Thursday, July 14, 2011

ARTICLE - OAS-PADF RECEIVE 3 MILLION FOR HOME REPAIRS

OAS AND PADF RECEIVE DONATION OF THREE MILLION DOLLARS FOR HOME REPAIR PRGRAM IN HAITI
(Bahamas Weekly) - By OAS

The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), a cooperanting institution of the Organization of American States (OAS), received today a three-million-dollar grant from the Clinton – Bush Haiti Fund and the Caterpillar Foundation in support of the Haiti Home Repair Program in the Haitian city of Léogâne, the epicenter of the earthquake that affected the Caribbean country in January 2010.

In a ceremony held at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, Secretary General Insulza stated that “this collaboration with the Ministry of Public Works is an excellent example of how the OAS and PADF are strengthening the Haitian government’s capacity and helping to address Haiti’s most immediate requirements for safe and secure shelter for thousands of homeless Haitians."

The highest representative of the hemispheric institution specifically thanked expressly the Caterpillar Foundation for its “continuous cooperation with PADF”and the Clinton – Bush Haiti Fund for “the support and work they do inHaiti."

The Executive Director of the PADF, John Sanbrailo, expressed his “appreciation to the contributors" and highlighted the ceremony as the continuation to a calling made by the Secretary General a year ago to become one of the leader organizations in give response to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti. “This ceremony represents clearly all that PADF is about: mobilizing donations," he added.

Clay Thompson, Corporate Government Affairs Manager of the Caterpillar Foundation expressed the “honor”of participating in this program and in a ceremony like this, while the Vice-president for the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund, Ambassador Timothy Carney, said that “it is a special occasion when an entity like the PADF with Caterpillar and the Clinton- Bush Haiti Fund do something so enormously worthwhile in the very epicenter of the earthquake last year."

The Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS, Ambassador Duly Brutus, expressed his thankfulness and said that “this contribution is proof that despite the continuing economic crisis, many Americans still remain sensitive to the idea of demonstrating concretely their solidarity with Haiti."

PADF’s project will fund the repair of 800 damaged multi-family homes in Léogâne, allowing 7,200 Haitians rapid and efficient access to safe and habitable housing. Furthermore, PADF with the Ministry of Public Works, will hire and train 214 Haitian engineers, masons, subcontractors and workers for the repairs. The goal is to teach them construction best practices and disaster risk reduction to ensure the safety and durability of the structures.

PADF is a non profit organization that was created in 1962 through an agreement between the Organization of American States and the private sector to promote, facilitate and implement economic and development programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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

ARTICLE - HAITI'S PROBLEM SHELTERS

THE SHELTERS THAT CLINTON BUILT
(The Nation) - By Isabel Macdonald and Isabeau Doucet

In the wake of Haiti's earthquake, the Clinton Foundation promised hurricane shelters that would double as classrooms. But they delivered shoddy, formaldehyde-ridden trailers from the same company that supplied FEMA after Hurricane Katrina.

When Demosthene Lubert heard that Bill Clinton's foundation was going to rebuild his collapsed school at the epicenter of Haiti's January 12, 2010, earthquake, in the coastal city of Léogâne, the academic director thought he was "in paradise."

The project was announced by Clinton as his foundation's first contribution to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, which the former president co-chairs. The foundation described the project as "hurricane-proof... emergency shelters that can also serve as schools... to ensure the safety of vulnerable populations in high risk areas during the hurricane season," while also providing Haitian schoolchildren "a decent place to learn" and creating local jobs. The facilities, according to the foundation, would be equipped with power generators, restrooms, water and sanitary storage. They became one of the IHRC's first projects.

However, when Nation reporters visited the "hurricane-proof" shelters in June, six to eight months after they'd been installed, we found them to consist of twenty imported prefab trailers beset by a host of problems, from mold to sweltering heat to shoddy construction. Most disturbing, they were manufactured by the same company, Clayton Homes, that is being sued in the United States for providing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with formaldehyde-laced trailers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Air samples collected from twelve Haiti trailers detected worrying levels of this carcinogen in one, according to laboratory results obtained as part of a joint investigation by The Nation and The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund.

Inside Haiti's "Hurricane Proof" Trailers.

Clayton Homes is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company run by Warren Buffett, one of the "notable" private-sector members of the Clinton Global Initiative, according to the initiative's website. ("Members" are typically required to pay $20,000 a year to the charity, but foundation officials would not disclose whether Buffett had made such a donation.) Buffett was also a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter during the 2008 presidential race, and he co-hosted a fundraiser that brought in at least $1 million for her campaign.

By mid-June, two of the four schools where the Clinton Foundation classrooms were installed had prematurely ended classes for the summer because the temperature in the trailers frequently exceeded 100 degrees, and one had yet to open for lack of water and sanitation facilities.

As Judith Seide, a student in Lubert's sixth-grade class, explained to The Nation, she and her classmates regularly suffer from painful headaches in their new Clinton Foundation classroom. Every day, she said, her "head hurts and I feel it spinning and have to stop moving, otherwise I'd fall." Her vision goes dark, as is the case with her classmate Judel, who sometimes can't open his eyes because, said Seide, "he's allergic to the heat." Their teacher regularly relocates the class outside into the shade of the trailer because the swelter inside is insufferable.

Sitting in the sixth-grade classroom, student Mondialie Cineas, who dreams of becoming a nurse, said that three times a week the teacher gives her and her classmates painkillers so that they can make it through the school day. "At noon, the class gets so hot, kids get headaches," the 12-year-old said, wiping beads of sweat from her brow. She is worried because "the kids feel sick, can't work, can't advance to succeed."

Word about the students' headaches has made it all the way to the Léogâne mayor's office, but like the students, their teachers and parents, Mayor Santos Alexis chalked it up to the intense heat inside the trailers.

But headaches were not the only health problems students, staff and parents at the Institut Haitiano-Caribbean (INHAC) told us they've suffered from since the inauguration of the classrooms. Innocent Sylvain, a shy janitor who looks much older than his 41 years, spends more time than anyone in the new trailer classrooms, with the inglorious task of mopping up the water that leaks through the doors and windows each time it rains. He has felt a burning sensation in his eyes ever since he began working long hours in the trailers. One of his eyes is completely bloodshot, and he said, "They itch and burn." He'd previously been sensitive to eye irritation, but he says he's had worse "problems since the month of January" — when the schoolrooms opened their doors.

Any number of factors might be contributing to the headaches and eye irritation reported by INHAC staff and students. However, similar symptoms were experienced by those living in the FEMA trailers that were found by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have unsafe levels of formaldehyde. Lab tests conducted as part of our investigation in Haiti discovered levels of the carcinogen in the sixth-grade Clinton Foundation classroom in Léogâne at 250 parts per billion — two and a half times the level at which the CDC warned FEMA trailer residents that sensitive people, such as children, could face adverse health effects. Assay Technologies, the accredited lab that analyzed the air tests, identifies 100 parts per billion and more as the level at which "65–80 percent of the population will most likely exhibit some adverse health symptoms... when exposed continually over extended periods of time."

Randy Maddalena, a scientist specializing in indoor pollutants at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, characterized the 250 parts per billion finding as "a very high level" of formaldehyde and warned that "it's of concern," particularly given the small sample size. An elevated level of formaldehyde in one of twelve trailers tested is comparable to the formaldehyde emissions problems detected in about 9 percent of similar Clayton mobile homes supplied by FEMA after Hurricane Katrina. Maddalena explained that in "normal" buildings, you'll see rates twelve to twenty-five times lower than 250 parts per billion, "and even that's considered above regulatory thresholds."

According to the CDC, formaldehyde exposure can exacerbate symptoms of asthma and has been linked to chronic lung disease. Studies have shown that children are particularly vulnerable to its respiratory effects. The chemical was recently added to the US Department of Health and Human Services' "Report of Carcinogens," based on studies linking exposure to formaldehyde with increased risk for rare types of cancer.

"You should get those kids outta there," Maddalena said. The scientist emphasized that Haiti's hot and humid climate could well be contributing to high emissions of the carcinogen in the classroom. Indeed, months before the launch of the Clinton trailer project, the nation's climate was widely cited as a key problem with a trailer industry proposal to ship FEMA trailers to Haiti for shelter after the earthquake. The proposal was ultimately rejected by FEMA, following a critical letter from Bennie Thompson, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, who argued, "This country's immediate response to help in this humanitarian crisis should not be blemished by later concerns over adverse health consequences precipitated by our efforts."

Yet several months later, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Clayton Homes had been awarded a million-dollar contract to ship twenty trailers to Haiti, for use as classrooms for schoolchildren. The Clinton Foundation claims it went through a bidding process before awarding the contract to Clayton Homes, which was already embroiled in the FEMA trailer lawsuit. But despite repeated requests, the foundation has not provided The Nation with any documentation of this process.

There are hints that Clayton Homes aggressively pursued the contract. For example, a company press release dated August 6, 2010, notes, "When former President Bill Clinton was named to head the relief effort, Clayton's Director of International Development, Paul Thomas, called the Clinton Foundation to see if there was a way to help."

The chief of staff for the office of the UN Special Envoy, Garry Conille, emphasized that the foundation's decision-making on the project took place in a context of great urgency, with the advent of the 2010 hurricane season, when 1.5 million people were living in tent camps. "Under the circumstances, with all these people exposed, with the first rains," said Conille, "it would have been completely acceptable to go to a single source, but we didn't."

The Clinton Foundation's chief operating officer, Laura Graham, said in a phone interview that the contract was awarded to Clayton on the basis of a "limited request for proposals" from nine companies. She added that the decision was informed by "recommendations from a panel including a lot of these experts that do this work for a living, and Clayton was recommended as the most cost-efficient, with the best product and with the strongest Haitian partner." She clarified that she did not participate in the bidding process but said there were "representatives from the foundation as well as [the UN] Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA], the UN Special Envoy Office and the International Organization for Migration [IOM]... and there was a request for proposals run by them."

When asked to comment on that claim, Bradley Mellicker, IOM's Port-au-Prince–based emergency preparedness and response officer, said, "That's a lie. The Clinton Foundation paid for the containers through a no-bid process." Imogen Wall, former spokeswoman for OCHA in Haiti, responded by e-mail that OCHA never deals with procurement or project management.

The Nation made multiple attempts to reach Bill Clinton for comment. However, the former president, known for championing the role of nonprofits in global affairs ("Unlike the government, we don't have to be quite as worried about a bad story in the newspapers," he recently said in a speech), never responded. A Clayton Homes official referred all queries regarding the contract to the Clinton Foundation.

When he heard that the new classrooms in his community had been built by a FEMA formaldehyde litigation defendant, Santos Alexis, Léogâne's stately mayor, said, "I hope these are not the same trailers that made people sick in the US. Otherwise I would be very critical; it would be chaos." (They are indeed different trailers, according to an engineer at Clayton Homes, who said the new classrooms were constructed specifically for the Clinton Foundation's Haiti project.)

"It would be humiliating to us, and we'll take this as a black thing," the mayor added, drawing a parallel between his community in Haiti, the world's first black republic, and the disproportionate numbers of African-Americans affected by the US government's mismanagement of the emergency response after Hurricane Katrina.

Demosthene Lubert's disappointment is palpable as he sits in one of his new-smelling classrooms, perspiration dripping from his face. He had envisioned that the foundation of the former US president would rebuild INHAC, his school, as a modern institution with solar panel–powered lights and Wi-Fi. At a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in May, Dr. Paul Farmer, Clinton's deputy UN special envoy, called for healthcare to be integrated into schools. At the very least, Lubert expected the Clinton Foundation, which is active in global health philanthropy and cholera prevention in Haiti, to help with school sanitation.

"I thought the grand foundation of Clinton was going to build us latrines and dig us wells for the children to wash their hands before meals and after using the toilet... especially as we're at the mercy of cholera," Lubert says with a sigh. Less than an hour north of Léogâne, in Carrefour, the number of cholera cases went from eighty-five per week at the end of April to 820 a week at the beginning of June, according to Sylvain Groulx, country director of Médecins Sans Frontières. The disease, which is preventable with proper sanitary conditions, has killed 5,500 people since the epidemic began last October.

The Clinton Foundation did not build so much as a latrine at the school, or at any of the three other schools where its trailers were installed. (INHAC and two of the other schools had a limited number of pre-existing outhouses, which the school directors saw as inadequate, while the fourth did not have a single outhouse, making it unusable, according to the school's director.)

Conille, Clinton's chief of staff at his UN office, acknowledged in a telephone interview that the trailer classrooms "would never meet the standards for school building" under Haitian or international regulations.

"Normally when you hear 'Clin-ton,' when people speak of 'Clin-ton,' the name 'Clin-ton' carries a lot of weight," says Lubert. He trails off, looking suddenly uncertain. Clinton's name echoes ambiguously through the swampy chemical air like a plea, a mantra or a brand.

June 1 marked the beginning of Haiti's 2011 hurricane season, and meteorologists project that Haiti could face up to eighteen tropical storms with three to six of these developing to hurricane strength. Léogâne, where 95 percent of the downtown area was flooded by Hurricane Tomas last year, is relying on the Clinton Foundation's trailers as Plan A in the municipality's emergency response.

The foundation's original proposal to the IHRC referred to the buildings it planned to construct in Léogâne as "hurricane-proof" shelters, and this past March, Clinton Foundation foreign policy director Ami Desai reiterated that claim in a phone interview. On the foundation website, the promotional write-up about the trailers is featured under the heading "Emergency Hurricane Shelter Project."

Larry Tanner, a wind science specialist at Texas Tech University, was "suspicious" when he heard that trailers were to be used as hurricane shelters in Haiti. Tanner thought it unlikely that Clayton Homes had developed a mobile home that could safely be used as a hurricane shelter, saying in a telephone interview that he put the odds at "slim to none." Mobile homes are considered by FEMA to be so unsafe in hurricanes that the agency unequivocally advises the public to evacuate them.

In an interview with The Nation, Clayton Homes engineer Mark Izzo said the Léogâne trailers could withstand winds of up to 140 miles per hour. The company arrived at this figure through calculations, he said, rather than testing.

But Tanner emphasizes that such structures must be rigorously tested for resistance to high winds and projectiles. Clayton Homes's failure to test the trailers meant that they would not meet the international construction standard for hurricane shelter. "It certainly would not be accepted by FEMA either," Tanner added. Moreover, the kind of anchoring systems used by the trailers in Léogâne — which rely on metal straps to attach the shelter to the ground — "fail routinely," according to Tanner.

Two weeks into Haiti's hurricane season, The Nation visited some of the Clinton shelters with Kit Miyamoto, a California-based structural engineer contracted by USAID and the Haitian government to assess the safety of buildings in Port-au-Prince. Standing in front of one of the trailers, Miyamoto looked doubtful when asked whether, in his professional view, these structures were, as the Clinton Foundation has repeatedly claimed, "hurricane-proof." In the world of engineering, buildings are rarely considered to be truly hurricane-proof, explained Miyamoto, who said he had never heard of a wooden trailer being used as a hurricane shelter, let alone being referred to as a hurricane-proof building. "To be hurricane-proof you a need a heavier structure with concrete or blocks," he explained.

Miyamoto emphasized that one of the most crucial elements for the public safety was how well the shelters' limitations were explained to the community expected to use them. "Hopefully people do understand that these windows do need to be protected if a major hurricane is expected to be coming," he said. Miyamoto said the likelihood is "really high" that the windows will break without storm shutters, and "once those window systems break," he explained, making a toppling motion with his arms, "you cannot just be in there." The roof will "pop off."

When asked if the shelters had come with any storm shutters, Andre Hercule, director of Saint Thérèse de Darbonne elementary school, which has also received Clinton trailers, shook his head, then grabbed the nearest open trailer window and effortlessly slid it shut. Clicking it locked, he explained, "We'd close all the windows." The school director remains confident after hearing Clinton speak at a news conference in August 2010 at his school that the trailers are hurricane-proof.

Léogâne's Department of Civil Protection may also be operating on this assumption. At the Léogâne town hall, a derelict white paint-chipped building that looks stately in contrast to the seventeen-month-old tent camp nearby, DCP coordinator Philippe Joseph explained the municipality's plans for community outreach in the event of a hurricane. "We'll send scouts with megaphones and tell people to gather their papers and go to the Clinton Foundation shelters," he said as he sketched a rough map, indicating the best routes to the dual-purpose school buildings from the geographic zones most vulnerable to storms.

Asked if he believed the trailers would offer adequate protection during a hurricane, Joseph seemed taken aback: Clinton had himself said that these were hurricane-proof shelters, he said.

In a jungly field on the outskirts of Léogâne, four of the twenty Clinton classrooms sit empty at another school, Coeur de Jesus. Because of the trailers' leaky roofs, puddles form on the floor that need to be mopped up by the maintenance staff. As school director Antoine Beauvais explained, the new sixteen-by-forty-foot trailers were too bulky to fit in the cramped residential area where his school was previously located. But for lack of toilet facilities or running water provided by the foundation for the newly created remote campus, the school has been unable to use its new trailer classrooms.

When The Nation visited the site with Miyamoto, at least one strap on a trailer slated to be used as a hurricane shelter in the coming months was already loose. As Miyamoto moved the slack metal ribbon that is meant to ensure the trailer stays stable during a storm, the structural engineer remarked that these kinds of anchoring systems are liable to corrode. "You definitely want to look at it at least once a year," he said grimly.

It's unclear whether such maintenance will occur. Clayton Homes recently visited some of the schools after the International Organization for Migration, which works with the UN, raised concerns about the condition of the shelters. However, Conille said he did not know anything about plans the Clinton Foundation had made for the maintenance of the "hurricane shelters" in the longer term. The Haitian contractor who was initially hired to help install the shelters, Philippe Cinéas of AC Construction, said that neither he nor his staff were trained to service them. This raised concerns for Cinéas because, as he knew from experience, "in Haiti maintenance is always a problem."

While Clinton Foundation COO Laura Graham claims that the foundation has always been "very accessible" to the school and municipal officials in Léogâne, neither the school directors nor the civil protection coordinator had any way of getting in touch with the foundation, they told The Nation, and had to resort to going through intermediaries.

Joseph, the DCP chief for Léogâne, faults the trailer project for being decided from afar and "from the top down," like so much of Haiti relief. While the Clinton Foundation claims that it worked with local government to implement the shelter plan, Joseph disputes this. The foundation simply informed him that it was building four schools in his district, he says. "To me this is not a consultation," the local official remarked. "To consult people you have to ask them what they need and how they think it could best be implemented."

Joseph ascribes the new shelters' "infernal" heat, humidity and other problems to this lack of on-the-ground consultation. He added, with regret, that people in desperate need of employment and shelters watched as "the Clinton Foundation came in with all its specialists and equipment, but they didn't give any training." He said that "if they use a local firm they will not only create jobs in a community that has been decapitalized by the quake but they will also take into account the environmental reality on the ground."

In the proposal approved by the IHRC, the Clinton Foundation said that "up to 300 local workers would be employed to build the schools." Cinéas said there were only five to eight people hired by his firm on a very temporary basis, and the foundation declined to comment on what additional jobs were created.

Farmer, the Clinton envoy, recently published a report on trends in Haiti's dysfunctional aid system. He stressed the need for "accompaniment" to be the guiding principle of Haiti's reconstruction, with Haitians "in the driver's seat" and the international community listening to their priorities. Farmer also emphasized the importance of local procurement and job creation.

It is hard to imagine a better case study of the very opposite approach than the Clinton trailers. In response to questions about what due diligence the foundation did to ensure the safety of the trailers it purchased for use as hurricane shelters, the Clinton Foundation initially insisted that the most appropriate person to speak to was a Haitian employee of Clinton's UN Office. When Graham, the foundation's COO, finally agreed to talk about the project on the record, she denied that the foundation had been responsible for any due diligence regarding its own project, claiming that those responsible were a "panel of experts," including one point person from the foundation, Greg Milne, and representatives of other organizations. (Milne referred all questions to the foundation's press office.) The Clinton Foundation agreed to furnish documentation of who was on this panel but by press time had not done so.

Graham said that the staff of the Clinton Foundation — which has for more than a year publicized the "hurricane shelters" that "President Clinton" built in Léogâne — are "not experts" in hurricane shelter construction. She claimed the same "panel of experts" would have been responsible for due diligence to ensure air quality of the shelters whose secondary purpose was as classrooms.

Explaining Bill Clinton's rationale for the trailers, which were installed at the tail end of the 2010 hurricane season, Conille said, "It was not meant to be sustainable. It was meant because we didn't want to have dead people in September." According to Conille, Clinton was deeply troubled by what would happen to the women and children in case of a serious storm — and as the former president felt that "no one" was doing anything about the issue, he took the lead himself. Moreover, Clinton didn't want to have his new "hurricane shelters" sitting empty while schoolchildren had classes in tents, Conille added.

Yet according to Maddalena, given the high rate of formaldehyde found in one of the classrooms, and the children's headaches, "they'd be better off studying outside under a tarp."

Wall, the former OCHA spokeswoman, responded by e-mail, "We all knew that that project was misconceived from the start, a classic example of aid designed from a distance with no understanding of ground level realities or needs. It has had a predictably long and unhappy history from the start."

Even Conille largely concurred, in a telephone interview, that there were many problems with the project, saying, "It made sense at that time, and I guess someone could argue it wasn't the best idea in retrospect."

For his part, Léogâne Mayor Santos Alexis says he is still waiting for Bill Clinton to follow through on his pledge to equip Léogâne with hurricane-proof school buildings. Asked about his view on the Clinton Foundation's claims to having completed an "Emergency Hurricane Shelter Project" replete with new classrooms for his town, Alexis is defiant. "If those at the Clinton Foundation are sure it's done then they should prove it, they should show it to us, because I know nothing about it," he remarked coyly, gazing out from behind his shades. Seated at his desk in a crumbling municipal building, the mayor said he is still waiting for the real Clinton Foundation schools, "built with norms that protect people from hurricanes and flooding."

This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, with additional support from the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting.

Isabel Macdonald is a freelance journalist and media scholar whose writing on media and politics has appeared in The Guardian, The Nation, Extra!, Huffington Post, AlterNet, Z Magazine and The Toronto Star. She was formerly communications director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

Isabeau Doucet is a visual artist and Port-au-Prince-based freelance producer for Al Jazeera English and reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, the Guardian, The Toronto Star,

ARTICLE - CLINTON GROUP CHECKS SHELTERS

CLINTON GROUP CHECS HAITI SHELTERS AMID CRITICISM
(Boston Globe) - AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Former President Bill Clinton's foundation says it will send experts to Haiti to check storm shelters it donated that reportedly have developed leaks and mold.

Foundation Chief of Staff Laura Graham says the independent experts will evaluate the 20 shelters in the town of Leogane. Graham says any construction deficiencies will be fixed.

Her comments Tuesday follow reports published by The Nation magazine that some shelters were leaking and moldy. It reported that people in the town are upset that the structures lack air conditioning and can't be used as schools.

The foundation says the structures were intended to be emergency storm shelters but local people could use them temporarily as schools if needed.

ARTICLE - TELE HAITI ANNOUNCES ITS' RETURN

TELE HAITI ANNOUNCES ITS RETURN AND NEW SERVICES
(Haiti Libre) -

Seriously damaged by the earthquake of January 2010, Tele Haiti had to suspend its operations. The cable network, announced the early resumption of its operations in the metropolitan area of ​​Port-au-Prince and their launch across the country. A good news for customers, although the date remains to be confirmed.

The company [51 years in Haiti] that leaves the most difficult period in its history, indicated that following a new partnership and a capital injection, significant investments in technology and infrastructure are in progress. "This will not only improve the quality, reliability and coverage of our signal, but also to innovate by offering the possibility of obtaining a set of new services: digital TV + High Speed ​​Internet + phone (Triple Play ) ; High Definition Television (HDTV), DVR (Digital Video Recording). All at a competitive price."

As part of the recovery of these operations, the company specifies that the former subscribers will receive special treatment and ensures that the commitments towards its customers, such as: security deposits and subscription fees paid in advance, if any, will be maintained and regularly honored without additional formalities.

ARTICLE - CAMP SYLVIO CATOR WILL BE EVACUATED

FRIDAY, THE DISPLACED OF CAMP SYLVIO CATOR WILL BE EVACUATED
(Haiti Libre) -

This Friday, July 15, 2011 is the date chosen by the City Council of Port-au-Prince to evacuate the displaced from the camp, which occupies the space around the Stade Sylvio Cator.

After a series of meetings, the Mayor, Muscadin Jean-Yves Jason has indicated to the displaced, the permanent abandonment of their shelters to a new site, located at Boulevard Harry Truman (Bicentenaire) near the premises of the Electricity of Haiti. "Mayor Jason told us, you must either willingly or by force, leave the space Friday for the necessary follow-up", have reported some displaced on the site.

For his part, Charles Delson, the Spokesman of the camp committee, indicated that the IDPs are ready to evacuate the place through "accompanying measures, that allow displaced people to live in dignity [...] We have the right to be relocated to a healthy environment and not in an area likely to aggravate our situation."

While the mayor estimated as 40, the number of families living around the stadium, the figure provided by the Camp Committee exceeds 500 families. "We conducted our census in the night and we counted 514 families," says the Committee.

The displaced fear that once evacuated, they will be abandoned. "We are very concerned about the evacuation announced by the mayor of Port-au-Prince, who intends to act in many ways as the City Council of Delmas did last May. People expelled were abandoned to their fate and have received nothing to date" complained a young mother living near the stadium. "In 48 hours, the authorities will be able to install us at Bicentenaire, where nothing is installed to welcome us ....] Transfer us during the rainy season; transfer us to Bicentenaire, near swamps and the sea, will protect us more?. These are the questions raised by the displaced who say that they had received the day before, a visit from President Michel Martelly who assured his support.

ARTICLE - OPERATION PHOENIX

BEGINNING OF "OPERATION PHOENIX" IN PORT-AU-PRINCE
(Haiti Libre) -

Today, military troops of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), supported by the United Nations Police (UNPOL), the United Nations Formed Police Unit (FPU) jointly with the Haitian National Police (PNH) have launched "Operation Phoenix" to secure key areas in Port-au-Prince neighborhoods. The multi-day operation combines a large deployment of forces and Civil and Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities.

"Early today, we sent more than 2,100 peacekeepers into the neighborhoods of Cité Soleil, Martissant and Bel Air to disrupt criminal activity. Once our security operations are complete, MINUSTAH will be undertaking multiple CIMIC activities with the residents," said Maj. Gen. Luiz Ramos, MINUSTAH Force Commander. "These CIMIC activities include clearing debris and garbage from the streets, setting up dental and medical health care clinics, and engineering works and road improvements in Port-au–Prince."

Lead battalions involved in Operation Phoenix include the Sri Lankan Battalion and the First and Second Brazilian Battalions (BRABAT 1 and BRABAT 2) but every unit (ground, maritime and air) were tasked in some way to support Operation Phoenix.

There should be no significant interruption of movement for the residents of Port-au-Prince, according to the military component Chief of Staff, Col. Steve Charpentier.

The intent of Operation Phoenix is to assist the Haitian authorities in providing security and stability for the people in the Port-au-Prince area. "We want to show the population that MINUSTAH, according to its mandate, remains determined to fight against crime in Haiti, in support of Haitian authorities. Very importantly, we want to show the Haitian people MINUSTAH’s commitment to bringing them rule of law", Maj. Gen. Luiz Ramos underscored.

"This will be a multi-day operation that is designed to provide long-term presence in these neighborhoods to reinforce trust and confidence between the residents, PNH and MINUSTAH", added Ramos.

ARTICLE - PM CHOICE HOLDS UP HAITI RECOERY

WRANGLE OVER PRIME MINISTER HOLDS UP HAITI RECOVERY
(Reuters) - By Joseph Guyler Delva

* Pop-star-turned-president in tussle with parliament

* Impasse delays urgent post-quake reconstruction moves

* Diplomats, donors impatient to have government in place

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Two months after taking office with a promise to "wake up" Haiti, President Michel Martelly is battling to install a new government and the urgent task of rebuilding from last year's earthquake is on hold.

Lawmakers have opposed his choices for prime minister in an early run-in with Haiti's messy political reality for the shaven-headed former pop star and novice president elected in March. He has promised to rebrand his nation from a development basket case into a Caribbean success story.

Diplomats and donors say the Western Hemisphere's poorest state desperately needs a new administration in place to advance recovery from the 2010 quake that killed tens of thousands and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince.

"As long as there is not agreement on the prime minister we are completely stuck," said Roland Van Hauwermeirin, country director in Haiti for international humanitarian agency Oxfam.

Oxfam says Haiti's leaders urgently need to relocate more than 600,000 quake survivors still living under tents and tarpaulins. This requires swift decisions to resolve land tenure obstacles and approve resettlement housing projects.

Other pressing tasks to be dealt with are a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 5,500 people since October and the threat of life-threatening winds, floods and landslides as the annual hurricane season moves toward its active phase.

A parliament dominated by supporters of the country's previous president last month rejected Martelly's first pick for premier. Lawmakers are also opposing his second selection -- Bernard Gousse, a former justice minister.

Gousse, accused by critics of once leading a crackdown against backers of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was to present his credentials to the Senate for review on Thursday.

But 16 members of the 30-seat Senate have already signed a public statement saying they oppose Gousse as prime minister. Martelly said if Gousse was not accepted as premier, putting a new government in place could take six months.

"We have the hurricane season and the cholera epidemic to deal with. I need to deliver the promises I made to the population," Martelly said this week after cutting short a visit to Europe to tackle the institutional impasse.

Huge expectations surrounded Martelly's March 20 election after his tough-talking populist campaign promises to improve life for Haitians won over voters weary with Haiti's crushing widespread poverty and bickering, self-enriching politicians.

His whirlwind campaign was heavily driven by his popularity as a successful star of Haiti's catchy Konpa carnival music.

DONORS DISMAYED

"Now that Martelly is on the inside, he's starting to see how difficult it really is to govern Haiti," Robert Maguire, professor of international affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University in Washington, told Reuters. "When you're the "president of Konpa" that's one thing, when you're president of the country, that's a different thing."

"If this starts to tumble down into demonstrations in the street ... then we're in a big heap of trouble," Maguire said.

The concern about the political deadlock appears to be shared by major donors such as the United States, which invested considerable funds and active diplomacy into steering through the often chaotic Haitian elections which were roiled by serious fraud charges.

"To decide on future projects, we need a counterpart, a Haitian government that we don't have now ... we are impatient to work in cooperation with a new government," U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten said this week.

There were some signs that Martelly might be able to shift the blame for the government paralysis onto parliament, presenting lawmakers as selfish spoilers seeking to preserve their political power when the country needed action.

When Martelly strolled back on foot to his palace after visiting parliament on Wednesday, supporters chanted criticism of lawmakers and shouted: "We need a government now." (Additional reporting in Miami and writing by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

ARTICLE - HAITI LAW FIRM URGES INVESTIGATION

HAITI LAW FIRM URGES LAWMAKERS TO INVESTIGATION OF ALLEGATIONS AGAINST PRESIDENT'S PICK FOR PM
(Washington Post) - AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE - A Haitian law firm is urging the legislature to
investigate President Michel Martelly's new pick for prime minister over
allegations he committed crimes as a justice minister.

The International Bureau of Lawyers says it has filed a petition with
lawmakers asking them to investigate nominee Bernard Gousse.

Human rights groups have accused Gousse of persecuting supporters of former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

They allege he is guilty of false imprisonment and being an accomplice to
murder during his time as justice minister in the interim government that
took office after a violent rebellion in 2004 drove Aristide out of Haiti.

The law firm announced its appeal to lawmakers Wednesday.

ARTICLE - MARTELLY DENOUNCES SENATORS

MARTELLY DENOUNCES SENATORS' LACK OF DECORUM TOWARDS PRIME MINISTER PICK
(Defend Haiti) - By Orlando Aurelien

PORT-AU-PRINCE - The Head of the Haitian State, Michel Martelly, is amazed by the petition of 16 senators calling for the withdrawal of the candidature of Mr. Bernard Gousse for the post of Prime Minister. He qualified this action as inelegant and not in conformity with the Haitian constitution.

Reiterating his support of Mr. Gousse, the Head of State stressed the need for continuing the constitutional process of ratification. He stated that the action of the 16 senators is contrary to the correspondence of the president of the Chairman of the Senate body, inviting Mr. Gousse to file his dossier in the Senate.

Mr. Gousse will file his case Tuesday in Parliament confirms President Martelly.
(** it has not been filed yet**). Commenting on the petition of Parliament from most members of the Inite party, president Martelly believes that this could be an effort to weaken him. Rather than to be weakened I would prefer to resign, but I will remain in power since I have a 5 year mandate, he insists.

Responding to questions from journalists, the Haitian President argued that parliamentarians had selected three individuals from a list of 10 that had been submitted. Having ruled out 7 people, I was sure that the members were prepared to accept one of three names submitted, he argued.

President Martelly is confident on the chances that Mr. Bernard Gousse will be ratified as Prime Minister. Martelly revealed that the "Liaison Committee" had reported 18 senators willing to ratify the Prime Minister-designate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

IF WE'VE EVER NEEDED YOU

ARTICLE - HAITI URGED TO LAY OUT HOUSING PLAN

AID GROUP URGES HAITI TO LAY OUT HOUSING PLAN
(AP) - By Trenton Daniel

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti's new president needs to lay out a long-term plan to relocate tens of thousands of Haitians living under tents and tarps, international aid group Oxfam said Tuesday.

The statement comes on the 18-month anniversary of the powerful earthquake that flattened much of Port-au-Prince and surrounding cities, which authorities say killed 300,000 and sent even more to live in impromptu settlements.

Efforts to dismantle the camps that popped up in the capital's public plazas, soccer fields and streets have been put on hold as the new government led by President Michel Martelly struggles to get a prime minister approved by lawmakers. There are 634,000 people still living in the camps, the U.N.'s shelter committee said in May.

"We want a comprehensive approach done in an appropriate time frame," said Cinta Pluma, a spokeswoman for Oxfam. Haiti's displaced population "needs to be consulted and participate in the project."

Patrick Rouzier, a reconstruction and housing adviser to the president, said the government plans to relocate 25,000 to 30,000 people from six major camps.

"I understand Oxfam's position but we have a comprehensive plan that we are finalizing," Rouzier said by telephone. "This has been in the works for the past three months. ... We are on it 100 percent."

Rouzier said the pilot project will bring camp dwellers back into their original neighborhoods but with better services.

In a separate project, Martelly unveiled a housing effort last month in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. It seeks to build 400 houses in 100 days.

Forced evictions by private landowners have increased since the earthquake, advocacy and aid groups say. In June, as the hurricane season officially began, the mayor of a city in the Port-au-Prince area evicted hundreds of people from three camps. Advocacy groups called for a moratorium on the evictions until alternative housing was provided.

Oxfam said Martelly has made progress by laying out housing plans, but that his government can't evict camp dwellers without providing an alternative. The closing of the camps must be done so that the newly displaced have access to drinking water, sanitation services, health care, education and employment opportunities, Oxfam said.

The new administration has failed to make much headway since Martelly was inaugurated almost two months ago. Lawmakers rejected Martelly's first pick for prime minister, which means the government has remained in limbo. Some of them have openly said they will reject his second pick, a former justice minister whom advocacy groups accused of persecuting political opponents.

ARTICLE - IICA STRATEGY FOR THE CARIBBEAN

IICA HIGHLIGHTS 2010-2014 STRATEGY FOR THE CARIBBEAN REGION AT OAS
(Bahamas Islands Info) - By Alejandra Chaves

WASHINGTON, DC - “IICA belongs to the Member States, and our staff will continue to work together to tackle the challenges facing agriculture development in the 21st century. This certainly includes the Caribbean region.” reaffirmed Victor M. Villalobos, Director General of the Inter- American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) as he highlighted key priorities of the Institute’s Caribbean Strategy 2010-2014.

During a breakfast held at the Organization of American States (OAS), and before Ambassadors and officials to the Missions of the OAS from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Villalobos summarized IICA’s approach to support its Member States in their efforts to realize the Millennium Development Goals. He explained, “The strategy takes into consideration the environmental instability and vulnerability of the Caribbean Region due to changes in climate, which has resulted in more frequent and intense hurricanes, drought and flooding, fluctuations in rainfall and declining availability of water; which all of pose a threat to agriculture and rural life in the region,”

According to Villalobos, the plan has four principal objectives: 1) to improve sanitary conditions for plants and animals; 2) to promote and increase agriculture production; 3) to promote and increase agribusiness and agricultural tourism and 4) to address climate change concerns for the countries.

In addition to the principal objectives, the Villalobos Administration also aims to implement practices including how best to work with the regional research body, the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI); how best to implement the Jagdeo Initiative, the framework for agriculture development in the Caribbean and how to most effectively invest IICA’s US $33.3 million dollar operating budget, to name a few.

“All our efforts are geared towards the achievement of competitive and sustainable agriculture,” underscored Villalobos as he explained the recently launched General Directorate’s Competitive Fund for Technical Cooperation Projects. “This initiative is a mechanism which among other results will make it possible to attract external funds to IICA Director General. Victor M. Villalobos, addresses CARICOM countries at the OAS in Washington, DC. finance technical cooperation which IICA provides.” He urged participants of the gathering to consider using the mechanism to further agriculture at their country.

The IICA 2010-2014 Strategy will be implemented in fourteen Caribbean member countries, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

ARTICLE - VRBANOVIC - SIGNS OF HOPE

VRBANOVIC SEES SIGNS OF HOPE IN HAITI DURING POLITICAL MISSION
(The Record) - By Brent Davis

Poverty and despair have always found a home in Haiti.

The devastating earthquake 18 months ago that killed tens of thousands and displaced countless others only cemented their footing.

But, as Kitchener councillor and Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Berry Vrbanovic is discovering in his first visit to the country, there are signs of hope.

Earlier this week, Vrbanovic visited two relief camps. One holds 52,000 people in “substandard living conditions,” he said. The other, a newer one, has more permanent homes and a semblance of order.

“It was like night and day,” Vrbanovic said in a telephone interview.

For several months, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been working in Haiti with a number of partners, including the city of Montreal and the federation’s counterparts in Quebec, France and the Netherlands.

Various projects aim to help local governments in Haiti rebuild and better deliver essential services such as water and garbage collection. It’s hoped that the lessons learned on a park revitalization project or the restoration of a soccer field, for example, will continue to serve the Haitian municipalities down the road.

“Our focus is on sharing municipal expertise,” Vrbanovic said.

On this five-day trip, Vrbanovic is accompanying representatives from the various partners as they visit field offices and project locations, sign partnership agreements and participate in political meetings.

The Canadian contribution to the two-and-a-half-year partnership is valued at about $8.9 million, with $6.9 million coming from the Canadian International Development Agency and the rest coming in-kind from municipalities as they send elected officials and staff to assist.

“The legacy behind the projects is that they are sustainable,” Vrbanovic said.

The federation has been participating in “capacity-building” projects around the world for the past 25 years, he said. Some of the work comes in the wake of natural disasters, such as in Haiti and following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

“(The Federation) is not going to solve the problems of Haiti on its own,” Vrbanovic said. “But if we can make a small difference in a few communities, it will be a step forward.”

ARTICLE - INSURANCE SYSTEM BADLY SHAKEN

HAITIAN INSURANCE BADLY SHAKEN
(Star Tribune) - By Kara McGuire

Jaki Gardner, a career insurance regulator, took her expertise from Minnesota to Haiti to help rebuild its insurance system post-earthquake

Jaki Gardner spends her working days in Minnesota making sure consumers here never go through what Haiti experienced. On top of the destruction and loss from the devastating earthquake, many Haitians were left homeless, lacking adequate insurance on their ruined property or stuck with policies from insolvent insurance companies.

Gardner, an assistant commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, used her expertise as a member of a five-person team of volunteer experts sent to investigate the health of Haiti's insurance companies this spring. The team came together through the Financial Services Volunteer Corps, a nonprofit made up of economists, accountants and other financial professionals who help in developing countries. In Minnesota, Gardner is in charge of making sure insurance companies licensed in the state have the ability to pay claims.

Q Why was your team sent to Haiti?

A We were there to assess the insurance industry and its financial problems and to find out why they weren't paying claims. We were like a SWAT team. We set up a process where we went into every insurance company -- there's only eight in Haiti -- and we said, 'We want to open up your records and see how much coverage did you provide in this area, and then compare that to how much money you have in reserves.'

Hopefully the reserves are higher than the claims; but that wasn't the case for three companies. The problem was that they had a high concentration of risk, because they were only insuring in Port Au Prince. If all your claims come due on one day, which is the day of that earthquake, that's it. You don't have the cash on hand.

The other five had adequate reinsurance. They were able to mitigate their losses by being insured themselves. The worst of the three that failed had made a conscious decision not to buy reinsurance coverage.

The U.S. regulators wouldn't allow that. That's how you protect your own capital, by reinsuring the losses and spreading that risk out.

In three weeks' time, we went into every insurance company, assessed their financial position, assessed their losses that had accumulated and were unpaid, assessed the status of the insurance company itself, and put together a plan to give to the Ministry of Finance to tell them what they probably should do.

Q So what did you recommend?

A We recommended that they put together a disaster relief fund, and that they use the money to make loans to the insurance companies to pay their claims at a favorable interest rate. For families, they're hopefully going to get some of that money through a building effort. In other words, we'll rebuild your property and then we'll give you a low interest loan for the difference between what is your insurance coverage and what it's going to cost to rebuild. Before we left there, they put $10 million in.

Q Did most Haitians have adequate insurance coverage?

A No. The main risk of a catastrophe in Haiti, they thought, would have been a hurricane, so they had a lot of wind insurance coverage. But an earthquake hit. Homes got toppled and if they did have property coverage it was a total loss, but they didn't have enough coverage. So they can't rebuild. They didn't have replacement coverage.

You've got to teach the people how to buy insurance and what their coverage should be because if you're underinsured, it doesn't do you any good.

Q What are the differences between the insurance market in Haiti and in the U.S.?

A One thing the Haitian industry did not have were standardized reporting requirements. They don't have to file financial statements. Nobody knows if they have money or not. And they're family-run. They're private entities, so there's no stockholders. There's no accountability.

Our companies have to report to us, the regulator, on a quarterly basis what their financial condition is. We're checking to make sure they have security in place to cover those potential losses. Companies have to be licensed.

Here in the United States, if a company goes bust, we have a guaranty association that would pick up the pieces. They don't have that, and the families formed limited liability corporations that protect their personal wealth. So when the company went belly up, they just said, 'I'm gone, I'm out of here.'

Q What appealed to you about the Haiti trip?

A I'm a minority. I want minority people to see minority professionals, and I want them to see that their help can come from within. I was interested in having them see me in a position of assistance in a professional area that's a very unique and specialized field.

I also have this life plan. The first score of my life was educating myself. The second score of my life was career-building. The third score of my life is childrearing and my fourth score I want to be volunteer service. This is a good way for me to launch into that volunteerism in a field that I know.

I am now putting together my own insurance professional team to volunteer two weeks of our time every year to go on a project with the Financial Services Volunteer Corps.

ARTICLE - A FUTURE WITHOUT A UN PRESENCE

ENVISAGE THE FUTURE OFTHE COUNTRY WITHOUT THE UN PRESENCE?
(Haiti Libre) -

Edmond Mulet recently returned to his former post of Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, after more than a year in Haiti as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah), leaving the place at the head of the Mission to the Chilean diplomat Mariano Fernández Amunátegui (66 years).

An interview with the UN News Center (UNC) allowed us to learn more about Edmond Mulet, [often maligned, rightly or wrongly] and his vision of our country in the event of the departure of the UN.

UNC: What did you do before you joined the United Nations ?

Edmond Mulet : "At my age (66), you can imagine I’ve done many, many things in my lifetime. My first work was when I was ten years old, working for a daily newspaper in Guatemala. I worked as a proof-reader, as a reporter, and then I had a column. Then I studied law and became a lawyer. I was very much involved in the struggle against the military dictatorships in Guatemala, and I was in jail a couple of times. I had to leave Guatemala – my home country – because of threats. I participated in elections, knowing that I would lose, or knowing that the results would not be the real ones. I lost some elections, won some elections. One day, I won an election and the next day there was a coup d’etat and they cancelled the whole thing.

Finally in 1985, I was elected to the Guatemalan congress and I was re-elected in 1990. In 1992, I was the president of the National Assembly in Guatemala. A year later I was appointed ambassador to the United States. I went back to Guatemala after three years, and I was Secretary-General of my political party. I was involved in legal issues, and I had my own legal office. I was appointed ambassador to the European Union in Brussels. I was there for five and a half years. And then I was recruited to come to the UN."

UNC: Can you see a day when there won’t be a UN peacekeeping presence in Haiti ?

Edmond Mulet : "It depends on the capacity of the Haitians themselves and the Haitian institutions to absorb all of what we’re doing to build these institutions. We have been building the Haitian National police capacities. The goal was to reach 14,000-15,000 of them and right now we’re near 10,000 and I must say that the Haitian National Police are probably the best well-regarded institution by the Haitians themselves. Very well structured, very disciplined. The problem they have in Haiti is that they don’t have the resources, not even to pay the Haitian National Police their salaries.

So when will MINUSTAH be leaving depends very much on their own capacity to develop their assumed responsibilities and those capacities. And everything in the end is tied up to the economic situation. If they have national and international investment, job creation, economic activities, and the state is able to collect taxes in order to pay for services for the state, then I think there’s a way out.

Many people ask: “what is a peacekeeping mission doing in Haiti? There’s no internal conflict, there’s no guerrilla movement, there’s no civil war, there’s no conflict with any neighbouring country, there’s no border issue with anybody else, there’s no ethnic conflict, there’s no religious conflict, there’s no conflict for natural resources like with other places in the world like Congo for example. Haiti doesn’t have oil, no diamonds, no coltan, nor anything else, so what is a peacekeeping mission doing in a place like Haiti?”

The Security Council doesn’t have another tool to face a situation of a failed state, so we are there like a backbone of a country, creating the space and the opportunities for other actors on the development side, the economic side, on the social side, for them to build those capacities in the future.

Our proposal right now is to create a contract for Haiti, a compact – civil society, private sector, Haitian government, international community – with very clear goals, responsibilities, and obligations and with a follow-up mechanism; and see if the Haitians are doing what we expect them to do, assuming responsibilities, and us – the international community – delivering on our promises of aid, assistance, money. But we have to tie the whole thing up around the concept of the rule of law. And rule of law is not only police, it’s not only courts, it’s not only corrections. In Haiti it’s also the issue of a civil registry, of a land registry, of functioning courts – creating the conditions and the guarantees for investors to create economic activity and break this vicious circle of assistance and donations and subsidies. I think that we have to help them to be self-sufficient in many ways and these are some of the benchmarks of the mission there.

We will be conducting an assessment in June-July of the security-political situation in Haiti. We should draw down to the levels we had before the earthquake for the military and police components, and then we’ll see how everything goes."

ARTICLE - POSTAL SERVICES ARE IMPROVING

THE POSTAL SERVICES ARE IMPROVING
(Haiti Libre) -

One year on from a new mail sorting centre opening in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, the Post Office is showing signs of recovery. Some 87 employees work in the capital's main postal centre, which processes all incoming and outgoing mail. The facility, a 600-square meter tent-like structure, was built with the help of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and its member countries. "We are very happy to have this centre, which helps us provide services to the population. Little by little we are organizing ourselves," says the Post's director general, Edvard Despeignes. "We receive more mail than is sent out. Monthly, we are seeing a 4-per cent increase in volume."

Dedicated employees continue to face tremendous challenges to keep the mail moving, but their working conditions are beginning to improve. Earlier this year, they finally received salaries thanks to a government loan. The Post had not been able to pay some staff for more than six months. Others working in the provinces were owed more than a year's salary... "The loan enabled us to pay arrears and pension contributions, so employees about to retire will be able to claim their pensions," explained Despeignes. "This has served to motivate employees."

The centre will also soon be equipped with air conditioning units to reduce the Caribbean capital's stifling heat for employees as they work. The Postal Union of the Americas, Spain and Portugal is financing this project.

Meanwhile, the UPU has been working with Haiti Post on several other projects financed by resources from the Quality of Service Fund (QSF) and member-country donations. South Korea's donation of USD$100,000 from its QSF reserves financed the purchase of two mail vans in 2010. Haiti is also using its own QSF credits to buy other equipment, such as computers, franking machines and stationery. The UPU works closely with the United Nations Development Programme in Haiti on the procurement of all equipment and vehicles.

Loretta Charlemagne, the UPU's regional project coordinator for the Caribbean, will travel to Port-au-Prince on July 11 for a one-week mission. She will follow up on projects undertaken, visit the mail processing centre and hold discussions with UNDP officials to identify additional means that could be used to develop the national postal network. She will also help develop a new QSF project, to be financed using a USD$51,000 contribution by Iran and Rwanda.

Haiti Post employs close to 500 employees.

ARTICLE - NEW MAGISTRACY RESEARCH CENTER

NEW RESEARCH CENTER FOR THE MAGISTRACY
(Haiti Libre) -

The Representative of Ban Ki-Moon, Ms. Kyung-Wha Kang, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mr. Kesner Michel Thermesi, the Director General of the School of Magistrates of Haiti (EMA),have inaugurated this week the new research center "Rock Cadet" of the EMA.

Like other key institutions of the country, justice suffers from a lack of credibility and efficiency. Mr. Thermesi thinks that the time has come to better train the actors of the judicial system. "The establishment of this center will allow future judges to be more efficient in the exercise of their duties."

"This is a tool of great value for managers and students of EMA, because it will allow them to have a better understanding of international treaties signed by Haiti", said Ms. Kang.

With its recent reference works, conference rooms and a computer lab, it will allow to give continuous training to upgrade the knowledge of judges who work in the system for several years. This will be an asset to the judicial authorities, since this sector has few suitably qualified executives.

This research center, has been possible thanks to a cooperation between EMA and the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. Canada, the United States, France, the European Union and several UN agencies, have made ​​financial contributions and worked on the development of this library.

Ms. Kang, recognized the multiple efforts made by the Haitian authorities to raise the level of justice and has pledged her full support to Haitian officials.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

photos - ysmaille's children's program - part 1

Ysmaille is a friend of Coram Deo. He has a welding business and also helps out different missions with their relief efforts. Ysmaille is a Haitian man who loves Haiti and his people. Since the earthquake he has been involved in relief efforts. One of the activities is working in a refuge camp with children.


As you can see, it is difficult for children to play in the cramped quarters that they live in.


This is Ysmaille and his son.


Every Saturday morning he goes to a certain refuge camp and holds a children's program for the children in the camp.


These 2 Haitian women pictured assist him in organizing activities for the children.

photos - ysmaille's children's program - part 2

They get the children moving and playing.


It is good to give the children a break from camp life and give them fun things to do.


Tim Bos went with Ysmaille a couple of weeks ago to meet the children in the program and took these photos.


Children of different age groups came for a time of play and interaction with other children.


The women who led the children in games and activities have a lot of energy!

photos - ysmaille's children's program - part 3

The children enjoyed laughing at each other's movements.


Some children were more hesitant than others to participate.


This is one movement game that got everyone involved!


The children had a lot of fun.



Playtime is taken for granted here in Canada. In the camps play time needs to be scheduled and a place needs to be found to gve the children a place to have fun. This building was constructed in the camp specifically to give the children this opportunity. Unicef especially has been involved in these types of activities. They call these areas "play spaces".

photos - ysmaille's children's program - part 4

Ysmaille is assing out soft balls for the children to throw to (at) each other.


Here he is demonstrating.


It didn't take long for the children to get involved.


It is good to see smiling children living in difficult circumstances!


This mother came with her young daughter to watch.

photos - ysmaille's children's program - part 5

They brought out the muti-colored parachute for the children. Everyone grabbed a portion by the hand.


They did some fun movements with the large parachute cloth.


Ysmaille told everyone to close their eyes.


This girl is laughing with her eyes closed.



They had fun shaking the parachute cloth. When it was high one of the children would run underneath it.

photos - ysmailles' children's program - part 6

Even the youngest children got involved in the fun.


One of the bigger children sat in the middle of the parachute.


Everyone lifted her up into the air.


Other children who were daring participated too. This boy enjoyed his ride on the parachute cloth!



A bunch ofthe younger ones went on all at once. Pray for Ysmaille and the others who help him each Saturday to bring some joy and fun into the children's lives. The children look forward to his visits and he is warmly greeted by everyone as he walks through the camps.

ARTICLE - FIGHTING THE RISE IN CHOLERA CASES

FIGHTING THE RISE IN CHOLERA CASES IN HAITI
(AlerteNet) - Source WHO

There was a rise in the number of cholera cases reported in May and early June, particularly around Port-au-Prince and in the southern peninsula (Grand Anse, Nippes, Sud and Sud-Est) as well as in Artibonite and Nord. This increase may be due in part to the beginning of the rainy season and the flooding that hit the capital. Between 2 May and 12 June, 18 182 new cases were notified in Port-au-Prince, where 90% of the 2300 beds in cholera treatment facilities were occupied. As of 21 June, the occupancy rate had dropped to 72%.

On 12 June, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 344 623 cases of cholera and 5397 related deaths (average case fatality rate 1.6%) since the beginning of the outbreak in October 2010.

Poor access to clean water and proper sanitation remains the main challenge in fighting the epidemic. Water-trucking is now down to 20% of what it was after the earthquake. According to the Water and Sanitation Cluster, about a third of the NGOs supporting camps in Port-au-Prince will be closing down their water-trucking and sewage removal activities over the next few months because funds are running out. Lack of sanitation facilities and the maintenance of existing latrines remain critical problems in the camps. WHO/PAHO supports all cholera treatment facilities to ensure safe water is available for patients and sanitation measures are respected.

According to Health Cluster partners, as of 14 June there were 38 cholera treatment centres and 216 cholera treatment units functioning in Haiti. Most of the facilities are financed by NGOs. While support continues in Port-au-Prince, many NGOs are scaling down operations in rural areas and transferring responsibilities to the MoPH, which does not have sufficient funds to cover health personnel.

WHO/PAHO is asking partners to consider keeping staff and facilities in place, and international donors to continue their support for these activities. WHO/PAHO supports the MoPH to keep some facilities operational.

Approximately 60 NGOs are working within the Health Cluster to respond to the cholera outbreak.

Transportation of patients is a challenge, especially severe cases from rural areas requiring rapid referral to a medical facility. WHO/PAHO, the French Red Cross, the MOPH, the Haitian Red Cross, and the NGO Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA) have established a network of 11 vehicles for referral and dedicated another two vehicles and trained teams for the management of dead bodies.

The central pharmacy warehouse run by the MoPH and WHO/PAHO has in-stock medication to treat over 350 000 cholera cases (37 000 severe cases and 313 000 mild cases).

The Dominican Republic has also experienced an increase in cholera cases over the past month. These cases coincide with the rainy season and rising temperatures. On 12 June, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 1727 confirmed cases (191 in 2010 and 1536 in 2011) and 46 related deaths since the beginning of the outbreak at the end of 2010. The MoPH continues to work on improving water quality and sanitation services and educating the public on prevention.

The Health Cluster requested US$ 135.6 million from international donors to support the Consolidated Appeal (which includes cholera-related activities) in Haiti, of which US$ 40.1 million were requested by WHO. As of 1 June, it had received US$ 48 million or 35% of the money requested. WHO's activities have been funded at 49%.

ARTICLE - CHOLERA AND SATELLITE IMAGES

IMAGES MAY HELP PREDICT THE NEXT CHOLERA OUTBREAK
(Huffington Post) - By Lynne Peeples

As cholera continues to ravage parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America -- reportedly reaching Puerto Rico and Hong Kong this week -- public health researchers are looking to the skies in hopes of anticipating future outbreaks.

Satellite images of the oceans, researchers say, could soon forecast where and when cholera is most likely to strike.

Certain developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Mozambique, already know to expect the unwelcome visitor almost every year and typically have measures in place to minimize its impact. Cholera's recent arrival in Haiti and Pakistan, however, caught the nations by surprise. It had been a century since either faced an outbreak of the disease, which causes severe diarrhea and a 50 percent chance of death due to dehydration if not treated quickly.

According to Shafiqul Islam, an expert in environmental engineering and water diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., this left the Haitian people vulnerable and their health officials unprepared. Over 6 percent of Haitians initially infected succumbed to cholera, compared to just 0.1 percent of victims in Bangladesh.

"That's amazing, and extremely troubling," said Islam, highlighting the similarly poor economic conditions in the two nations and the fact that cholera has such an easy and cheap cure: clean water with some sugar and salt.

If Haiti had been warned a couple of months in advance to prepare large quantities of this simple solution, along with other treatments and vaccines, it might have been a different story, Islam said.

Ever since John Snow first identified cholera in London 150 years ago, researchers have focused primarily on understanding the microbiology of the bacteria, Vibrio cholera, and how to help the human body combat it.

Despite substantial progress made on this front, the disease continues to be a global threat, affecting 3 to 5 million people annually and killing more than 100,000 of its victims, according to the World Health Organization. Experts don't expect it to go away any time soon.

But if science takes a step back to evaluate the timing and places that can set the stage for a cholera epidemic, suggested Islam, we might better coexist with the stubborn strains.

"If you can use this information to make a prediction, then you can mobilize the necessary resources," he said.

In a study published in the the May issue of Water Resources Research, Islam and his colleagues describe how large-scale environmental conditions can be conducive to the initiation, transmission and propagation of cholera.

The team looked at data from Bengal Delta in Bangladesh, identifying two annual peaks for cholera cases: one in the spring and one in the fall.

The first peak appeared to be triggered by a "low flow," in which long-term drought conditions resulted in a mix of salt and fresh water off the Bangladesh coast. Cholera thrives in such brackish conditions, where it hitches rides on tiny marine mammals called zooplankton. These hosts can multiply rapidly over a period of a couple of months -- especially when stimulated by an algal bloom -- and eventually introduce cholera to coastal cities via seafood or drinking water.

A few months later, just as an affected region is sighing a breath of relief for a waning outbreak, the heavy rains and flooding of monsoon season can revive and spread cholera bacteria inland. This second peak is most common in regions with poor water and sewer systems. (A total of 44 cases of cholera have been reported in the U.S. over the last five years, but good water infrastructure continues to keep the disease in check.)

Although the timing and number of peaks can vary between regions, the components that lead to a cholera outbreak can likely be generalized beyond Bangladesh, suggested Islam.

NASA satellites could identify the chlorophyll abundant in phytoplankton within the Earth's oceans, he explained. Since zooplankton feed on phytoplankton and also carry the toxic bacteria, satellites could be used to develop prediction models that forecast cholera outbreaks two to three months in advance.

"If you want to make predictions, three days or even three weeks in advance is not enough," said Islam. "You need at least two to three months in order to warn the public and allow professionals enough time to get ready."

Satellite monitoring could be even more crucial in the years ahead as current climate models point to both increased drought and severe flooding. "If these models are correct," said Islam, "then cholera will get more intense."

A separate study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene linked a 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in the average monthly minimum temperature to a doubling in the number of cholera cases within four months in Zanzibar, Tanzania.

A substantial increase in cases was also seen two months after a 200-millimeter (7.9-inch) rise in monthly rainfall.

Downpours may not only affect the spread of the disease, but could also help initiate its growth. "In general, warmer sea surface temperatures and a warmer atmosphere lead to increasingly frequent and heavy rain," said Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. "These intense rains can flush nutrients, organisms and chemicals into coastal marine habitat and trigger an algal bloom."

Non-environmental factors may play a role, too. A catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, damaging already poor sanitary systems. That, along with the possible introduction of the bacteria by United Nations peacekeepers, are hypothesized to have played a significant role in the country's outbreak, which first manifested in October.

But Islam doesn't think those factors tell the whole story. A very large earthquake struck Pakistan in 2005, and cholera was not one of the consequences. Meanwhile, when floods struck the same country this year, a massive cholera outbreak did result.

"The right environmental conditions must be present for the disease to spread," explained Islam.

Once a cholera outbreak is predicted for a region, he added, "a multi-pronged approach" should be initiated.

It's not feasible to vaccinate everyone given the $10-to-$15 price tag and limited production. What's more, a dose is only effective for one or two seasons. Antibiotics can help in the fight, noted Epstein, but he highlighted the greater importance of stocking up on clean water, salt and sugar.

Other preparations include protecting and treating the water supply -- often a more long-term solution requiring improvements in the division between water and sewer infrastructure.

Of course, it takes time for any measures to be mobilized. And once the first cases appear, it's often too late. Fortunately, cholera is particularly "amenable to early warning," noted Epstein.

Over the next several years, Islam expects that potential to be realized with the widespread use of satellite-based prediction.

"We hope this will change the game," he said.

ARTICLE - CHOLERA CENTER AT HOPITAL ALBERT SCHWEITZER

Cholera is raging again. Rain and dirty conditions cause the cholera to thrive. Dr. John Carroll has been making trips to Haiti for years working in difficult places to help the Haitian people. He is a dedicated person with a strong heart for the haitian people. This is one of his posts that he has written about the cholera conditions:

A link to a blog is http://blogs.pjstar.com/haiti/author/jcarroll/

Pray for all those who are racing to stop the advance of the cholera epidemic and for financial support for all who are helping in Haiti. The emergency situation continues for 18 months now and the development struggles.
Karen

July 3, 2011

We now have seven cholera tents at the Cholera Treatment Center at Hopital Albert Schweitzer.

They are a dirty white and some say UNICEF on the front flap.

We refer to them by their number. And we say "the guy with the IV in his ankle was just moved to "tent five""; brilliant things like that.

More tents are added all the time for the huge numbers of cholera patients that arrive here each day and need to stay for treatment. We send as many people home as possible each day, but the sickest are kept in the building or in the tents.

The smallest tent has about 8 patients and the largest has 25 patients.

Each tent has green cots placed on jagged rocks. And the cots are so close together that one cannot walk between them. To get to a patient who is not far away, one may take a long convoluted route around other people and cots.

Family members tend to ther sick loved on. They change sheets, and empty their buckets and clean them up. They also provide food when the patient can begin to eat.

And family members hold IV tubing for me, and I stick tape to their arms near me so I can quickly secure the new IV I just placed.

A Haitian nurse is in charge of one or two tents depending on the numbers of nurses and patients. She is in charge of maintaining IVs and passing meds and seeing if people are still breathing.

These tents have helped save the lives of many hundreds of people during the last several weeks.

But.....

When I round in the tents during the day, I cannot stay in the tent for more than five minutes. The heat and humidity are just overwhelming.

After examining a patient or trouble shooting an IV in a tent, I will attempt to chart on the patient?s dossier. And I frequently find myself confused and sometimes don't even know which page to chart on and sometimes find myself writing gibberish notes.

If I step out of the tent to correct and finish my note, I am ok and can re-enter the tent and start on the next patient.

And the patients are in the tents 24 hours per day. I have no idea how they do it especially with acute cholera.

These tents remind me of the tents in Port-au-Prince camps that are "homes" to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people from the earthquake. These tents and camps in the capital are pure hell.

The social dynamics in the cholera tents here at the Cholera Treatment Center are interesting and say a lot about poor Haitian society.

We have one tent just a few feet from the front door of the admission room.

It is a small tent that has about eight cots in it. The people in this tent have been quite ill, all hooked up to IVs, and in different states of consciousness. Their family members hover over them and constantly motion to me and say things to me that drive me crazy, but they need to be said. (My mother can't talk any more, her stomach hurts, her IV is empty, she has a fever, etc.)

When I enter this tent I need to bend down some and when I examine the people along the walls, I have to really bend down or the plunging tent roof pushes against my head.

This tent had one man in the middle who was hooked up to an IV and he would tell me who was sickest and who to tend to first. I lugged in the heavy box of Ringer's Lactate in each day and placed it at the head of his cot. And he would open the box and then open the liters of Ringer?s Lactate for me and hand them to me as I inched around the tent tending to the patients.

He helped me a lot and made me more efficient. Hanging new bags, changing tubing, removing the air from the tubing, and hooking the patient back up does not sound like much, but it is here. Especially when it is hard to breathe or think.

This man slowly got better and I DC'd his IV and put him on all oral rehydration solution and he could even help me more in this tent. Four of the women in the tent were especially bad all week last week and this patient did quite a job alerting me to their need for more fluid each day.

I sent the man home a couple of days ago, because he was too good to stay.

No one has died in this tent yet.

This tent with this sick man acting as a valuable cholera assistant is emblematic of Haitian society. The poor take care of their neighbors as much as they can. They laugh when they have the strength to laugh. And I think this "force" that they exhibit to stick together in their villages, cholera tents, or internally displaced people camps, is the number one most important virtue in Haitian society that keeps 10 million people as functional as they are.

Who extricated the most people trapped in buildings after the earthquake? Was it the international community who flooded in to Haiti, the UN, the Haitian government, or poor Haitians?

And who brings sick Haitians with cholera to Cholera Treatment Centers? Is it President Martelly or Baby Doc who came back to help Haiti? Or is it the ?blue helmets? in their big white SUVs? Or is it strong Haitian men from "andeyo" carrying the infirm on their shoulders?

We all know the answer.

Haitians have no government to depend on. And the poor don't "touch" the international money.

If your IV runs dry, don't ask a politician to hang your next bag. Ask the sick guy on the green cot in the center of the tent.

John A. Carroll, MD
www.haitianhearts.org

ARTICLE - CHOLERA SURGES IN CENTRAL PLATEAU

CHOLERA SURGES INHAITI'S CENTRAL PLATEAU
(AP) - By Trenton Daniel

MIREBALAIS — An old man with sunken cheeks is so dehydrated he must be carried down the dirt lane to a clinic where the air is thick with the odor of bleach. Minutes later, a worried father enters, carrying a two-year-old girl in a frilly white dress, her eyes sunken and unfocused.

Such scenes are once again common in Haiti where a deadly cholera epidemic that swept the country last fall has returned, fueled by weeks of heavy rains that have helped spread the waterborne bacteria that flourishes in the country's rivers and rice fields.

The treatment center in Mirebalais, a dusty crossroads town a one-hour drive north from the capital, Port-au-Prince, is again seeing dozens of new patients a day, many arriving at the edge of death from dehydration.

The center saw a fivefold jump from April to May and it hasn't let up since, said Louise Ivers, senior health and policy adviser to the U.S.-based Partners in Health, which runs the clinic in association with the Health Ministry.

"When people come here, they're in critical condition, ready to die," said Francole Adonis, who registers the new arrivals at the center. "They're collapsing in the yard. The situation is horrible."

The number of new cases each day spiked to 1,700 per day in mid-June, three times as many as sought treatment in March, according to the Health Ministry. The daily average dropped back down to about 1,000 a day by the end of June but could surge again as the rainy season develops.

The epidemic began in rural Haiti last fall, likely brought by U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal. It swept through the countryside of an impoverished nation already overwhelmed by a January 2010 earthquake that left hundreds of thousands homeless and by political instability following disputed elections.

Cholera has sickened at least 370,000 people and killed more than 5,500 since the outbreak started in October, according to the Health Ministry. The precise total is unknowable since many Haitians live in remote areas with no access to health care. The disease is relatively easy to treat if people can get help in time.

When the outbreak began, foreign volunteers descended on Haiti to staff rural clinics and help provide access to clean drinking water. Many feared it would devastate Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of thousands of people were living in densely packed refugee camps. But people in the capital had access to latrines and potable water, thanks to the huge international aid effort, and it was spared the worst of the disease.

The disease faded in winter and spring, when rain is less frequent, and many aid workers moved on. U.N. troops in Haiti turned their attention to the country's many other pressing problems.

Now there is a fear among aid workers who remain that there won't be enough resources if the latest surge gets much worse.

"If the cases continue on the same path we could see a lot of health-worker fatigue," said Cate Oswald, a Partners in Health coordinator. "The health care force is already stretched thin."

Oswald recalled how volunteers were everywhere during the first response to the outbreak, providing supplies such as bleach, which is sprayed on shoes and throughout the centers to prevent the spread of cholera.

"At one point we were worrying about too much duplication of efforts," Oswald said.

"Then the rains started coming." Oswald paused. "And cholera was still here."

The rains have deluged the Caribbean, including Haiti, in recent weeks. The rivers of the Artibonite, where rural Haitians drink, bathe and wash their clothes, are flowing through a valley ringed by chocolate-brown mountains, and cholera is again raging in the region.

"Sometimes, it's 50 patients a day. Sometimes it's 200 patients a day," Pierre-Marie Cherenfant, a Mirebalais doctor who oversees the clinic, said of the flow of cases coming to the facility.

Smaller treatment centers throughout Haiti's Central Plateau are also reporting sharp increases in recent weeks, though the most recent breakdown for Mirebalais is not yet available, Ivers said.

There are signs of a growing problem in Carrefour, a large and crowded city on the right at the western edge of the capital. Treatment centers there were reporting more than 300 new cases a day in early June, more than twice what they were seeing back in November, according to the aid group Oxfam.

An emergency latrine built in Carrefour collapsed as heavy rains fell and the waste spilled into a camp, according to a June report by the U.N.'s shelter cluster.

UNICEF's Mark Henderson, head of the U.N.'s water and sanitation response, said many non-governmental organizations tapped into earthquake-related funds in the fall in a desperate effort for treatment and prevention. That money is no longer available.

"The initial funding that everybody received has come to an end," Henderson said.

Though the number of new cases is again rising, Health Ministry statistics show the number of deaths is far less than what it was during the initial surge. On a single day in mid-December, about 110 people died, compared to almost 20 in a single day in mid-June, according to the Health Ministry. The mortality rate is now under 2 percent, half what it was when the outbreak started.

The reason for the lower percentage of deaths is that people aren't waiting to get better, as many did when the disease first emerged, and instead are rushing for help. A public health campaign has featured radio jingles and text messages to educate people about the disease.

Haiti had never had a reported cholera outbreak until October but the initial cause of the outbreak is now no longer so mysterious.

This month, an article in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal said evidence "strongly suggests" that a Nepalese peacekeeping mission, based in Mirebalais, inadvertently imported the disease. The article points to "an exact correlation" in time and place between the arrival of a Nepalese battalion from an area of its South Asian homeland that was experiencing a cholera outbreak and the appearance of the first cases in a river a few days later.

The treatment center in Mirebalais started as a single one-story building. It quickly grew to include several large tents and temporary shelters, and now they are expanding again.

As Associated Press journalists toured the site recently, construction workers prepared the foundation for new buildings.

Thunder boomed in the background as health worker Rosette Jean-Philippe darted among beds and cots, adjusting IVs hooked to thin wrists and replacing bags of rehydration fluid.

"When you're here, that's what you have to do to save lives," Jean-Philippe said.