Wednesday, April 27, 2011

VIDEO - BACK IN HAITI

I arrived back in Haiti this afternoon after one week visiting my family in Canada. It sure is a lot warmer here in Haiti! It was nice to enjoy some cooler Canadian temperatures. It is Stanley Cup hockey playoffs right now and I was able to watch some of the games on television. I try to get the people here in Haiti enthused about hockey playoffs and they just don't get how exciting it is. The Vancouver Canucks won in overtime last night and move on to the next round. The Montreal Canadians play a seventh game tomorrow night and hopefully they will win too. I am hoping that the Stanley Cup champion will be a Canadian team.
When I asked Manu and the other children how things went at the house and they said good. There was only some discussions on the Barcelona - Real Madrid soccer game.

To see a difference in enthusiasm for Canadian hockey and rest of the world soccer watch the next couple of videos. I'll start getting caught up on some things over the next week on the blog. It's great to be back here in Haiti!

1. THE HOCKEY SONG BY MR. ED - VANCOUVER CANUCKS



2. THE SOCCER SONG - WAKA WAKA -

Sunday, April 24, 2011

VIDEO - HE REIGNS

Hi! Things have been quiet for a few days. On Wednesday I traveled to Canada to visit my family for a week. They celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary and a dinner was held on Saturday. May the Lord continue to bless them in the years ahead. It was great too to be able to celebrate Easter with my family as well. We rejoice that He has risen and that He reigns! In God's time Jesus will one day return and fix up this world! Newsboys have a song called "He Reigns". To listen to the video follow the link to:

He Reigns - Newsboys

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

VIDEO - PARTNERS IN HEALTH - 60 MINUTES INT.

ARTICLE - NEW MIREBALAIS HOSPITAL



NICHOLAS CLARK ARCHITECTS DESIGNS HOSPITAL FOR HAITI
(Architectural Record) - By Tom Sawyer

Work is well under way on the 320-bed facility being constructed by Partners in Health, a Boston-based nonprofit group.

Constructing any major hospital is a challenge, but building a 320-bed state-of-the-art teaching hospital for $16 million in the highlands of Haiti is fraught with difficulties.

Yet the aid group Partners in Health (PIH) is doing just that, using funds that come not from the government or the United Nations but from donations collected by the Boston-based group, which has worked for 23 years to boost the capacity of Haiti’s public health sector. The materials, services and cash contributions are coming from private companies and organizations, especially from companies in the U.S. construction sector.

The hospital, which will have six operating rooms, is rising in Mirebalais, 35 miles north of Port-au-Prince. “This is one of the first major public-sector projects to start in Haiti since the earthquake,” says Jim Ansara, PIH’s director of construction on the project. Founding Shawmut Design and Construction, based in Boston, in 1982, Ansara sold the business to its employees in 2006. While he still serves as Shawmut’s chairman, his main job these days is pushing the Haiti project. “I go down every week,” he says.

This is not new territory for PIH. Prior to the quake, the organization was co-operating 12 facilities with the Haitian Ministry of Health. But the Mirebalais hospital is its biggest project yet and requires construction of a safe, sustainable, high-tech facility in rural Haiti, where materials are scarce and workers are untrained in sophisticated construction. “The first day we started to lay block,” Ansara says, “we had 1,500 to 1,800 men line up to see if they could get jobs.” Thirty were hired. “We have people who are really good at stone, masonry and tile,” he says, but not so skilled in electrical systems, control wiring, acoustical ceilings and millwork. “We are desperately trying to gather volunteers willing to go to Haiti and work for a week.”

Planning for the project predates the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that killed an estimated 220,000 people and flattened much of Port-au-Prince. Originally, PIH aimed to build a 108-bed regional hospital. But the quake destroyed Haiti’s main teaching hospital in Port-au-Prince, killing an entire 150-student nursing class, so at the request of the ministry, PIH scaled up plans for the Mirebalais facility. The design was donated by Nicholas Clark Architects, Chicago.

Construction of the 180,000-sq-ft teaching hospital for all of Haiti began in July. Plans call for it to be operational by Jan. 12, 2012. Despite challenging conditions, including a refugee crisis and a raging cholera outbreak that began in a camp a mile away, work is well under way. “We are about to pour our first big roof slab, which is a milestone,” said Ansara in early April. “It is a complicated slab—complicated reinforcing for what is normally done on the island. We are very particular about connections between beams and columns, which is really important seismically,”

Even with the oversight of a fairly well-trained general contractor and engineers brought in from the Dominican Republic, it is a challenge to create reinforcing plans that can be executed by untrained workers, says John Looney, principal of JML Engineering, Winchester, Mass., the structural engineer. “The labor pool in Haiti is extremely unskilled,” he says. Designs for roof slabs, such as the one about to be poured, need to be straightforward so that they can be applied to all situations. While a more complex solution may require less rebar, it is more prone to error.

Looney says the hospital’s 24-ft to 28-ft spans and load-bearing walls are unlike the 10-ft by 10-ft unreinforced modules that typically are found in Haiti. “Imagine a table with four legs on it … a building that is a concrete slab with ring beams around it and four columns. For a larger building they add more modules. To go taller, they stack them up,” Looney says.

New techniques have to be learned. In a country where even large concrete pours are hand-mixed by big crews filling and passing along buckets, the proper use of a concrete mixer became a priority. At first, Looney says, they were getting very low strength because of poor mixing. “Instead of getting 3,000 psi concrete, we were lucky to get 1,000,” he says.

Workers also had to improve their block-laying skills. “It didn’t seem to bother them that joints are 3/8 inches thick in some places and up to three inches in others,” Looney says. Now, not only is the block work better, but the walls also are vertically reinforced with rebar, bonded to columns and grouted internally to serve as bearing walls and resist lateral loads. “The idea is to train the locals in a different type of construction than they are used to and to use as little material as we could,” Looney says. “It’s been a steep learning curve.”

But Ansara says it is working. “After we show the Haitians what’s expected, they get it,” he says, although he admits some of the workers think the project team is “overbuilding and too fussy.”

“We’ve had incredible participation from the American building industry,” Ansara adds. Thirty companies are on the donor list, including Hubbell Inc., Shelton, Conn., which supplied lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, boxes, plugs and switches, and the New England Council of Carpenters, which refurbished 400 salvaged wooden doors. To see a full list, as well as more on the project and a slide show, visit ENR.com.

Construction Contributions
COMPANY MATERIAL / SERVICES DONATED
Bullfinch Boston Realty, Inc. Wooden doors
Contract Flooring Donation of flooring expertise, industry contacts, and all seamless flooring installations
Dal Tile Corporation 40,000 SF of white wall tile
Design Fabricators Cabinets, oak table tops, P-Lam counters, used and odd-lot material
Dymin Steel, Inc. Misc. metal: angle, tube steel, etc.
GE (General Electric Company) Foundation Medical equipment. See tab "GE Donations List"
Hubbell Incorporated All light fixtures/ceiling fans for the project and all electrical devices (boxes, plugs, switches etc..)
John Penney Construction Company All electrical engineering and purchasing
J.C. Cannistraro, LLC Medical gas and pumbing fixtures, HVAC, and mechanical engineering
Kamco Supply Corp Purchase of discounted ACT Grid
Liberty Panel Center 96 hard hats, 216 safety goggles
Lumalier Corporation 5 UV light fixtures
M. Cohen & Sons Fabrication of metal panels donated and discounted rate purchase for metal materials
Mark Richey Woodworking and Design Procurement, fabrication, and installation of millwork scope
New England Council of Carpenters Donation of carpenters' time to refurbish salvaged wood doors
Nicholas Clark Architects LTD Full design of Mirebalais Hospital
Operation Blessing International Materials and installation of primary water well and potable water pressure tank
Red Star Construction Company, LLC. Carpentry and millwork installations
RG Mearns CO Inc. 200 clear safety glasses and 200 pairs of gloves for one site Haitian workers
Severn Trent Services Water filtration system and chlorine generator
Shawmut Design and Construction Staff time, computers, equipment and office space
Southwire Purchasing help and consulting
Spectrum Sign Company 2 banners, 4 signs
St. Cecilia Parish Salvaged benches for waiting rooms
Stanley Black & Decker Door, interior hardware and small tools
URS Corporation Landscape design
USG Corporation Donation of 80,000 SF of ACT and discounted purchase of additional 27,000 SF of ACT
Thomas & Betts Electrical Materials: plastic and metal boxes, connectors of all types, non-metallic flexible raceway (ENT), superstrut (unistrut) for both electrical and medical gas, grounding rods, and lightning protection. Possibly also surge protectors
Timberland Construction boots for workers
Trinity Buidling and Construction Management Company Salvaged doors and hardware
Windover Construction, LLC Project management staffing

ARTICLE - MALARIA IN DOMINCAN REPUBLIC

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC CONCERNED ABOUT INCREASE IN MALARIA DEATHS
(AP) -

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Dominican health authorities launched an education campaign Tuesday to fight an increase in malaria deaths.

At least six people have died so far this year and an additional 500 cases have been reported, the majority of them in the Caribbean country's southern region, Health Minister Bautista Rojas said. A total of four malaria deaths were recorded in all of 2010.

Malaria is spread by infected mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water, and causes flu-like symptoms that can lead to death.

Some 100,000 health workers and volunteers are visiting impoverished communities around the capital of Santo Domingo this week to distribute pamphlets on how to prevent malaria and other diseases that are more common during the rainy season.

The country also is dealing with an outbreak of cholera, which has infected nearly 700 people and caused seven deaths. A cholera epidemic in neighboring Haiti has killed more than 4,000 people since October.

ARTICLE - UNICEF - MALNUTRITION IN HAITI'S CAMPS

FIGHTING MALNUTRITION AND BUILDING CAPACITY FOR CHILD HEALTH IN HAITI'S CAMPS
(UNICEF) - By Benjamin Steinlechner

PORT-AU-PRINCE – Thanks to UNICEF and its partners, many mothers in Port-au-Prince are now more aware of the dangers even mild malnutrition in early childhood poses to the mental and physical well-being and development of their children.

In Haiti, malnutrition is a major threat to child health. As many as 300,000 Haitian children suffer from chronic malnutrition, and up to half of child deaths in the country are caused by malnutrition.

The non-governmental organization UNASCAD (Union des Amis Socio-Culturels d’Action en Development) is active in sensitizing the community to these issues. The group is one of UNICEF’s most viable local partners in promoting a wholesome diet to some of Haiti’s most vulnerable families still living in camps as a result of the January 2010 earthquake.

Safe havens for mothers and children
“Only half a year ago, we knew almost nothing about malnutrition,” says UNASCAD manager Severe Joseph. “Today, we are educating and helping around 2,000 women in our five baby tents in Port-au-Prince.”

The ‘baby-tents’ are safe havens for women in the camps – places where they meet other mothers or pregnant women, exchange experiences and get professional advice from nurses. UNASCAD’s tent in the Caradeux displacement camp, close to the Port-au-Prince airport, bustles with pregnant women, young mothers and children from the camp’s vast population

“I come here at least twice every week,” says Yfolene Louis, 30, a mother of three. “I attended training sessions where they told me what to eat during pregnancy. I also learned that it’s necessary to exclusively breastfeed my child until six month of age to prevent diseases. I didn’t know that when my other children were babies.”

Promoting health and equity
Building the capacity of local NGOs and government agencies is a focus of UNICEF Haiti’s activities in 2011. It represents the most powerful tool for creating equitable access to health-care services and sustainable change.

“Capacity-building is a long process, but it’s encouraging to see improvements in the programme resulting from our support and collaboration,” says UNICEF Nutrition Specialist Leslie Koo.

Ms. Koo adds that one of UNICEF’s most important jobs is to help build the technical expertise of its partners. “We have to make sure the right information comes across in training sessions for mothers and mothers-to-be, and that this information is spread to as many people as possible,” she says.

Having collaborated closely with UNICEF through the different stages of its build-up, UNASCAD is now almost completely self-sufficient.

“Our NGO was also active before the earthquake but mostly involved with HIV/AIDS. I don’t think we ever achieved this much in such a little time,” says Mr. Joseph. “UNICEF doesn’t just give us money. They also support us with managerial advice.”

Therapeutic feeding
While word has spread in the Caradeux camp about the baby tent and the services it provides, there are still some mothers with severely malnourished children who are unaware that their children’s weakened state is directly connected to poor nutrition practices.

Eighteen-month-old Cherline Noel, with her weak legs and sunken eyes, is a stark example of the effects of severe malnutrition.

“We just met Roslande Noel, Cherline’s mother, outside when visiting another mother in her tent,” recalls Mr. Joseph. “We are experienced enough now to immediately recognize severely malnourished children, and Cherline definitely is one of them.”

Cherline will be referred to a treatment centre for acute malnutrition, where she will continue to receive therapeutic feeding.

“Our work doesn’t stop at this tent,” says Mr. Joseph “Every day, we receive women who have heard about us from their friends or neighbours. They want to know if they are taking care of their children the right way and how they could do better.”

ARTICLE - NEW MALNUTRITION CENTERS

NEW PREMISES TO FIGHT AGAINST MALNUTRITION
(HaitiLibre) -

Like many other buildings of the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH), that of the paediatric service of the hospital was not spared by the January 2010 earthquake and the Nutritional Stabilization Unit (USN), a unit of the Service, which handles the management of children with severe acute malnutrition, was found devoid of premises.

"UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) had to accommodate the USN under tents to ensure the continuity of services for malnourished children," explains Marie-Claude Desilets, Nutrition Specialist of UNICEF. But the tents, exposed to the weather, began to be worn. That is why UNICEF has decided to award an amount of 58,000 dollars for the construction of a semi-permanent structure that will be attached to the pediatrics premises. The USN has treated 319 children suffering from severe malnutrition, which represents about 22% of cases handled in 2010 for the whole country. And according to information provided by Mr. Mbakwa, Health and Nutrition Coordinator for Concern Worldwide Haiti, "from January to March 2011, 56 malnourished children were treated at the USN". Children may remain from 7 to 10 days, sometimes up to 15 days in USN, said Marie-Claude Désilets.

The new building will be equipped with two rooms. The largest will host twenty cradles [double the current capacity] as well as beds for parents. The second, smaller, serve as a playground for children. Also, this new structure will be equipped with toilets. The construction of the new premises of the USN was launched Thursday, March 24, 2011 and and work should be completed within one month. This project is implemented by the NGO Concern Worldwide, which, thanks to funding provided by UNICEF, put also available to the USN, eight members of its nursing staff. The international NGO also provides training for all medical personnel. This latest initiative is part of capacity building of the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP).

Learn more :
UNICEF is working with Concern Worldwide Haiti in support of malnourished children in several other hospitals of the capital such as the Hospital La Paix on Delmas 33, the Hospital Eléazar Germain in Pétion-Ville, the Hospital Saint Damien in Tabarre, the Hospital des Petits Frères et Sœurs, the Health Center of Martissant, the Health Center of Bizoton and that of Delmas 75. According to Marie-Claude Désilets, UNICEF is currently studying the possibility of providing support to the MSPP for the establishment of Nutritional Stabilization Units in 10 departments.

ARTICLE - CORNELL - GHESKIO REBUILDS CLINIC

CORNELL CLINIC IN HAITI REBUILDS FROM RUBBLE
(Cornell Daily Sun) - By Tajwar Mazhar

Although much work remains, Cornell’s GHESKIO clinic in Haiti has rebuilt most of its buildings that were destroyed by the earthquake in January 2010, according to Dr. Daniel Fitzgerald, co-director of the Center for Global Health, a division of Weill Cornell Medical Center that works with GHESKIO.

Burdened by the death of four of the clinic’s staff members and the destruction of 70 percent of its buildings, GHESKIO also had to treat more patients than normal due to the devastation caused by the earthquake, said Dr. Vanessa Rouzier, head of pediatrics at the clinic.

“Initially after the earthquake, we spent the first two months seeing patients in the yard, but now, logistics are much better,” Rouzier said. “The earthquake has required GHESKIO to go beyond their previous mission, but we haven’t withdrawn HIV/TB care ... We have opened up to new categories and more community services.”

The clinic, which collaborates with WCMC, was established in 1982 as the first institution worldwide fighting HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. In addition to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis treatment, GHESKIO provides counseling for the families of those infected with these diseases, according to Fitzgerald.

Located in Port-au-Prince, the clinic has continued its free medical aid and expanded services and outreach to the local community since the earthquake, Fitzgerald said.

Not only has GHESKIO hired unemployed Haitians staying in the organization’s refugee camp to complete reconstruction on its buildings — of which they have rebuilt at least eight — but it has also started vocational education classes to help prepare adults in the community for employment, according to Fitzgerald.

GHESKIO has also had to cope with the resurgence of cholera in the country. In October 2010, Haiti saw its first case of cholera in decades, and as of January, there have been more than 4,000 deaths and 250,000 cases, according to Fitzgerald.

“Cholera had not been reported for 50 years. So, if a new disease is introduced, it is very dangerous. No one had immunity. [They are] very, very highly susceptible,” Fitzgerald said.

Although the clinic saw a slight decline in cholera cases last month, Fitzgerald said that the communicable disease will spread through water contamination in the upcoming rainy seasons.

Apart from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, GHESKIO provides clean drinking water and sanitation to more than 100,000 people in its surrounding area, Fitzgerald said.

In the wake of the earthquake, the clinic has concentrated on establishing greater community outreach — an effort that was “very different before the earthquake,” according to Elizabeth Fox, GHESKIO nutrition training coordinator, who arrived in Haiti days before the earthquake.

One of these outreach programs is a program that provides nutritional guidance to new mothers, some of whom have HIV positive children, according to Fox.

“Starting in summer of 2007, we began laying the groundwork for an infant and child feeding intervention among HIV-exposed children of HIV-infected moms. ... The intervention was successful, reduced risk of malnutrition at 12 months, so we took that basic strategy and scaled it up to all zero- to two-year-olds at the clinic,” said Rebecca Heidkamp grad, who began her dissertation research in GHESKIO.

Following the earthquake, GHESKIO extended the program to include more of the affected population, according to Heidkamp.

“Now we have more than doubled our capacity, irrespective of HIV status,” Rouzier said.

Before the earthquake, GHESKIO had limited interaction with Haitians who lived across the street in an impoverished neighborhood, known as “City of God,” according to Fitzgerald.

Many community members moved into GHESKIO’s compound following the earthquake, providing the opportunity for GHESKIO to collaborate with people from “City of God,” Fox said.

GHESKIO has recently opened an elementary school to make free education available to the refugee camp local community, according to Fox.

“There is a great energy in the compound with kids coming in their uniforms,” Fox said.

Haiti has a law preventing older children without prior education from attending public schools. GHESKIO is offering evening classes for these students, according to Fox.

“This has been a really inspirational experience,” Fox said. The Haitians “are working for and with their people. It’s a refreshing place to be.”

Numerous organizations, ranging from the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to MAC Aids Foundation, have donated money GHESKIO. GHESKIO has also received thousands of dollars from the Cornell community, Fitzgerald said.

“Cornell has been great to collaborate with,” Rouzier said. “It would be difficult to come out of the rubble without help from abroad. … We really are grateful.”

The organization received funding to develop two long-term initiatives: the creation of an inpatient hospital for tuberculosis patients and the opening of a new nutrition center, according to Fitzgerald.

GHESKIO created the inpatient hospital in response to the increasing population of Haitians suffering from drug-resistant strands of tuberculosis. The reported number of cases of tuberculosis, a disease which is transferred through the air, has doubled over the past year, Fitzgerald said.

The maternal care center will provide growth monitoring and long-term care to the surrounding population of Port-au-Prince, Fitzgerald said.

“The socioeconomic aspects still remain difficult,” Rouzier said. "Children are not growing or thriving as well as we would like. We have a lot of our families still living in tents,” Rouzier said.

ARTICLE - MARTELLY TO MEET CLINTON IN USA

HAITI PRESIDENT-ELECT TO MEET CLINTON ON US VISIT
(AFP) -

WASHINGTON — Haiti's president-elect Michel Martelly will meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, setting the tone of a key relationship for America's poorest neighbor.

The former entertainer, who assumes office on May 14 providing his poll victory is confirmed, will also meet the heads of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, according to Martelly's office.

Martelly faces the daunting task of rebuilding the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, which is struggling to recover from a January 2010 earthquake that killed more than 225,000 people and left the capital in ruins.

More than 750,000 people are still homeless and an ongoing cholera epidemic has killed more than 4,750 people since mid-October.

The 50-year-old former carnival singer, popularly known as "Sweet Micky," defeated former first lady Mirlande Manigat in a March 20 run-off after a months-long electoral process marked by violence and allegations of fraud.

The meeting with Clinton will reaffirm the "United States' continued commitment to Haiti's reconstruction and economic development," said acting US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner in a statement.

Martelly has said that in his first six months as president he will focus on moving people out of tents, the cholera epidemic and boosting the country's agricultural production.

Preliminary presidential results published April 4 showed Martelly received 67.57 percent of the March 20 run-off vote against former first lady Mirlande Manigat, who finished with 31.74 percent. Official results are set to be released Wednesday, while Martelly is in the United States.

Monday, April 18, 2011

VIDEO - PRAY



Haiti is a country that is over faults and where an earthquake can happen at any time. It is also in "Hurricane Alley". Every year there is hurricane season and everyone watches the satellite info to see where the major storms will run. Haiti is in the midst of a cholera epidemic as well. There is one thing that is a guarantee though and that is that God hears our prayers. By His grace we endure the "changes of the seasons and times". The above music video is from Justin Bieber and it is called Pray. I showed it to the people here at Coram Deo. They are Justin Bieber fans and like his music. Enjoy!

ARTICLE - EARTHQUAKE - MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE

EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI HELPS DOCTORS FIGURE OUT WAYS TO TREAT VICTIMS OF CRUSH SYNDROME
(Los Angeles Times) - By Karen Kaplan

Natural disasters – such as the earthquake and tsunami in Japan – are horrible events any way you slice them. But sometimes there’s a small silver lining: The medical personnel who respond to these emergencies often learn valuable lessons that they can pass along to others who may tend to the victims of future disasters.

This week, a team of doctors from the Israeli Defense Forces Medical Corps shared some of what they learned about crush syndrome after treating 126 patients who suffered from it as a result of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

In crush syndrome, an injury to a single part of the body can cause problems elsewhere in the body because damaged muscles release toxic chemicals and electrolytes into the blood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s primer on crush syndrome, it “can cause local tissue injury, organ dysfunction, and metabolic abnormalities, including acidosis, hyperkalemia, and hypocalcemia.”

The CDC also notes that 2% to 15% of people who experience earthquakes causing “major structural damage” wind up with crush syndrome, and that half of them develop acute renal failure. (Californians, they’re talking to you.)

The Israeli doctors set up a field hospital in Haiti within 89 hours of the magnitude 7.0 quake. They treated a total of 1,111 patients there; 11% of them suffered from some degree of crush syndrome.

The report, published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, focuses on the eight patients who were treated for crush syndrome in the first three days after the field hospital opened. The statistics are rather grim:

The patients had been trapped beneath rubble for an average of 31 hours (one patient was buried for three whole days).

All eight patients developed acute renal failure.

Four of the patients had been crushed in the chest or abdomen, and “most” had “limb involvement.” Only two of the patients recovered.

Comparing the survivors with those who didn’t make it, the doctors flagged some clinical characteristics that were associated with poor outcomes. Among them:

Being trapped under rubble for a long period of time.

Sustaining an injury to the chest.

Development of compartment syndrome, a complication in which swelling builds up pressure that prevents blood flow to a muscle, causing permanent damage that may require amputation.

Passing very little or no urine.

The Israeli doctors noted that the odds of surviving acute renal failure due to a crush injury improve dramatically when patients can get their blood filtered through dialysis. In Haiti, this treatment was not available until the U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort arrived 10 days after the earthquake.

An introduction to the report, "Crush Syndrome: Saving More Lives in Disasters," is available online here. (The full study is behind a paywall.)

ARTICLE - UN PRESS CONFERENCE - EARTHQUAKE RISK

PRESS CONFERENCE BY UNITED NAITONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME ON HAITI'S ERTHQUAKE RISK REDUCTION PLANS
(UN) - April 18, 2011

In the wake of the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, the international scientific community had made considerable advances in understanding and mitigating earthquake risks and a major push was under way to integrate those technologies into Haiti’s reconstruction plans at all levels, said a senior scientist with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at a Headquarters press conference today.

“It often takes a disaster to make major technical strides,” said Eric Calais, a seismologist and senior science adviser with UNDP. Following the Haiti quake, he said, a call for stronger predictive technologies had led to a series of cutting-edge innovations.

For the first time ever, scientists had been able to determine which areas of a country were most susceptible to ground shaking during an earthquake — a major step towards planning and building safer cities. Using that technology, a seismic map of Haiti had been created jointly by UNDP, the Haitian Government, the University of Texas and other international partners, he said, and had been handed off to the Haitian authorities earlier this year.

“It’s really a milestone,” said Mr. Calais, noting that, if properly implemented, Haiti would be able to rebuild a much more quake-resistant capital. As the reconstruction continued, UNDP was working with Haiti’s Ministry of Planning and Public Works to integrate the technology into building plans. Moreover, Haiti — which had long been one of the only countries that lacked its own seismic monitoring system — was now building such a system and learning to maintain it. Mr. Calais said that the goal was to build a “corps of competent Haitian professionals, who can become advocates of risk reduction in their own country”. Haitian universities were also integrating earthquake safety into their curricula, he added.

Mr. Calais, a professor in geophysics at Purdue University who has been working in the Caribbean since 1989, said that last year’s tragic quake “did not come as a surprise” to the scientific community. Much of the Caribbean was susceptible to earthquakes, and Haiti — along with the entire island of Hispaniola — was especially vulnerable, as it sat directly on a seismic plate boundary. Preparedness was often lacking in the region. In the neighbouring Dominican Republic, in particular, the Haitian earthquake had been “a wakeup call” for better risk-reduction plans; its Government was now taking the necessary steps in that direction.

While it was a certainty that more earthquakes would occur throughout the region in the future, added Mr. Calais, “the good news is that we now know what to do about it”. The implementation of appropriate risk reduction plans, including construction aided by the new ground mapping technology, could drastically minimize the effects of future quakes, he said.

In that vein, he responded to a question comparing the effects of Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude quake with Japan’s much larger 9.0-magnitude quake several weeks ago. He said that, had Haiti been as prepared for an earthquake as Japan, the number of casualties could have been reduced from 200,000 to “in the tens” of thousands.

With regard to the pace of Haiti’s reconstruction effort, which had often been criticized in the months following the earthquake, Mr. Calais stressed that Haiti had the lowest human development index in the Western hemisphere — a fact that had contributed both to its lack of preparedness and to its slow recovery. “We have to remember that we are working in the context of the most devastating event that a country has ever experienced, in terms of percentage of the population affected,” he said. In addition, the earthquake had struck at the start of Haiti’s 2010 hurricane season. The country had later been faced with both a cholera epidemic and the pressure of national elections, he noted.

Despite those challenges, Mr. Calais said, Haiti’s Government had been proactive in its efforts to mitigate future disasters. Its work with the scientific community to integrate risk reduction strategies marked a transition “from reaction to action”, he said, expressing his hope that the newly elected Government would continue to recognize the importance of those efforts. He also called on the international community to step up its efforts to help Haiti to move forward.

One correspondent asked about ways to ensure that non-governmental organizations in Haiti — many of which were rebuilding or rehabilitating neighbourhoods without significant Government oversight — were using proper risk reduction techniques. In response, Mr. Calais said that, while no formal mechanism had been created to handle non-governmental organizations, there were now guidelines in place to direct those organizations “through formal Government channels”. Meanwhile, it was important to “reinvigorate” those channels and ensure that they were steering builders in the right direction.

ARTICLE - EARTHQUAKE RISK REDUCTION

RISK REDUCTION CRITICAL AS HAITI REMAINS PRONE TO "SEVERE EARTHQUAKE SHAKING," UN SEISMOLOGIST SAYS
(iStock Analyst) - By Xinhua

UNITED NATIONS -- With Haiti "susceptible to severe earthquake shaking" in the future, a UN Development Program (UNDP) seismologist on Monday said that risk reduction is critical for the Caribbean nation so that the country can be better equipped for the next possible strike.

There is a "major gap" with risk reduction in Haiti, which remains a challenge for the future, Eric Calais told reporters here at a press conference.

He said that mitigation measures are needed so the devastation caused by future events will be "as small as possible."

"Risk reduction for natural hazard is key to efficient and sustainable development," he said. "When the next earthquake hits Haiti, we have to make sure that the country is prepared -- Haiti cannot afford to be as unprepared as it was Jan. 12, 2010."

This is the goal for Port-au-Prince and for Haiti in general since the region is "susceptible to severe earthquake shaking in the future," he said, adding that earthquake risk reduction is part of the reconstruction of the country.

"Earthquakes are much more insidious than floods and hurricanes, as the Earth can remain silenced for decades and suddenly unleash vast amounts of energy without prior warning," Calais warned.

The Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake destroyed 100 percent of Haiti's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and in combination with the impact of seven hurricanes between 2004 and 2008, which cost Haiti 25 percent of its GDP, it translated into "major setbacks for development and for establishing an economically independent state, " he noted.

At a time of crisis, Calais said that the "flurry of information" made the issue harder to face, which made clear in the following months that "specific efforts had to be dedicated to ensuring that earthquake risk reduction would be accounted for in every aspect of the recovery and reconstruction of the country."

"This is probably the only country on the planet that is sitting on the plate boundary and does not have any means of monitoring what the ground is doing under their feet and this is changing and it's a breakthrough," Calais said, noting that Haiti is in the process of obtaining and operating its own seismic monitoring network.

He highlighted an essential map that UNDP has developed, which determines what zones are most susceptible to seismic shaking. The Haitian government, private sector and residents will also use the tool to build back more resilient structures, which will vary depending on ground stability levels in each zone.

Initiatives are also currently underway to mitigate risk, Calais said, citing UNDP's new plan which aims to reduce vulnerability to seismic threats by improving the resilience of infrastructure and reducing risks for Haitians in poor housing.

Awareness programs to inform Haitians of critical actions that could minimize the impact are also being initiated, he said.

UNDP, in collaboration with local governments, are training Haitian architects and engineers in specific techniques in construction for earthquake-resistant structures, Calais added.

ARTICLE - UN GEOPHYSICIST - EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS

UN GEOPHYSICIST SAYS HAITI WOULD'VE HAD FEW QUAKE DEATHS IF AS PREPARED AS JAPAN
(CP) - By Anita Snow, AP

Far fewer people likely would have died in last year's earthquake in Haiti had the Caribbean nation been as well prepared as Japan, a geophysicist working with the U.N. said Monday.

Eric Calais, a Perdue University geophysicist advising the United Nations Development Program in Haiti on ways to reduce risks associated with future quakes, told a news conference that the death toll could have been as small as a few dozen people.

Instead, the Haitian government estimates 316,000 died in the 7-magnitude quake that struck the Caribbean nation in January 2010. Japan says its far more powerful 9-magnitude quake and tsunami on March 11 left more than 27,000 people dead or missing.

"Unfortunately, it often takes a disaster to learn how to deal with a disaster," Calais said. He said because of the Asian country's more robust construction "there was little damage structure in Japan caused by the shaking."

Calais, who has studied quakes in Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean for two decades, said he's working with the government there to develop its first ever seismic monitoring system — something that most countries in quake-prone areas already have — to be run by a team of trained Haitian professionals.

Calais said new sets of maps are being devised to show the soil weaknesses in the capital of Port-au-Prince and other areas that can be used as guides for future construction. Sturdier construction on solid ground could also protect lives in Haiti's other common natural disasters — floods and hurricanes, he said.

"Port-au-Prince has the opportunity to rebuild in a way that is economically viable, but won't collapse as it did in the last earthquake," said Calais. "We would be fools not to use the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti to build a more resilient country."

ARTICLE - HAITI'S SHAKY FUTURE

HAITI'S SHAKY FUTURE: REDUCING EARTHQUAKE
(Our Amazing Planet)- By Brett Israel

When the Haiti earthquake struck on Jan. 12, 2010 — one year ago today — the country had only one seismometer, and it wasn't even functioning properly.

To better prepare the country for a future disaster, scientists are hard at work to try to answer the big remaining questions about the devastating magnitude-7.0 temblor. Today, a clearer picture of how it ruptured has come into focus. Yet scientists say there is still plenty of strain in the region's fault system, and there is still much to learn about how the earth is moving under Haiti.

"The goal is to come up with a better assessment of the hazard for the whole country," said Eric Calais, a geophysicist at Purdue University. "One of the key ingredients is to know where the potential sources for the earthquakes are."

Fault geometry
The Haiti quake killed more than 200,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless. The damage was estimated at about $8 billion, according to Munich Re, the world's largest insurer.

When the quake struck, the well-known Enriquillo fault took the blame, but scientists now know that about 85 percent of the energy from the earthquake came from a previously unknown fault, now called the Léogâne fault.

Scientists are piecing together what this fault looks like, said Gavin Hayes, a geophysicist with the USGS in Golden, Colo. Hayes worked with one of the research teams that modeled how the faults might have ruptured during the quake.

But scientists can't simply go look at the ground at the epicenter. The Léogâne fault is what's called a blind fault, meaning it doesn't rupture the surface.

"No one has ever touched the Léogâne fault, and you can't," Calais said.

Which is why scientists are conducting aftershock studies to solve this blind fault's geometry, Hayes said.

Reducing risk
Scientists aren't sure exactly how dangerous the Léogâne fault is, or whether it's part of an entire fault system that has gone undetected.

"It's quite likely that there are many faults that we don't know about, and until we look for them we won't," Calais told OurAmazingPlanet. "It's very important to put in place a project in Haiti to go after every fault capable of generating an earthquake."

Scientists think several faults slipped during Haiti's earthquake, and they are working to learn how much each one moved. Several models have been proposed, but until geologists know which is correct, they can't make the most accurate assessment of the remaining seismic hazard.

"The devil is in the details," Calais said.

Watchful eye
Before the quake struck Haiti, the country's lone seismometer was in a high school, used as a teaching aide. Now there are about 10 seismic stations that will remain in Haiti permanently, Calais said.

Geologists in Haiti, Calais included, are trying to train a generation of Haitian seismologists, of which there are currently none. It's these people that will be the future advocates of seismic risk reduction in Haiti, Calais said.

"If we want risk reduction, the effort must be made to train seismologists and earthquake engineers in Haiti," Calais said. "A seismic network is a great way to do that."

ARTICLE - NATURAL DISASTERS - BROOKINGS REPORT

2010: A REALLY BAD YEAR FOR NATURAL DISASTERS
(UN Dispatch) - By Mark Leon Goldberg

If you ever find yourself thinking that there seemed to be a lot of natural disasters last year, you’d be correct. The Japan earthquake and tsunami has rightly dominated the headlines recently, but between the Pakistan floods, Haiti earthquake, floods in China and West Africa, 2010 was a particularly bad year for natural disasters.

In a new report A Year of Living Dangerously, the Brookings Institution takes a look back at the natural disasters that shook the world in 2010.

"Almost 300 million people were affected by natural disasters in 2010. The large disasters provided constant headlines throughout the year, beginning with the devastating earthquake in Haiti fol-lowed one month later by the even more severe—but far less deadly—earthquake in Chile. In the spring, ash spewing from volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland paralyzed flights for weeks in the north-ern hemisphere. Early summer witnessed the worst Russian wildfires in history while a few months later, the steadily rising floodwaters in Pakistan covered 20 percent of the country. In sum, it was a terrible year in terms of natural disasters causing havoc and destruction around the globe. However, many of the largest disasters barely made headlines in the Western press.

Most notably, over 130 million Chinese were affected by the worst flooding in recent history—this is more than five times the number of people affected by the earthquake in Haiti and the Pakistani floods combined—but the Chinese floods received far less international attention than either Paki-stan or Haiti. The example of the Chinese floods illustrates one of the dilemmas in response to natu-ral disasters, which is that disasters, even major ones, receive significantly diverging media coverage. In the case of China, although over 130 million people were affected and some 4,000 were reported killed or missing, 1 very little international assistance was provided or requested. There was no overall United Nation funding appeal for those affected. The widely-regarded web-portal Reliefweb posted only 243 entries on the Chinese floods, primarily from the Chinese News Agency, in comparison with 10 times that number of entries on the flooding in Pakistan which occurred several months later in the year and affected around 20 million people.

Here are the top disasters from the report:

1. China - Flood - 134 million
2. China - Drought - 60
3. Pakistan - Flood - 18.1
4. Niger - Drought - 7.9
5. Thailand - Drought - 6.5
6. Ethiopia - Drought - 6.2
7. China (Jilan Province) - Flood - 6.0
8. Sudan - Drought - 4.3
9. Kenya - Drought - 3.8
10. Haiti - Earthquake - 3.7

TOTAL = 294 million people affected by top 10 disasters in 2010.

And the deadliest disasters of 2010:

1. Haiti - Earthquake - 316,000 deaths
2. Russia - Heatwave - 55,736
3. China - Earthquake - 2.968
4. Pakistan - Flood - 1,985
5. China - Landslides - 1,765
6. China - Flood - 1,691
7. Chile - Earthquake - 562
8. Indonesia - Tsunami - 530
9. Peru - Coldwave - 409
10. Uganda - Landslides - 388

TOTAL = 390,300 deaths

ARTICLE - MORE HURRICANES = WARM EARTH?

HURRICANES WORSEN; IS A WARMER EARTH TO BLAMES?
(Philadelphia Inquirer) - By Anthony R. Wood

The simmering issue of whether a warmer world brews more-destructive hurricanes is a powerful one, not just for coastal interests but for every U.S. taxpayer from Philadelphia to Honolulu.

Look for the debate to heat up this year, as the latest outlooks are calling for another busy and potentially destructive hurricane season, which will begin June 1.

Without question, hurricanes have become more devastating as the world has become warmer during the last 30 years.

But are the trends related?

Human activity indisputably is a factor - for evidence, see all that nature-taunting coastal building. The greenhouse case, however, remains arguable.

A word on the warming: It's been real. Global temperatures have been above long-term averages every month since February 1985, according to National Climate Data Center records dating to 1880. They are just under a degree Fahrenheit higher now than they were when the trend started.

As for the hurricanes, a warming trend also has taken hold in the storm-inciting waters of the tropics, and a 2008 study found rather convincingly that peak winds of the strongest hurricanes have intensified since 1981.

So have the costs.

In 1989, Hugo slammed into South Carolina and arced all the way to Lake Erie, causing $7 billion in damage, three times more than any U.S. hurricane before it. The cataclysmic Katrina, 16 years later, would become the country's first $80 billion storm.

So shouldn't that seal the greenhouse case? Not quite.

The 2008 paper documenting stronger peak winds in the most-potent storms relied on global satellite data available only as far back as 1981.

The changes did track neatly with increases in sea-surface temperatures - SSTs - and the paper might have been the first to establish the SST-wind connection. But it did not address the question of whether those increases were cyclical or something permanent.

"We did not examine what might be causing the uptick in SST," said James Elsner, a hurricane specialist at Florida State University, who led the study.

As for those staggering hurricane costs, they clearly speak to the amazing building boom along the coasts since 1970. Much of it occurred before 1995, a general lull for hurricane activity in the Atlantic basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Active and lull periods have alternated in cycles of 25 years or more, and an active era got cooking in 1995. Since then, it has been hurricane rush hour in the Atlantic.

The hurricanes have encountered barricades of buildings along the Southeast coast and Gulf Coast.

To look at the consequences of development, consider Katrina. Tweaking for 2010 dollars, Katrina resulted in an estimated $91.4 billion in insured and property losses.

But if Katrina had hit the same areas in 1970, the damage would have been closer to $40 billion in today's dollars, according to an analysis by Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado.

Adjusting for inflation and current levels of building, Pielke has estimated what storms would cost if they arrived today, and his tables are oft-cited. On the Pielke list, Katrina is a distant third behind the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 and the Galveston disaster of 1900.

The horrors of Katrina extracted staggering costs, leaving U.S. taxpayers with a $40 billion disaster-aid bill, plus $18 billion in federal flood-insurance losses. The total comes to better than $500 per household.

Disaster aid wells from the best impulses of mankind, said Pielke's colleague William Travis, director of the university's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, but "we're digging ourselves a hole. How are we going to get out?"

Hurricanes remain the biggest-ticket item for disaster expenses - far bigger than tornadoes, earthquakes, and other mayhem.

At the end of the 2010 hurricane season, Federal Emergency Management Agency figures showed that more than 80 percent of the $65 billion in disaster costs since 2005 had been due to hurricanes.

The major hurricanes that make landfall in the United States are the ones that roll up the disaster costs, as they drag waves landward and cause widespread flooding.

That is why the outlooks issued this month by Accu-Weather Inc. and Colorado State University researchers William Gray and Philip Klotzbach are particularly worrisome.

The team forecast 16 named storms, with winds 39 m.p.h. or more, including eight hurricanes, with winds at least 74 m.p.h. Accu-Weather predicted 15 named storms, including eight hurricanes. The long-term averages are 10 named storms and six hurricanes.

ARTICLE - MARTELLY - FRESH HOPE

Martelly offers fresh hope to quake-hit Haiti
(AP) - By Clement Sabourin

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Fresh from a resounding presidential election win last month, former popular singer Michel Martelly has vowed to quickly relaunch stalled efforts to rebuild the earthquake-ravaged nation.

The pace of reconstruction has been glacial since the January 2010 quake, but Martelly, known to many by his stage name "Sweet Micky," wants to make a fresh start when he takes over next month from outgoing President Rene Preval.

The 50-year-old has promised tangible results within the first 100 days of his administration, but there are understandable fears about the abilities of the former carnival entertainer who is a complete political novice.

To effectively rule the notoriously dysfunctional Caribbean nation, which is the poorest country in the Americas, he must first stitch together a government from a parliament in which his party only has a handful of seats.

The problems facing Martelly are vast: from endemic poverty and corruption to reforming health and education departments that are largely dependent on foreign NGOs and dealing with a cholera epidemic that has claimed almost 5,000 lives since October.

When the succession takes place on May 14, nearly 500 days will have passed since the earthquake disaster, which claimed more than 220,000 lives and left some 1.5 million homeless.

Progress has been hampered by political paralysis, with the makeup of Haiti's parliament and the identity of the prime minister still to be determined at the end of a protracted election process that began in November.

"All of us, at all levels, are hoping change will speed up when the new government is in place," said Patrick Fequieres, who leads a family-run water treatment and construction business.

More than 15 months on, hundreds of thousands of Haitians whose homes and livelihoods were obliterated by the 7.0-magnitude quake still live in squalid tent cities, losing hope for the future.

The international community has pledged billions of dollars to speed Haiti's recovery and former US president Bill Clinton, who co-chairs the reconstruction commission, has indicated funds will flow a lot more freely once the transfer of political power is peacefully achieved.

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission "landed in a chaotic situation and had a hard time taking off," said former Haitian foreign minister Jean-Robert Simonise.

But he expressed hope things would change once Martelly takes office.

"He has the leadership to do so and the fact that he is highly criticized -- that there are doubts about his abilities -- will force him to show" what he can do, said Simonise.

He expressed hope that a rebuilding effort spearheaded by Martelly could bolster private investment and help reverse the prevailing public sentiment that foreign officials are detached from the local population.

The legacy of Preval -- once praised for bringing stability to Haiti after decades of bloody coups, dictatorship and misrule -- has been dented by the perception that his management of the post-quake reconstruction has been poor.

Preval was not "up to the job during the catastrophe that followed the earthquake," said businessman Reginald Boulos. "The country needs real change today."

Haiti's election commission, the Provisional Electoral Council, has postponed the announcement of final vote results until Wednesday, but is unlikely to overturn Martelly's commanding win in the March 20 run-off.

Preliminary results gave Martelly 67.57 percent of the vote against former first lady Mirlande Manigat, who finished with 31.74 percent.

The IHRC said it hoped to pick of the pace of rebuilding once Martelly was sworn in.

"With the advent of a president who was elected with 67 percent of the vote, the arrival of a new team to power, the election of new parliamentarians, we can only hope for a new momentum in reconstruction," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Boulos suggested there could be a price to pay if Martelly's hope-filled campaign does not translate into real progress.

"There is a positive spirit in the air. People believe, people wait," he said. "We better make sure these people are not disappointed."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

VIDEO - MOUNTAIN LIFE


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This video shows a mountain family home.



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People were praying outside of the church for the baptism service that day.



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These members of the church enjoyed getting their photo taken.

photos - mountain church - part 1

Haiti is a country of mountains. Pastor Pierre works with us here at Coram Deo and he has a couple of churches in the mountains of Kenscoff. The church that is over some mountains was having a special baptism service for 18 people. Pastor Pierre took along a camera and captured the walk to what I call the "far church" You literally walk over mountain crests to get to the church, a beautiful and strenuous walk!
You can see the effects of deforestation . Barran mountain sides with not much tree cover is a sad reality for Haiti.


This little girl is standing beside a large tree!


People living in the mountains usually need to walk to find a water source; spring or river. This young boy was walking a path down to a water source with an empty gallon bucket.


The families in this area are poor and they struggle to survive in an environment that gets worse each year.

photos - mountain church - part 2

This is a view of a couple of homes below the mountain crest. Erosion gets worse with each rain. Nothing holds back the soil from being washed down the mountain sides.
Malnutrition is a problem as parents struggle to find food to feed their children.


This young boy squats on the ground near in front of his home.


Drinking water is precious in the mountains. This woman is bringing out a cup of water for Pastor Pierre.


In the mountains it is cooler and whenever we get donations of clothing suitable for cooler temperatures we usually given them to Pastor Pierre to distribute up in the mountains.

photos - mountain church - part 3

People are appreciative of the clothing. Pastor Pierre knows which people in the community are most in need of assistance.
The church went for a walk to the river for the baptism. They walked single-file over the mountain trails.


In the riverbed are some large boulders. During rainfalls the river flows quickly, but during the dry season not much water flows.


The church members got together for a special baptism service for the 18 people who were baptized. The church was destroyed a couple of years ago by a passing hurricane and this is what the church building looks like now. We are trying to find a way to help the people rebuild their church building.


This is the toilet. His and hers. Each squats a different direction! Looks like the church needs some walls around the toilet holes too!

photos - mountain church - part 4

These are the the people who were getting baptized that day.
The inside of the church is decorated.


These 2 people were the church ushers. They are both wearing t-shirts that we sent along with Pastor Pierre.


It was a happy occassion to rejoice and praise the Lord for the 18 new believers who became part of this mountain church.


There was a procession of offerings into the church. These women were carrying baskets of food that would be shared amongst the congregation after the service. These poor people share what they have amongst each other.

photos - mountain church - part 5

Different choirs sang during this time of celebrations. This is a male choir.
The congregation packed the inside of the church.


There was not much available space!


This ladies choir sang as well.


These special church services can go for 3 hours.

photos - mountain church - part 6

This choir sang as well.
The church was packed and there wasn't enough benches to sit on. You can see that the people sitting to the right of the pole are seated on benches. The people sitting to the left of the pole are sitting on rocks! The Haitian people know how to improvise with what they have available to them.


Singing is enjoyed by all. Many of the people don't know how to read. They memorize bible passages and songs that are sang. They have excellent memories.


Some families in the church posed for a picture.


Picture taking is serious business! Pastor Pierre and several other pastors are seeking pastor training to improve their skills. We made contact with Adoration Christian Centre but they are not willing to help. Pray we can find others here in Haiti that will help the pastors who have "churches in the mountains". Pray for the work of missions here in Haiti.

PHOTOS - RECENT MINUSTAH/HNP OPERATIONS

To view some photos of recent UN/Haitian National Police operations follow the link to:

www.flickr.com/photos/minustah/sets/72157626492877486/show/

ARTICLE - MINUSTAH PRESS BRIEFING

PRESS BRIEFING - UNITED NATIONS IN HAITI - THURSDAY, APRIL 14, 2011
By Sylvie van den Wildenberg, spokesperson of the Mission and Jean-Francois Vezina, Spokesperson of the United Nations Police (UNPOL)

Sylvie van den Wildenberg, SPOKESMAN FOR THE MINUSTAH

Hello to you all and thank you for being with us today for this weekly news conference. I welcome the listeners of Radio MINUSTAH who follow us live. In the contents of this press conference, we will particularly make a point about crime control operations of the Police Nationale d'Haiti (PNH) backed by UN peacekeepers and UN police, which continue in Red areas of Port au Prince, and more broadly situate the overall concept of anti-crime efforts, which do not involve the capital.

Our spokesman for the United Nations Police (UNPOL), Jean-Francois Vezina, although you have already bid farewell last week, is still with us for a few days and therefore, is with us this Thursday, and he will give you the full details on these issues.

Before giving the floor, I would like to briefly mention the visit of the Secretary General's Special Representative, Edmond Mulet to the Dominican Republic, on Tuesday and Wednesday 12 and April 13, 2011. As you know, MINUSTAH has an office in Santo Domingo. The Special Representative from time to time makes visits to this office, and also courtesy calls to the authorities of the host country, the Dominican authorities. The visit that Mr. Mulet conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, is part of such courtesy. During the visit, Mr. Mulet has had the honor of being received by the President of the Dominican Republic, Dr. Leonel Fernandez. During their meeting, the President of the Dominican Republic and the Special Representative have discussed the efforts of the Mission in Haiti, the challenges before the new Haitian government and the support the United Nations are preparing to give the new government to meet these challenges. They also discussed the contributions of the Dominican Republic in terms of humanitarian aid and also the terms of reconstruction in Haiti. Note that the Foreign Minister also attended the meeting. Here, briefly, is what the visit of the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN in Haiti entailed. I now give the floor to my colleague, the police spokesman UNPOL regarding operations against crime in progress.

Speech by Jean-Francois Vezina, SPOKESMAN FOR THE UNITED NATIONS POLICE

Today, I think it is important to revisit the rationale for the presence of the UNPOL component, the United Nations Police, in MINUSTAH: It is, above all, in support of HNP, ensuring our presence in partnership with the military component of the Mission a secure and stable environment; that is to say, which offers the opportunity to all Haitians, men, women and children, the possibility to go about their daily business with the feeling of being safe. This is to ensure that children can play outside the "kay"(house); without fearing for their own safety, which is, in fact, working to improve an aspect of the quality of life for citizens, or the feeling of security.

In addition, our participation in MINUSTAH also aims to mentoring / coaching, logistical and operational forces of the Haiti National Police.

Maybe at this moment, you wonder about the message we want to leave this morning. In fact, I want today to discuss two operations held on 8 and 9 April.

The first operation is an operation called "sweeps" (Sweep), which took place at Camp Jean-Marie Vincent on April 8 between 16 and 17 hours. This operation was conducted following a request for support from the DIROPS UNPOL Divisional Commissioner of the Office of Delmas 33 in search of rampant gang members inside the camp. The operation was jointly conducted by the HNP / UNPOL, the FPU and military force of MINUSTAH. 153 personnel were involved - 41 HNP (Delmas 33), 40 military, 30 FPU + 42 UNPOL

Results: 150 people checked, 10 detainees suspected of being associated with a gang active in the camp JMV. According to reports which reached me during the operation, the camp residents have welcomed the arrests by applause.

The second operation was also a search operation held in Cite de Dieu (City of God), Portail Leogane, on April 9, between 6am and 9.30am.

This operation was conducted at the request of the Assistant Commissioner/ Commissioner Portail Leogane to apprehend members of a criminal group active in this sector of the capital. It was a joint HNP / / UNPOL / Military Force to MINUSTAH.

Over 200 people were involved in the action: 160 personnel, 16 UNPOL, 35 HNP (Haitian National Police and SWAT teams two UNPOL attended)

Result: 8 people arrested who are also members or closely related to a very active and dangerous gang (according to our information, one of the suspects is linked to the murder of an officer of the HNP). HNP are investigating the matter. During this operation, we also seized a submachine gun (Uzi), nearly 100 9mm cartridge, 2 cartridges 5.56 mm, 5 chargers, two 9mm high capacity and 4 cell phones.

At first glance, these two operations may seem trivial, yet they are far from it. They are exactly the same as the text of various resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations asking us to provide operational support to the Haitian National Police. Resolution 1542 is clear on this. By the same support, the Security Council also expects us to provide adequate protection for civilians. We are faced with the risk of resurgence of gang violence and organized crime, paying particular attention to the needs of the displaced.

This morning, our message to groups of criminals who try to destabilize the Haitian people by their illicit activities is simple:

Our rationale on Haitian soil, United Nations police officers from 49 nationalities, is currently and will in the future work tirelessly and with determination to the professionalization, development of organizational and operational capacity as well as mentoring Police Nationale d'Haiti, a young police organization that continues to grow since its inception in 1995. We will continue to support the authorities of the HNP to participate alongside them in search of escaped criminals, by participation in operations throughout the country, but particularly inside the capital.

Obviously, the participation, involvement of the entire Haitian population in the continuous improvement of their safety is paramount. Even today, we ask their support in contacting us with any information of a criminal nature that could help the HNP in the success of their operations and in the quest and the continuous improvement of their own security.

Emergency lines 113 to connect to the UNPOL component and 114 to reach the HNP are still being used. I remember that line 113 is a free information line and that any information transmitted remains confidential.

Questions & Answers

Q (Vision 2000): I have three questions: first, I have an idea of the meeting between Mr Mulet and President Fernandez. Second, where are we with the investigation of the Cholera epidemic? Third: what is the reaction of MINUSTAH to the speech of President Rene Preval, where he recently asked to rethink the UN mission in Haiti.

A: Sylvie van den Wildenberg (MINUSTAH): As I explained at the beginning of the press conference, the visit is part of visits that the Special Representative performs in the Dominican Republic where we have a liaison office MINUSTAH in the capital. It also forms part of the courtesy that Mulet performs occasionally with the authorities of the host country for our liaison office, mostly administrative, and neighboring Haiti, where we have our Mission. Mr. Mulet was particularly welcomed by the President of the Republic, Leonel Fernandez, and had a conversation with him for about an hour, in which also participated the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They discussed two main topics, the first being the efforts of the Mission in Haiti, an update on the work of the mission in Haiti, the challenges of the future, but also on the contribution of the Dominican Republic for humanitarian efforts and reconstruction efforts in Haiti. Since Mr. Mulet is the Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, it is sometimes also important that the Secretary General Ambassador to the Dominican Republic make a connection between it and the Government of the Dominican Republic on bringing this country up to date on United Nations efforts and others in favor of Haiti.

Regarding your second question, the independent experts' report on the origin of cholera, I have not updated this since last week: Like you, we await the publication of the report. The group of experts, as you know is a group of independent experts appointed at the request of the Secretary General of the United Nations, and the object of this work was to attempt to determine the source of the cholera epidemic in Haiti. Like you, we await the findings of this report and, I repeat once again, transparently.

Third question: What is the reaction of MINUSTAH to the speech of President Rene Preval, where he recently asked to rethink the UN mission in Haiti? MINUSTAH has no particular comment to make on a speech that was made by the Haitian head of state during an open debate before the Security Council. What I want to remind here is the running of a MINUSTAH mandate conferred on it by the Security Council. We are the incarnation of a Security Council resolution that was decided by Council members. When the resolution changes, and the Council fits our new mandate, we run this new mandate. It belongs to the Security Council to review our mandate and we adapt ourselves to this new mandate.

Q: (MINUSTAH FM): Mr Vezina, you mentioned search operations, you said you were looking for gang leaders. More than twenty people were arrested, they are associated with gangs. Are they gang leaders or gang members?

Jean Francois Vezina (UNPOL): In one of the operations, there was talk of a gang leader. Unfortunately I did not name the person but the authorities at the national police of Haiti, could provide you with this information. The information we have reported following these actions was that in the second operation, in City of God, eight individuals closely linked to a gang had been arrested that had plagued this sector. Among these eight individuals, there was a leader. Is it the supreme leader of the group? I can not tell you ... But it is a very influential leader of the group.

VISION 2000: Will you tell us what are the reports of MINUSTAH in the future government of Haiti?

Sylvie van den Wildenberg (MINUSTAH): We hope they will be excellent, of course. We have already had contact with the future President and his team, we hope that these relations will be very harmonious. We are ready to support this new government, and anyway, as you know, we are here at the invitation of the Haitian authorities. We hope that our relations with the next government will be very smooth and we are confident that this will happen.

Vision 200: What does MINUSTAH have to say about the postponement of the publication of final election results?

Sylvie van den Wildenberg (MINUSTAH):It is a sovereign decision of the electoral authority in the Haitian Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). To my knowledge, the PEC has not yet released a press release announcing a possible postponement. For now, there is just information floating around, and I refer you to the Provisional Electoral Council, which is the relevant institution to whom it belongs to officially announce the results or to formally comment on a publication date. Thank you very much.

ARTICLE - GANG MONEY CIRCULATING FREELY

HAITI - INSECURITY: GANG MONEY CIRCULATES FREELY
(HaitiLibre) -

At a press briefing on Thursday, Frantz Thermilus Commissioner of the Central Directorate of Judicial Police (DCPJ), as part of the fight against money laundering conducted by this department, has launched an appeal to various financial institutions, in order that they fulfill their obligations, especially the commercial banks; that they provide a better collaboration to enable the police to arrest the bandits and traffickers and combat among others the kidnapping.

"How can the police effectively combat kidnapping when financial institutions have failed in their duties. Rules of the Unit for Combating Corruption (ULCC) and the Central Financial Intelligence Unit (UCREF) oblige commercial banks and others, to provide information on all transactions, deposits or withdrawals made ​​by a person, for an amount exceeding US$10,000". The Commissioner strongly condemns, the negligence of some stakeholders of the national life : financial institutions, banks, car dealers, notaries and others... According to Frantz Thermilus, money laundering is a key factor in the organization of kidnapping and other illegal activities.

The Commissioner of the DCPJ cited as an example, the case of a former CIMO officer, Walter Saint Juste who is on the run, wanted by the police. "The former officer has paid cash for a car at a price of $32,800 dollars. The next day, that same person bought another car for the same amount. The car dealer, which I do not want to list the name, did not even take care to inform the authorities about such transactions. Gangs are using rental cars to commit their crimes. I am in possession of a list of 17 rental vehicles that have been used in cases of kidnapping," he added.

Frantz Thermilus reported that between 2008 and 2010, the DCPJ had instructed the Bureau of Economic and Financial Affairs, to investigate money laundering. "Goods in kind and in cash, estimated at 70 million U.S. dollars have been seized, and more than forty houses [of trafficking] are not included in the $ 70 million". He indicated that during this same period, 49 arrests were made​​, 45 people were sent to the Haitian justice system and 4 delivered to the U.S. Government.

Thermilus said that there is a strong upsurge in acts of kidnapping in the country [8cases since the beginning of April] and it is almost impossible for the police to combat this phenomenon, if the stakeholders of the national life and the population do not play their roles. "Kidnapping is an affair of state" and it is the concern of all.

ARTICLE - DUVALIER - EVIDENCE TO PROSECUTE

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP SAYS ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO PROSECUTE HAITIAN DICTATOR FOR CRIMES IN 80's
(AP) - By Trenton Daniel

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Jean-Claude Duvalier may not have directly participated in torture and killings but there is still enough evidence to prosecute him for abuses dating back more than 25 years, a Human Rights Watch lawyer said Thursday.

The former dictator known as "Baby Doc" had to be at least aware of torture and killings committed by forces under his command according to testimony from victims and a review of documents and old media accounts, Human Rights Watch counsel Reed Brody said at a news conference to present a report reviewing the evidence against Duvalier.

"There's a lot of evidence to show that Jean-Claude Duvalier may have ordered certain crimes," Brody told reporters as he urged Haitian authorities to prosecute former the dictator. "At the very least ... he never stepped in to stop those crimes."

A Haitian judge launched an investigation of Duvalier soon after his surprise return from exile in January. But the case has appeared to stall. The former dictator is staying in a villa while the judge decides whether he can still be charged for crimes that include corruption, illegal arrests and torture.

His lawyers say the statute of limitations on any alleged offences has run out. Michael Puglise, one of his attorneys, dismissed the Human Rights Watch as a politically motivated attack on the former president.

"I would question who is behind the report. What are the motivating factors," Puglise said. "These are political opponents of Duvalier pushing this."

Duvalier, 59, ruled Haiti from 1971 to 1986 after inheriting power from his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier. He was ousted in 1986 in a popular uprising against a regime widely considered brutal and corrupt.

ARTICLE - DUVALIER - RIGHTS GROUP PRESSES

HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP PRESSES FOR DUVALIER TRIAL IN HAITI
(CNN) - By Moni Basu

Haiti has an opportunity to address the worst crimes of its past in prosecuting former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, a leading human rights monitoring agency says.

It is pressing for a full investigation and subsequent trial and urges the international community to lend resources to help fill gaps in Haiti's legal system.

"The Duvalier trial could be the most important criminal case in Haitian history," said Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch. "The challenges for Haiti's weak justice system to carry out a fair trial are enormous, but international support can help Haiti meet those challenges."

In Quebec, Canada -- home to about 100,000 Haitians -- a new effort was launched this week to help victims of the Duvalier era to step forward with their stories.

A newly formed survivors group, the Committee Against Impunity and for Justice in Haiti, plans to gather testimony that could be used as evidence in a potential criminal case.

"Certainly, it is difficult for anybody who suffered," said Matt Eisenbrandt, legal counsel for the Canadian Centre for International Justice, which is working on the project. "But there are many people who feel the need for justice."

Human Rights Watch issued a 47-page report Thursday urging the international community to send temporary legal staff with experience in complex cases and to assist the Haitian government compile information through the release of diplomatic cables and other evidence.

The group urged the Haitian government to provide a safe environment for witnesses and allow for judicial staff to work independently.

Duvalier stunned the world by returning to Haiti in January after 25 years of exile in France.

He stands accused of the abuse, torture and killings of Haitians during his 15 years of autocratic rule.

Amnesty International gave Haitian authorities 100 documents that it says detail cases of detention without trial, systematic torture, disappearances and extrajudicial killings that took place between 1971 and 1986, when Duvalier was president.

After Duvalier's return to Port-au-Prince, Haitian authorities reopened a 2008 corruption and embezzlement case against him based on allegations that he stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the national treasury. Human rights groups want Haitian authorities to bring him to trial for his alleged brutality also.

Several Haitians have already filed criminal complaints against Duvalier.

Michele Montas, a journalist and former spokeswoman for the United Nations secretary-general, said she endured threats and detention and survived an assassination attempt for her journalism. The staff at the independent radio station of her husband, Jean Dominique, was harassed and the station was shut down during Duvalier's rule, she said. She was expelled from the country in 1980 and returned only after Duvalier's ouster.

"We have enough proof," she told CNN in January. "There are enough people who can testify. And what I will do is go to a public prosecutor, and there is a public prosecutor that could actually accommodate our complaints."

Dominique was slain in 2000. His daughter Nadine Dominique is one of the organizers of the victims group in Quebec.

"We were shocked when we heard the news that he had returned to Haiti," said Nadine Dominique. "We all felt so strongly that we had to help bring him to justice, because without that, the Haitian people will never fully heal. You cannot move on without that closure."

Human Rights Watch says that under Duvalier's leadership, an extensive network of security forces exhibited a pattern of human rights abuses in order to enforce control.

The report lists extrajudicial killings, detentions and "savage torture" of people between 1971 and 1986.

"In some cases, there is evidence that they acted under the direct order of Duvalier," the report says.

Duvalier told reporters in January that he wanted to be in Haiti to help with rebuilding the country after last year's devastating earthquake.

Brody said a fair trial for Duvalier could help the troubled Caribbean nation move forward and "mark a break with the impunity that has characterized Haiti's past."