coordination and consultation, and accommodation and negotiation. But ultimately what they really take is an audacious amount of faith.’’

It is this faith, the U.S. and others are banking on as they seek to revive Haiti’s post-earthquake shattered economy by helping the nation’s garment industry take better advantage of U.S.-Congress approved duty-free trade legislation. Once boasting 100,000 jobs, the industry has just 28,000. About 9,000 of those were created because of the removal of tariffs.

Last May, a sympathetic Congress extended the trade benefits to 2020.

Now Haiti’s private sector is hoping to attract 60,000 new jobs with the industrial park in the north. They are also eyeing another park in the south, just outside of the quake-ravaged capital of Port-au-Prince.

“We are no longer talking just about garment assembly. We are talking about a true textile industry short of planting cotton. That is what is being developed,’’ said Georges Sassine, who is also responsible for implementing the U.S. Congress-approved duty-free legislation benefiting the garment industry.

Sae-A’s revenues are more than doubled Haiti’s garment industry’s $512 million exports for 2009. In addition to Haitian managers, the company has committed to pay line workers at least four times Haiti’s average $640 GDP per capita. The facility itself will boast a cooling system, recreational facilities and a football field. With the construction bid package currently being prepared to go out next month, the first phase has already been laid out. Sae-A’s operations will occupy 126 of 185 acres, said Mark D’Sa, a Miami-based executive with GAP who has been on loan with the State Department to help Haiti better take advantage of trade legislation.

D’Sa said other potential clients include a furniture maker and two other apparel companies. Not far from the site, and separate from the industrial park, the Dominican government is planning to build a university.

Still, the deal has detractors with some protesting using farmland for what some are calling “sweatshops.’’ Government officials say the land belongs to the state and compensation packages are being worked out for farmers who have been illegally living off it.

“We have sought investments outside of Port-au-Prince for years,’’ said Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. “In Haiti, the real tough infrastructure investments in energy, ports, and industrial zones have largely been avoided. It’s these investments that will generate the productive base of which Haiti can grow and prosper economically.’’

ARTICLE - EU - 15 MLN FOR DISASTER HELP

EU PLEDGES 15 MLN DOLLARS TO HELP HAITI HANDLE NATURAL DISASTERS
(Xinhua) -

The European Union (EU) said Tuesday it will offer Haiti 15 million U.S. dollars to the help strengthen the country's natural disaster and emergency response.

The money is expected to be available before the 2011 hurricane season starts.

The offer was announced in Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti, after the signing of an agreement between Haiti's Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime and Lut Faber-Gossens, head of an EU delegation.

"Haiti will get an urgent operative center to deal with the immediate response to natural disasters with equipment and material needed by specialized emergency teams," the EU envoy told local radio Metropole.

The center will help improve coordination of relief work by fire departments and forces from civil protection units, he said.

Faber-Gossens said the funds are a part of more than 50 million dollars the EU plans to donate to Haiti in its ongoing reconstruction efforts after last year's devastating 7.3-magnitude earthquake which killed at least 250,000 people and left an estimated 800,000 homeless.

Reconstruction in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, has been made more difficult by an ongoing cholera epidemic which has caused nearly 4,800deaths since it broke out last October.

ARTICLE - CANADA FEARED POPULAR UPRISING

CANADA FEARED POPULAR UPRISING IN HAITI AFTER 2010 EARTHQUAKE
(Toronto Star) - CP

MONTREAL — Federal documents show the Canadian government feared Haiti was at risk of a popular uprising following last year’s devastating earthquake.

Documents marked “secret” and obtained by The Canadian Press say the earthquake in January 2010 created a political vacuum that was likely to be exploited.

They also mention rumours that former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was plotting a return from exile in the immediate aftermath of the tremor.

The documents were prepared by officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs and released through access-to-information legislation.

They detail Ottawa’s extensive concerns about the legitimacy of the Haitian government and the scope of the reconstruction efforts.

Haitians are currently awaiting the preliminary results of a recent presidential election run-off.

ARTICLE - FRAUD FOUND IN ELECTIONS

FRAUD FOUND IN HAITI ELECTIONS: OFFICIAL
(AFP)

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haitian officials said Wednesday that the second round run-off in the nation's presidential and legislative elections had been marked by fraud.

Some 1,518 tally sheets from the presidential vote were put aside awaiting a final decision on their validity as they were "visibly fraudulent," the head of the Provisional Electoral Council, Widmack Matador told journalists.

But he did not reply when asked whether the findings would cast doubt on the results of the polls in which popular singer Michel Martelly, 50, faced off against former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70.

The first round of the elections in November were also marred by widespread corruption, forcing the election commission to oust President Rene Preval's handpicked successor and allow Martelly to run instead.

The Organization of American States, which has been monitoring the vote, noted in a probe into the first round of the elections that there were some 11,181 polling stations spread across the country.

If the election commission's figures released Wednesday are confirmed, that would mean some 14 percent of tally sheets from the March 20 run-off had been tampered with.

On Tuesday, the electoral commission said the announcement of the provisional presidential election results had been delayed by four days to April 4. Final results are not expected until April 16.

The candidates are vying for the job of rebuilding the Caribbean nation devastated by a January 2010 earthquake that flattened the capital Port-au-Prince, claiming more than 225,000 lives.

ARTICLE - ELECTION RESULTS DELAYED

ANNOUNCEMENT OF HAITI ELECTION RESULTS DELAYED
(Montreal Gazette) - By Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti elections officials are delaying the announcement of preliminary elections results in the country's presidential and legislative elections until Monday.

The preliminary announcement over who won the March 20 runoff presidential elections that pitted Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly, 50, against former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70, was due Thursday.

But on Tuesday, elections officials released a communique saying that the volume and verification of the vote required that the announcement be delayed by four days.

"The volume of the tally sheets examined by the lawyers in the vote tabulation center has been augmented significantly," the announcement said. "The tabulation center's primary mission is to protect the integrity of the election and the vote."

In the first round, only about 10 per cent of the tally sheets were inspected. Now, more than 15,200 — or 60 per cent — of all the tally sheets that arrived in the voting tabulation center following the runoff have been set aside for inspection of fraud.

Because of this, "the verification process by the lawyers is much larger and more complex and longer for each tally sheet particularly for those regarding the presidential elections," the communique said.

Workers must open all of the bags and verify the voting identifications with barcode readers. The bags and tally sheets also are inspected for tampering.

Also affecting the process are recommendations the Organization of American States asked elections officials to put in place following the chaotic and fraud-ridden first round to ensure the integrity of the vote.

Foreign observers say some fraud is being discovered, although different from the simple ballot stuffing of the first round.

VIDEO - MARTELLY AND PRESIDENT PREVAL

Michel (Sweet) Martelly is known as a musician but Rene Preval might have a career in music too once he is finished being President.

Here is footage of Rene Preval playing the drums and canastas at a Kanaval party in 2007 with Michel Martelly. Enjoy!

Follow the link to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG_EtlsmPsE

photos - election - 2nd round - part 13

It was good to see people out voting for the 2nd round. With all the problems of the 1st round people were still determined to come out and vote for the 2nd round.
One of the people who voted at the Building 2004 told us that he had seen us out front of Aristide's place the day he returned and he said that today he voted for Martelly. The people want someone to help them get out of the poverty they are in. To some it is like a trap and they are searching for someone to get them out of the trap of poverty; whether it be Aristide or Martelly.


A lot of young voters were out on election day too. A good thing to see.


At some of the big voting centers it was necessary to have lots of security for crowd control.


The square in front of the Lycee was littered with Michel Martelly cards. After Martelly's arrival to vote the large crowd that came to see him left, leaving all these cards strewn on the ground.

photos - election - 2nd round - part 14

The man behind this fresco wagon was probably regretting the departure of the Martelly crowd. He wanted to make sales to thirsty voters!
The Boy and Girl Scouts of Haiti were volunteering their time and assisting at the voting centers. Here is one on the right side of the picture.


All this work and time to determine a President to lead the country.


The park in front of the Lycee is starting to be bare. Some of the refugees are starting to leave the park. The government is giving them a lump sum to rent in another area; according to the people not enough money.


These are the tents that still remain in the public park. It will be the job of the new president to come up with a plan and a solution to get the people out of the refuge camps throughout the city.

photos - election - 2nd round - part 15

The Mayor of Petionville wants to transform the park into a green area again. A billboard shows this vision.
The international community have a large interest in the outcome of the presidential elections. The people want their assistance. This RCMP officer at one voting center was kept busy talking to voters who had questions.


Now the election observers are waiting and observing the counting and auditing process of voting day. As of today they are still observing the work being done at the voting tabulation center.


Digicel and Voila, 2 of the major cell phone companies here in Haiti see up a special number that voters could call to find out where their voting booths were. Thousands of people sent text messages to find out where they needed to vote.


Sony came with us on March 20th. We sort of lost him in the crowd on voting day. Because he didn't have an id card he was not allowed to access the places that Amos and I were able to but he enjoyed waiting and seeing Michel Martelly arrive to vote!

photos - election - 2nd round - part 16

Amos enjoys our opportunities to play in the streets as photo journalists! A lot of video that we took couldn't be posted because of our slow internet connection. I am going to try at a local cyber cafe. Video shows even more than a photo does.
I enjoy playing on the streets too! Pray for the electoral process; that a person who the people voted for be elected.


A couple weeks ago, a haitian journalist came to our gate with a 13-year-old girl. On the day of the earthquake she lost her entire family. She survived because she was doing homework at a friends' house. Since the day of the earthquake she has lived on the streets of Port-au-Prince. It is sad because during this time she has been beaten and raped. We took her in and I contacted Chris at HIS Home For Children. They have opened a home for girls who are rape victims. They had an opening in their program and accepted her.


While she was waiting for Chris to come over and pick her up she played with a doll that Nairobi has. She was unsure at first and quiet...


But in a couple of hours she relaxed and even started to smile as she helped Trish and the other children make some snacks. Hal told us the next day that this girl woke up with a smile on her face. Shen now has a new home where she will go to school and get some vocational training for when she becomes an adult. Pray for this girl and for HIS Home for Children as they help these children who were victims of rape.

photos - various - part 17

Sterly Milfort is a 6-year-old girl who was born with a congenital defect - Turner's Syndrome. We brought her to a visiting plastic surgeon from the United States and he diagnosed her with this syndrome. Turners Syndrome is caused when a female does not have the usual pair of 2 "x" chromosomes in her DNA strucure. As a result certain characteristics are shown. One of the signs is a wide and webbed neck. You can see that her neck is wide and the webbing restricts movement of her head. The plastic surgeon is going to do surgery in June on her neck to improve her mobility. Another symptom is a broad, flat chest shaped like a shield.
Another symptom is a short height. Because she is missing the 2 "x" chromosomes her puberty development will be affected and she will probably not be able to have children. If she were living in the United States or Canada she would be probably be given growth hormone therapy and also estrogen replacement therapy when she reaches 12 years of age. I am not sure what can be done for her here, but we hope to keep in contact with the family and support her with her challenges.


We do most of our laboratory blood work at Med Lab which is located at Canape Vert Hospital. It is a good laboratory and is recognized as an American level lab with modern equipment and skilled staff. They give us a discount and we are also able to obtain results online which makes things a lot easier as well. The day we took this picture we had brought a young boy who is seen walking with his mother (orange dress) and a woman (brown t-shirt and skirt) for blood tests. Thank you for your financial support that enables us to help some of the people with their medical needs.


Across the street from the Canape Vert Hospital is this view. The hillside of this area has been built up over the years as the population of Port-au-Prince grew. There was quite a bit of destruction in this area during the earthquake, especially of the larger homes along Canape Vert.


Across the street from the Hospital is the collapsed building of the Journalists Association. Work is now being done at removing the rubble.

photos - various - part 18

The rubble is slowly disappearing bit by bit at the many sites across the city. It will take years for the city to rebuild but the people walk and work around the rubble trying to carry on with their lives.
The Haitian people are determined and so are all the foreigners working here in Haiti to help improve the lives of the people.


Wherever we go the work teams are seen carrying buckets of rubble from a house site to the road where it is then dumped in a pile. Eventually when a big enough pile is formed a dump truck and loader will remove this pile.


This man is resting against this broken wall.


So much has happened over a one-year period - earthquake, rain storms, cholera and election turmoil. There is a large billboard at the intersection of Airport Rd. and Delmas which says in creole that "Jesus Christ will return on May 21, 2011; This is what the Bible reveals; Isaiah 13:6". All I can say to this is that the bible says that no one can predict the day of his return. Only He knows which day it is; and when He does return it won't be a bad thing for the Haitian people. The people have already gone through a lot of tribulation. Pray for the people of Haiti, that their hearts will turn to the Lord and pray for the world too..... for one day Jesus will return.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

CALWENS

This week is exam week for schools here in Haiti. Calwens didn't come to school. His older brother pictured on the far right came today to tell us the news that Calwen's mother died on Thursday. She had had a caesarean surgery a few days before she died. The baby was delivered but Calwens' mother suddenly died, 3 days later. Now there is a newborn baby without a mother. Calwens' father died several years ago and the man that his mother was now with took over responsibity for helping to provide for her children. We are not sure about Calwens' future. A blind handicapped person is not accepted well in Haitian society. With his mother gone I am not sure if his step-father will accept him. Tomorrow we are going to drive over to where Calwens and his family lives to see how they are doing. Pray for the family and especially for Calwens. He is now an orphan. This is a recent photo that we took when Marlene's team was here.

ARTICLE - AID AGENCIES - NEED TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE

AID AGENCIES MUST LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE THEY'RE HELPING
(Guardian.co.uk) - By Nicholas Van Praag

We spend $10bn a year on humanitarian emergencies, but most projects are run without asking how beneficiaries feel about them

Lord Ashdown's review of how the UK responds to humanitarian emergencies points to a major shortcoming in today's humanitarian aid system: the absence of a systematic effort to assess whether beneficiaries are satisfied with the efforts made on their behalf by UN agencies and NGOs.

Over the past five years, we have seen a marked increase in the focus on accountability in what is now a $10bn a year humanitarian industry. But there is no systematic approach to assessing humanitarian operations through the eyes of recipients. Running aid programmes without understanding how beneficiaries feel about them is to ignore the simplest test of client satisfaction. It is amazing that donors have been willing to make funding decisions without any customer input for as long as they have.

As we see in north Africa and Asia, many push factors continue to drive humanitarian assistance – from natural disasters to global pandemics, climate-induced population displacement, war and food insecurity. These disasters have given rise to a four-fold increase in humanitarian funding since 2000 and a concomitant demand for greater accountability. Yet without the perspective of the beneficiaries, it is hard to find out whether claims about results are borne out by what is being done to help ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.

In response, a lot of effort has gone into improving the scrutiny of humanitarian operations, and learning lessons for the future. For the most part, though, we still depend on humanitarian agencies to provide the requested data on health, nutrition and other indices of impact. Some donors do undertake their own evaluations of things they have funded – but it's rare that we hear directly from those affected about whether needs are being met, if they were consulted, or whether they are being adequately protected.

Several humanitarian NGOs have signed up to standards of accountability to beneficiaries. This is an important step, but there is a difference between declarations of intent and actual practice on the ground. We must also regularly ask those affected if they are safe, fed and sheltered – and how they feel about their future prospects.

To respond to Lord Ashdown's challenge we need a new effort, one that completes the circle of evaluation by going straight to the beneficiaries. Regular information on citizen's perceptions is available in most high-income and some middle-income states, but only rarely is it gathered from refugee camps and displaced people shelters.

Yet polling surveys and focus groups are cheap, and can be used frequently. The digital revolution extends the range of these tools and makes it possible to measure perceptions very quickly. Mobile phones are already being used to monitor development projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – checking if teachers turn up to school, or clinics are stocked with basic supplies. Also in DRC, an experiment launched by Mobile Accord, a mobile applications service provider, with Vodacom Congo and the World Bank, used mobile phones to carry out a nationwide survey of people's perceptions of their security and broader wellbeing. The level of opt-in was impressive, with more than 100,000 people regularly taking part over an eight-week period.

Care International saw the same enthusiasm when it placed suggestion boxes in displaced people's camps in Haiti last year. Soon they were stuffed with messages from people living in the camps, offering lots of smart ideas – as well as hard-to-meet demands.

Eliciting feedback is one thing; responding to it adequately is another. But these examples underline the importance, as well as the feasibility, of checking the performance of humanitarian programmes against the perceptions of those on the receiving end of international aid.

What is missing from the many evaluation reports in the inboxes of humanitarian agencies and donors are independent and systematic assessments based on feedback from beneficiaries themselves. Capturing their views would complement and give context to conventional data-driven assessments. It would ensure that people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection are better served, and that the resources intended to help them are better used.

What is more, it would increase the credibility, and thus attractiveness to potential donors, of those humanitarian agencies that can show they are doing what their beneficiaries need them to do.

• Nicholas van Praag is an adviser to the 2011 World Development Report on conflict and development, due to be published next month

ARTICLE - HELPING HAITIANS PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

HELPING HAITIANS PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
(ReliefWeb) - Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - www.undp.org

Cap Haitien -- The Government of Haiti and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the first prevention plan to reduce vulnerability to seismic threats.

The new plan aims to reduce impacts in earthquake-prone areas by improving resilience of infrastructure and reducing risks for Haitians in poor housing.

"Today we are pleased to announce this plan," said Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, Haiti's Minister of Interior and Local Authorities. "This plan needs to be systematically implemented from now onwards to be able to make a meaningful impact."

Earthquake prevention planning will be conducted in consultations with mayors and community associations. Schools, hospitals and other public buildings will be assessed first on how to strengthen their structure.

UNDP and local governments will train Haitian architects, engineers and masons in construction techniques for earthquake-resistant structures. They will also initiate awareness programmes to inform Haitians of necessary actions that could minimize the impact of seismic threats on their lives.

"There are crucial decisions to me made by people," said Calais, Professor of Geophysics at Purdue University, who was hired to evaluate seismic risks and develop a strategy to reduce future earthquake impacts." If people have to choose between buying better quality construction material which is earthquake resilient, or building an extra room with the same cost, of course they should choose the first."

This plan was recently approved by the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission, a panel composed of Haitian government officials, former US President Bill Clinton, the UN and other international partners.

ARTICLE - ECONOMIC COST OF DISASTERS

ECONOMIC COST OF DISASTERS ROSE THREEFOLD IN 2010
(Globe and Mail) - AP

GENEVA - The economic cost of natural and man-made disasters jumped threefold to $218-billion (U.S.) in 2010 from $68-billion the previous year, with earthquakes the main cause of death and destruction, insurer Swiss Reinsurance Co. said Tuesday.

Some 304,000 people died in disasters last year, a sharp rise from 15,000 in 2009. Haiti's earthquake alone claimed 222,000 lives, while almost 56,000 people were killed by Russia's summer heatwave and over 6,200 people died from floods in China and Pakistan.

The Zurich-based company said insurers bore $43-billion of the cost of disasters last year, a 60 per cent year-on-year increase. The earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand had insured losses of over $12-billion, it said. Eight other disasters, including storms in the United States, Germany, France and Australia cost insurers more than $1-billion last year.

The only man-made catastrophe to make the costliest top ten was the Deepwater Horizon explosion that caused a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In its annual report, Swiss Re predicted that losses from recent quakes in New Zealand and Japan will make 2011 another expensive year for insurers.

“Although no long-term trend of increasing global earthquake activity has emerged, the number of fatalities and insured losses from earthquakes are on the rise,” Balz Grollimund, one of the report's authors, was quoted as saying. “The main reasons are population growth, the higher number of people living in urban areas as well as rising wealth and rapidly increasing exposures.”

With his industry's interests in mind, Swiss Re's chief economist Thomas Hess also noted that many developing countries have poor disaster insurance coverage. Some of the new-found wealth in countries like China should be used to improve emergency preparedness and insurance protection against extreme weather events such as flooding, he said.

ARTICLE - UN NEEDS 'LEADERSHIP OVERHAUL'

UN NEEDS 'COMPLETE LEADERSHIP OVERHAUL', SAYS BRITISH STUDY
(Montreal Gazette) - By Steven Edwards

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations is proficient at raising money from governments in times of emergency, but "very disappointing" in its ability to respond to the actual disaster, according to an independent review commissioned by the British government.

"There is rarely a vision beyond fundraising, and rarely an organizing narrative that draws together the disparate capacities," says the 61-page report, released Monday. "What is needed is a complete overhaul of strategic and operational leadership in the UN."

The study highlights shortfalls that are likely to also raise alarm bells among Canadian politicians and others focused on Ottawa's contributions to UN humanitarian efforts.

It was led by Paddy Ashdown, former leader of Britain's Liberal-Democrats, who also served as UN high representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Regrettably, the leadership, management and co-ordination of the international community's efforts have not risen even to the challenges we currently face."

Ashdown says in the foreword to his Humanitarian Emergency Response Review. "Unless we radically improve the quality of the leadership of the international effort in humanitarian crises, we will not succeed in dealing with what is ahead."

The study drew its conclusions after studying responses to a series of recent humanitarian disasters, including flooding in Pakistan, the earthquake in Haiti, and famine in Niger.

It says governments have come to look at the UN as the "only legitimate authority" in situations where a government of an affected country is unable to mount an effective humanitarian response.

But it adds: "In all but one of the case studies for this review, UN leadership was poor. This was especially true in the larger disasters. It is true at a strategic level and at an operational level. It is true across the international system, and in individual crises."

The report praises the World Food Program — to which Canada is the world's third-biggest contributor after the United States and the European Commission — for "rapidly delivering food to seven million people in flood-hit Pakistan." It also says UNICEF, the children's agency, was efficient in supplying infant food throughout Niger.

But it highlights the UN's "inability to treat and contain" the cholera outbreak in Haiti last year. More widely, it hints at unhealthy competition between the UN agencies by saying they "need to work more collegially."

Britain's 10-month-old Conservative-led coalition government called for the study to review how Britain responds to humanitarian emergencies.

A significant part of the report focused on the UN because the organization and its agencies are among the world's biggest deliverers of emergency help.

Ashdown led a task force of humanitarian experts from inside and outside government who began their study six months after the Haiti earthquake at the beginning of 2010.

ARTICLE - OAS-CARICOM CONTINUES OBSERVATION

THE JOINT OAS-CARICOM MISSION CONTINUES ITS ACTIVITIES IN HAITI (The Bahamas Weekly) - By OAS - www.oas.org

HAITI - The Joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission (JEOM) will maintain its presence in the 11 electoral departments of Haiti until the proclamation of the final results on April 16, 2011, despite the departure of more than 160 observers.

The JEOM observers are present in the Vote Tabulation Centre (CTV) round-the-clock since this phase began on March 21, 2011. The observers are monitoring the new procedures put in place for the processing of the result sheets (“procès-verbaux”) and the application of criteria for verification to ensure the integrity and transparency of the tabulation process. The JEOM notes the strengthening of the capacity of the Legal Control Unit (UCL), which has now 16 lawyers whose task is to determine the validity of the result sheets brought to their attention. The Mission has noted that compared to the first round, a greater amount of result sheets were sent to the UCL. The Joint Mission reminds all actors involved in this process and the Haitian citizens that it is essential that a rigorous and consistent verification be done in strict compliance with the criteria established and published by the CEP. This will lead to the publication of reliable preliminary results.

The Mission is concerned about the statements made by presidential and legislative candidates campaign teams and allies on the voting trends of the March 20 election. Premature announcements of victory are harmful to public order and the smooth unfolding of the electoral process by creating expectations among their supporters that might not be founded.

The JEOM reminds all presidential and legislative candidates, and their campaign teams and allies, that any information available on the election outcome is partial and that the vote tabulation currently underway should lead to the publication of preliminary results on March 31. The Mission understands the candidates’ eagerness to know the results. However, it wishes to point out to the two presidential candidates in particular that one of them will be elected President of the Republic and, as such, will be responsible for the proper functioning of institutions and the maintenance of public order. They should therefore demonstrate as of now the sense of responsibility they will have to display when taking the helm of the affairs of the Republic by appealing to their teams and supporters to await the publication of the preliminary results to avoid creating false expectations and to respect the verdict of the ballot box.

The Mission also deplores the acts of intimidation that have taken place since the elections and that are the result of tensions between the legislative candidates in some localities. The Mission calls on all political leaders, political groups and their supporters to contribute to the maintenance of a calm and peaceful atmosphere as they await the publication of the preliminary results of the presidential and legislative elections.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

ARTICLE - DUVALIER LEAVES HOSPITAL

HAITI EX-DICTATOR DUVALIER LEAVES HOSPITAL
(Inquirer) - AFP

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was released from a private hospital where he was being treated for an undisclosed ailment, his longtime companion told AFP.

"He's going back home. He's doing much better," Duvalier's partner Veronique Roy told AFP.

Duvalier was admitted to the hospital last week shortly after receiving a court order limiting his mobility to the Haitian capital.

A close Duvalier associate told AFP however that the ailing former dictator was still not completely well.

"He is very sick," the friend said, asking not to be identified.

"He's going home because he can receive visits from his friends there," the associate said.

Duvalier's attorneys have said they would file an appeal challenging the restriction on his movements, which they decried as unfair and "arbitrary."

Duvalier made a surprise return to Haiti in January, prompting prosecutors to charge the 59-year-old with corruption, embezzlement of public funds and criminal association during his 15-year rule that ended in 1986.

Human rights activists and experts have accused Duvalier of returning to Haiti to prevent the confiscation of at least $5.7 million in frozen Swiss bank accounts.

The former dictator upon his return said he had come back to work for national unity.

He was preceded as Haiti's president by his father Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who also imposed authoritarian rule on the impoverished Caribbean nation.

ARTICLE - INT'L HELP TO PROSECUTE BABY DOC

HAITI SEEKS INTERNATIONAL HELP TO PROSECUTE BABY DOC
(TimesLive) - By Sapa-dpa

Haiti's government says it would need help from international jurists to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier for alleged human rights crimes committed during his reign more than 25 years ago.

Justice Minister Andre Antoine told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Monday that Haiti's judges and prosecutors lack the training and experience necessary to handle a case of crimes against humanity.

"The magistrates are players in this game, it is like a football match: if they don't have a good manager, it will be difficult to win," Antoine said.

"We recognise that our justice system is weak and needs to be reinforced."

Former justice minister Jean-Joseph Exume told the commission that 16 individual cases had been filed against Duvalier in the court system starting immediately after his January 16 return to the country from 25 years of exile.

Exume said "concrete measures" would be necessary to protect plaintiffs and witnesses.

Antoine also said prosecution of Duvalier for human rights violations was of international importance.

"It is not only a Haitian matter, because convicting Duvalier would send a psychological message to humanity, to all the dictators or to those who are tempted by power (that) the law will not pardon them, that punishments await them," he said.

Duvalier ruled Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. His father, Francois, ruled as "president for life" from 1957 until his death.

The family reign has long been accused of widespread human rights violations including murders, torture and disappearances.

Monday, March 28, 2011

ARTICLE - FEAR OF WEATHER DISASTERS

HAITI'S QUAKE SURVIVORS FEAR WEATHER DISASTERS
(Reuters AlertNet) - By Jean Daniel Delone

PORT-AU-PRINCE- Survivors of Haiti's January 2010 earthquake fear that their precarious living conditions are making them more vulnerable to extreme weather like storms, as well as longer-term climate change.

Experts are concerned that the quake-hit nation is in no position to tackle the growing threat from global warming, which could bring more intense hurricanes to the Caribbean region.

"I've noticed the climate changing in Haiti since 1986, and since then, there have been dangerous storms and hurricanes," says Yvelt Chery, an expert with the Centre National de Meteorologie (national meteorology centre).

"It's very clear...because it's supposed to be the dry season now, but it rains every night and this is causing lots of problems."

Increasingly heavy rains linked to climate change are a threat to food production, because they will wash away crops and prevent farmers planting on flooded land, Chery adds. Around two-thirds of Haitians scrape a meagre living from agriculture.

Absolu Lajoie, 27, a stone-breaker who lives in a makeshift shelter in the Cite Soleil slum area of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, says he has no choice but to grab his important papers and run whenever bad weather hits.

"The water always gets into my tent, and when it's windy, my tent flaps around," he says. "There are four of us in the tent and I'm really worried about the extreme weather.

"I've been here since the earthquake and this the worst time I've known in my life. If my country were able to take care of things, I would not be that frightened," Lajoie adds.

FEW FORESTS, LITTLE PLANNING

Each year, Haiti braces itself for the Atlantic hurricane season, which often wreaks havoc on people, livestock and farms. In August and September 2008, four large storms swept across the impoverished nation, killing hundreds of people and destroying half the crops under cultivation.

The country has become even more exposed to hazards, including heavy rains and earthquakes, because there are few regulations to stop people cutting down trees or building in risky areas.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), forest covers just two percent of Haiti’s land, leaving it exposed to soil erosion and flooding. And around 85 percent of watersheds - a crucial source of water for households and crops, and a buffer against flooding - have fallen into disrepair.

Meteorologist Chery warns that, in the wake of the huge 2010 earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, Haiti remains highly unprepared for additional disasters. The government should alert people to the dangers of living in places at risk of landslides and flooding, he adds.

Joelle Fontilus, director of the Port-au-Prince city hall, says planning controls in many parts of the island nation - including Saint-Marc, La Saline, Grande Saline, Artibonite and Port-au-Prince - should be tightened.

The threat has been exacerbated by rubble from the quake falling into drains, canals and the sea, raising water levels, explains Fontilus. "When it rains, many places are flooded, so if the situation gets worse the country will be completely devastated," she warns.

Given the lack of action by the government and international community, all the mayor's office can do is campaign to make people more aware of the risks they face, especially those living in the worst conditions in tents, she says.

LIMITED RESOURCES

Around 680,000 people are still sheltering in camps in quake-affected areas, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), down from nearly 1.54 million at the height of the crisis.

The IOM says it is doing what it can with limited resources to help Haitians reduce the risk of disasters such as flooding from storms.

IOM staff are providing information to people in the 800 to 900 camps it supports, and have distributed kits and medical supplies to help people deal with hazards, according to Bradley Mellicker, an emergency preparedness and response officer for the inter-governmental agency.

“We also have teams in different parts of the country giving people assistance so they can face major environmental problems,” he says.

For example, many parts of Port-au-Prince, such as Martissan and Cite Soleil, are full of garbage that has been washed down from denuded slopes by rainfall run-off.

“One important aim of our project is to plant trees and grass to keep water on the mountains and in higher places just to minimise the risks,” Mellicker explains.

Other measures planned by the IOM include cleaning out canals, erecting evacuation shelters to accommodate people when extreme weather hits, and removing rubble from the sea to lower the water level.

INCREASINGLY VULNERABLE

Yet for those families who have yet to move into adequate housing more than a year after the earthquake, it takes very little - just a bout of heavy rain or strong winds - to tip their lives back into crisis.

Student Mislene Valius, 22, lives 30 metres from a canal in Vallé de Bourdon in the Haitian capital. “When it rains, I have to go up on the roof or the hill to avoid being struck by disaster," she says. "My worries are growing more and more because my country can't take care of this situation."

Dorvil Sonson, a 47-year-old carpenter, says his family no longer gets visitors since the quake forced them to move to a tent city above a ravine in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince.

"I live in a tent with my wife and three children, and you know it's a risk living here, because if there's a landslide we'll be among the victims," he says.

"When I listen to the news, I hear that many countries are suffering from disaster. But my country can't take anymore after the...earthquake."

If the Haitian government and international aid agencies fail to step up efforts to protect vulnerable people like these, they will continue to lurch from one disaster to the next, leaving them ever more exposed to the future impacts of climate change.

Jean Daniel Delone is a Haitian freelance journalist based in Port-au-Prince.

ARTICLE - BRITAIN - MORE FREQUENT DISASTERS

BRITAIN WARNS THAT GOVERNMENTS MUST PREPARE FOR MORE FREQUENT MEGA-DISASTERS LIKE QUAKES
(CP) - AP

LONDON — A British government report says major disasters like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami or Pakistan's floods are likely to become more frequent and global governments must prepare for an uncertain future.

The author Paddy Ashdown, a House of Lords member and ex-United Nations high representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, said rich nations must help poorer countries to build up their defences against disasters. The report was issued Monday by the international development ministry.

Ashdown said a lack of prior support for Haiti and Pakistan had worsened the impact of recent events there.

He said scientists believe that recent natural disasters were not an aberration, but "the beginnings of a new kind of future in which mega-disasters are going to be more frequent."

ARTICLE - UN LAUNCHES HAITI REPORT

UN official launches Haiti report
(Khaleej Times) - By Lily B. Libo-on

DUBAI — Valerie Amos, the United Nations’ Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, launched the “Disaster Relief 2.0: The future of information sharing and humanitarian emergencies” here on Monday.

The report was launched during the opening ceremony of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development (DIHAD) Conference and Exhibition at World Trade Center.

Amos said the global launch marked the collaboration between the volunteer technical community and the humanitarian system, which analysed how the humanitarian community and the emerging volunteer and technical communities worked together in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and recommended the ways to improve coordination between these communities in future emergencies.

She said four things were learned from the Haiti earthquake, it being a huge disaster.

“Generally, main lesson out of our evaluation is the importance of working with the national government and its different departments so that UN agencies, our international partners are really working with local capacity.

Second this is the importance of listening to local communities about what is it that they want when you go in to help.

Third is access to information and making sure that the information available is sufficient to enable us to make decisions on what we have to do.

“The fourth is the importance of making sure that we work with local government and communities to help them prepare for future emergencies so that they will be able to respond properly in the future,” she said.

“We may again look at the lesson learnt in Haiti and apply it elsewhere but we have to be aware that every country is different to have it in the same or different context. The most important is the recognition that any country can benefit from it.

It’s not how prepared are you. But, it is always good to review what you have done and what mechanisms are in place.”

ARTICLE - UN REPORT - INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY OPENS NEW ROUTES FOR EMERGENCY DISASTER RELIEF - UN REPORT (UN) - http://www.un.org/ ; OCHA - www.unocha.org

The vital role of new information technology in responding rapidly to sudden onset emergencies is highlighted in a new United Nations study released today, identifying best practice and lessons learned from last year’s devastating Haitian earthquake.

“The challenge is to improve coordination between the structured humanitarian system and the relatively loosely organized volunteer and technical communities,” UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said at the report’s launch in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“This report illustrates a potential way forward. Without direct collaboration with humanitarian organizations, volunteer and technical communities run the risk of mapping needs without being able to make sure that these needs can be met.”

The study, Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies, launched at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference 2011, analyzes how the humanitarian and emerging volunteer and technical communities collaborated in the aftermath of the Haitian quake that killed more than 200,000 people and made 1.3 million more homeless, and recommends ways to improve coordination in future emergencies.

Commissioned by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation, it was written by researchers led by John Crowley at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, based on interviews with some 40 technology and humanitarian experts, many of whom responded to the Haitian quake.

UN Foundation Chairman Ted Turner noted that the quake showed that interconnected people were increasingly central to emergency response and recovery. “Haitians trapped under rubble used text messaging to send peas for help,” he wrote in a foreword. “Concerned citizens worldwide engaged in a variety of ways, from sending in donations via SMS to using shared networks to translate and map requests for assistance.

“Powered by cloud-, crowd-, and SMS-based technologies, individuals can now engage in disaster responses at an unprecedented level.”

The report spells out how hundreds of geo-spatial information systems experts used fresh satellite imagery to rebuild missing maps of Haiti and plot a picture of the changed reality on the ground, an essential elements that provided much of the street-level mapping data used for logistics and camp management.

“Humanitarian crises from Libya to Japan remind us that fast and accurate information is imperative in effective emergency response efforts,” UN Foundation chief executive officer Kathy Calvin said. “Today’s increased access to collaborative technologies and networks presents an important innovation milestone and an opportunity to rethink how data about urgent humanitarian needs are gathered, processed and shared.”

Ms. Amos underscored the role of technology in her opening address to the Dubai conference. “In a world awash with information, one of the biggest challenges is to pinpoint the right information to enable us to make good decisions,” she said. “More than ever, our collective energy, resources and efforts are needed to strengthen our humanitarian response capacity. The emphasis this conference is placing on new technologies is very appropriate.”

Ms. Amos also met with Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, wife of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to thank her for her strong support and deep engagement in humanitarian affairs.

ARTICLE - NEO-HUMANITARISM AND TECHNOLOGY

Neo-Humanitarians: Technology and the Future of Humanitarian Aid
(Huffington Post) - By John Crowley

The quiet heroes of humanitarian operations rarely make the news. While reports from Japan and Libya flow across the headlines, field staff in South Sudan is now helping survivors of renewed village burnings. Logisticians in Liberia are planning for a major influx of refugees from Cote d'Ivoire. And NGOs and UN agencies in Haiti continue to aid one of the poorest countries on earth.

Their work is more complex than most know. Good intentions are no guarantee of good outcomes. The complicated interactions of politics, environment, and international aid often create unexpected results. Seasoned professionals therefore rely on wisdom amassed from decades of field operations. But new communication technologies just made that equation more complicated.

While reports from Twitter and SMS make sexy headlines, verifying reports of violence and needs is difficult. One must work across language as well as the intentions of the tweeter and re-tweeters. Because most humanitarians already work 20-hour days, they lack time to analyze thousands of messages or to map them, which is why a new form of humanitarian is becoming so important: the volunteer humanitarian technologist.

From Cairo to Benghazi and Sendai, volunteer humanitarian technologists are connecting the informal realm of social media with the formal systems by which UN agencies and NGOs deliver aid. Some are working from their homes and offices; some are traveling into the field. Almost all are volunteers who operate without official support or funding.

These individuals -- perhaps numbering 5,000 -- are members of communities that are bringing the principles from open-source software and open data to humanitarian operations. Composed of experts that specialize in imagery, mapping, crowd-sourcing, they have demonstrated a power to bring change to the humanitarian space.

Connected by a growing global network of cell phones and Internet devices, these neo-humanitarians coordinate through loose hierarchies and rough consensus. Like ants, they swarm around challenges, building on the notion that a collective intelligence can emerge from collective action -- that given any problem and a sufficiently large pool of minds, the solution will be obvious to someone. As a result, they have come to be seen as problem solvers who can work at tempi that bureaucracies cannot muster.

During the past year, they mapped the country of Haiti in 2.5 weeks -- a task that many cartographers think might have taken a more traditional organization more than a year to do. They worked with the Haitian diaspora to translate tens of thousands of pleas for help from Creole to English in near real time, and geo-located these translated messages on maps that search-and-rescue teams could use to plan their operations.

For all the power that these new humanitarian communities bring to crisis response, they are still outside the formal system by which the United Nations coordinates emergency operations. Most volunteer organizations lack resources to do more than provide a surge capacity of two weeks (after that time, volunteers generally must return to spouses, children, and employers.) Many are still building the processes by which they verify reports that arrive from the affected population. And all lack the protections afforded to organizations that work under the official humanitarian system, including the shield of neutrality enshrined in the laws of armed conflict.

The United Nations just took a step to tackle these issues. Working with the UN Foundation and Vodafone Foundation, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs commissioned the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to reflect on the operations of 2010 and devise a framework by which stakeholders could approach their differences as a design challenge. The report proposes an initial interface between the formal humanitarian system and these new volunteer communities.

It suggests creating a neutral space where the neo-humanitarians might align their efforts with existing international protocols governing humanitarian operations. And it creates frameworks to push venerable response systems to make needed adaptations. The report will be released by Baroness Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator on 28 March.

For humanitarians, it is a time of great hope and great challenge. If this new interface succeeds, a new generation will work within a more open system where it is normal for affected populations to communicate with donors, NGOs, and the United Nations through Facebook, OpenStreetMap, YouTube, Ushahidi, Twitter, and their successors. Humanitarians will still be quiet heroes, but they will be giving voice to the vulnerable in more effective ways.

ARTICLE - GENERAL TRANSPORT STRIKE - MONDAY

HAITI - TRANSPORT: GENERAL TRANSPORT STRIKE FOR 24 HOURS...
(HaitiLibre) -

Alexis Enock President of the Confederation of Workers in Public and Private Sectors (CSTP), which has over 6,500 members, has told the local media that the workers in the transport sector in Haiti, are "not ready" to assume an increase in fuel prices. "We are asking the state to reconsider its decision" saying that the transport unions do not support the increase, as stated by the Minister of Economy and Finance, Ronald Beaudin.

Enock Alexis reported that during a meeting at the Directorate-General of the Ministry of Social Affairs, the members of the Union have signed their refusal to increase the cost of transportation. Deploring this "arbitrary" measure that the population living in poverty, can not cope with.

Nevertheless, following these fuel increases and despite the assertions of the President of CSTP, public transport prices have increased by 25% or even 50% on some lines, causing tension between users and drivers...

Union leaders request the Government to reconsider and avoid variations in the cost of gasoline at the approach of the installation of the new Government, in April.

Several unions including the Association of Owners and Drivers of Haiti (APCH) and the Federation of Haitian Public Carriers (FTPH) have launched a demand for a general strike, in protest. They are calling on the population to take the streets to prevent the movement of all vehicles from Monday morning to Tuesday morning...

For its part, the UN Mission for Stabilization in Haiti (Minustah) said on Sunday, that they have prepared a plan to prevent violent clashes...

Reminder on the increase in petroleum products :

Gasoline 95 (octane index) increased from 196 gourds to 200 gourds (+2%),

Gasoline 91 increased from 172 gourds to 191 gourds (+11%).

Diesel increased from 119 gourds to 162 gourds (+36%) and

Kerosene increased from 112 gourds to 161 gourds (+43 %)

ARTICLE - RWANDA SENDING POLICE TO HAITI

RWANDA: 120 POLICE OFFICERS LEAVE FOR HAITI
(allAfrica)

Kigali — A contingent of 120 Police officers, Monday morning, left for a peace keeping mission to Haiti. The officers are joining an advance party of 40 who left last month.

This is the first time Rwanda has sent a Formed Police Unit (FPU) to any peace keeping mission. They will be serving under the mandate of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

According to the Police spokesperson, Superintendent Theos Badege, the Formed Police Unit will perform various peace keeping duties.

"They will maintain order, conduct patrols, guard VIP and key installations, provide humanitarian assistance and security of Internally Displaced Persons among other duties," Badege said.

The FPU equipped with light weapons and armored vehicles will be deployed in Jérémie Town, south of Haiti. The contingent is led by Chief Superintendent, Egide Ruzigamanzi.

Emmanuel Gasana, the Inspector General of Police, reminded the contingent that they are the ambassadors and pride of their country.

"You are renowned for your professionalism. I urge you to maintain an exemplary level of discipline and commitment throughout the twelve months of your stay in Haiti," Gasana told the officers before they departed.

In addition to the FPU, there are 34 Police advisors currently serving in Haiti.

Rwanda National Police currently has 374 peacekeeping officers serving in UN missions in Liberia, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Chad and Haiti.

"Rwanda is one of the Police contributing countries selected by United Nations to bring peace to the world. This is due to its professional and disciplined security organs and willingness to contribute to stability," Gasana said.

The Rwandan National Police is committed to ensuring the safety of its citizens and contribute to peace around the World.

ARTICLE - TRANSITIONING TO DEMOCRACY

TRANSITIONING TO DEMOCRACY IN HAITI, NORTH AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
(Media Newswire) -

Georges Fauriol, vice president of programs at the National Endowment for Democracy, discussed the importance of establishing a democratic government in Haiti and other countries during a public forum at UCF.

Georges Fauriol, vice president of programs at the National Endowment for Democracy, discussed the importance of establishing a democratic government in Haiti and other countries during a public forum at UCF.

Fauriol spoke to nearly 75 people at his presentation, which was organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office as a feature of the Haiti Speaker Series. He also presented at events in the community.

Fauriol’s speech focused on the elections in Haiti and political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. According to Fauriol, the United States has a great stake in the successes of transitions in Haiti, North Africa and the Middle East.

Fauriol said that, objectively, all democratic transitions have a chance of success if they follow the necessary steps, such as having open and fair elections, making sure electoral laws are crafted to encourage inclusiveness and ensuring the laws are administered with transparency.

Most importantly, he said, democratic transitions have the greatest likelihood of success when free and fair elections become routine, allowing people to develop a trust in them.

Fauriol said political reforms alone are not enough to make democracy work.

Economics play a key role, and democracy has to deliver, or else people become disillusioned, he said. In some circumstances, that means demonstrating in the streets and risking lives to generate change, similar to what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa.

For Haiti, Fauriol said, the challenge is that each political event seems to trigger another political crisis. The country demonstrates that failed transitions can create conditions of instability, and, coupled with the nation’s bad luck with natural disasters, severely hamper Haiti’s economic and governmental development.

However, the candidates in Haiti’s most recent election represent a break from the past, a change that Haiti hasn’t seen in more than 27 years, Fauriol said. With a focus on the future, the candidates pledged reconstruction, reform and development.

In addition to Global Perspectives Office, sponsors and partners included UCF Task Force H.O.P.E.; the UCF Haitian Studies Project; the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program; the UCF Political Science Department; the UCF Diplomacy Program; the UCF Latin American, Caribbean and Latino Studies Program; The Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship Program; the UCF International Services Center; UCF LIFE; the Orlando Rotary Club; and the Global Connections Foundation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ARTICLE - CLIMATE CHANGE AND EARTHQUAKES

CLIMATE CHANGE AND QUAKES: A LINK?
(Montreal Gazette) - By Wiliam Marsden

Earth's 'elastic' crust at issue; Melting glaciers may be lightening load, allowing tectonic plates to shift

MONTREAL - Severe earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and most recently Japan have raised the question of whether the world's tectonic plates are becoming more active and if so what is the cause.

Some scientists theorize that the sudden melting of glaciers due to man-made climate change is lightening the load on the Earth, allowing its mantle to rebound upward, causing the plates to become unstuck.

These scientists point to the historical increase in volcanic and earthquake activity that occurred about 12,000 years ago, when the glaciers that covered most of Canada in an ice sheet several kilometres thick suddenly melted.

The result was that most of Canada's crust has lifted and is still rising.

Scientists have discovered that the accelerated melting of the Greenland ice sheet over the last 10 years is already lifting the southeastern part of that island several millimetres every year.

The surface of the Earth is elastic. A heavy load like a glacier will cause it to sink, pushing aside the liquid rock underneath.

The Greenland glacier is about three kilometres at its thickest and it is believed that its weight has depressed sections of the land under the glacier about one kilometre. In fact, the weight of the glacier is so great that significant portions of Greenland have been pushed well below sea level.

"There is certainly some literature that talks about the increased occurrence of volcanic eruptions and the removing of load from the crust by deglaciation," said Martin Sharp, a glaciologist at the University of Alberta. "It changes the stress load in the crust and maybe it opens up routes for lava to come to the surface."

Sharp added that "it is conceivable that there would be some increase in earthquake activity during periods of rapid changes on the Earth's crust."

Other scientists, however, believe that the kind of tectonic movements similar to the one that last week caused the Japanese quake are too deep in the Earth to be affected by the pressure releases caused by glacier melt.

These scientists theorize, however, that glacier melts could cause shallower quakes.

Andrew Hynes, a tectonics expert at McGill University, said the issue is not so much the load shift on the Earth's crust, but rather the increased fluid pressure in the fault that lubricates the rock, allowing the plate to slide.

"All earthquakes except those produced by volcanic activity are essentially the unsticking of faults," he said.

In other words, if you pump fluid into a fault, it will reduce the friction and the rock can slide.

Could the stress transfers and the added melt from glaciers inject more fluid into the rocks creating earthquakes?

Hynes said this is a serious issue with large hydro reservoirs, where increased amounts of water into otherwise stable faults can cause them to move.

"It would only apply to earthquakes that are at shallow depths," he said. "But I wouldn't push it any further than that."

He added, however, that the decompression from melting glaciers could cause an increase in volcanism by releasing the liquid rock and its explosive potential.

Yet, at the same time, the number and severity of earthquakes appears to have increased over the last 30 years in parallel to accelerating glacial melt.

Some experts claim the increase can be explained by increased number of seismograph stations to more than 8,000, from 350 in 1931, allowing scientists to pinpoint earthquakes that would otherwise have been missed.

But this does not explain the recent increase in major earthquakes, which are defined as above 6 on the Richter magnitude scale. (Japan's earthquake was a 9.) Scientists have been tracking these powerful quakes for well over a century and it's unlikely that they have missed any during at least the last 60 years.

According to data from the United States Geological Survey, there were 1,085 major earthquakes in the 1980s. This increased in the 1990s to 1,492 and to 1,611 from 2000 to 2009. Last year - and up to and including the Japanese quake - there were 247 major earthquakes, which puts us on a path to yet another increase.

There has also been a noticeable increase in the sort of extreme quakes that hit Japan. In the 1980s, there were four mega-quakes, six in the 1990s and 13 in the last decade. So far this decade, we have had two.

This increase, however, could be temporary. Hynes said there is some evidence that one earthquake can snowball into another until the earth's crust has adjusted to the new pressure transfers.

The coast of British Columbia sits on the Pacific fault line that curves around the southern coast of Alaska, travelling southwest to Japan.

Hynes said the upper plate of Vancouver Island is flexing like a bow. It's stuck and bending upward. Ultimately it will release itself and produce a major quake, he predicted. Japan's big earthquake could change the tectonic stresses in the Pacific and possibly affect Vancouver.

"I'm afraid to say that Canada is by no means as careful about its building codes as Japan," Hynes said.

Montreal sits on a fault line that travels along the St. Lawrence River Valley. Hynes said the fault is smack in the middle of a tectonic place, making it harder to understand the stresses.