[News] How the International Community Failed Haiti

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 7 12:14:20 EST 2013


January 07, 2013

Hundreds of Thousands Homeless in Haiti Three Years After the Earthquake 
Despite Billions in Aid Funneled to NGOs, Contractors and Internationals

  How the International Community Failed Haiti


Despite billions in aid which were supposed to go to the Haitian people, 
hundreds of thousands are still homeless, living in shanty tent camps as 
the effects from the earthquake of January 12, 2010 remain.

The earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010 killing, according to 
Oxfam International, 250,000 people and injuring another 300,000.  
360,000 Haitians are still displaced and living hand to mouth in 496 
tent camps across the country according to the International 
Organization of Migration.  Most eat only one meal a day.

Cholera followed the earthquake.  Now widely blamed on poor sanitation 
by UN troops, it has claimed 7,750 lives and sickened over a half a 
million. The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and their 
Haitian partner Bureau des Avocats Internationaux have filed legal 
claims against the UN on behalf of thousands of cholera victims.  
Recently the Haitian government likewise demanded over $2 billion from 
the international community to address the scourge of cholera.

Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 55 
percent of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 a day.  
About 60 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture, the 
primary source of income in rural areas.  Haiti imports more than 55 
percent of its food.  The average Haitian eats only 73 percent of the 
daily minimum recommended by the World Health Organization. Even before 
the earthquake 40 percent of households (3.8 million people) were 
undernourished and 3 of 10 children suffered from chronic malnutrition.

In November 2012, Hurricane Sandy leveled yet another severe blow to the 
hemisphere's poorest country.   Wind and twenty inches of rain from 
Hurricane Sandy killed over 50 people, damaged dozens of cholera 
centers, and badly hurt already struggling farming communities.

Despite an outpouring of global compassion, some estimate as high as $3 
billion in individual donations and another $6 billion in governmental 
assistance, too little has changed.   Part of the problem is that the 
international community and non-government organizations (Haiti has 
sometimes been called the Republic of NGOs) has bypassed Haitian 
non-governmental agencies and the Haitian government itself.  The Center 
for Global Development analysis of where they money went concluded that 
overall less than 10% went to the government of Haiti and less than 1% 
went to Haitian organizations and businesses.  A full one-third of the 
humanitarian funding for Haiti was actually returned to donor countries 
to reimburse them for their own civil and military work in the country 
and the majority of the rest went to international NGOs and private 

With hundreds of thousands of people still displaced, the international 
community has built less than 5000 new homes.  Despite the fact that 
crime and murder are low in Haiti (Haiti had a murder rate of 6.9 of 
every hundred thousand, while New Orleans has a rate of 58), huge 
amounts of money are spent on a UN force which many Haitians do not 
want.  The annual budget of the United Nations "peacekeeping" mission, 
MINUSTAH for 2012-2013 or $644 million would pay for the construction of 
more than 58,000 homes at $11,000 per home.

There are many stories of projects hatched by big names in the 
international community into which millions of donated dollars were 
poured only to be abandoned because the result was of no use to the 
Haitian people.  For example, internationals created a model housing 
community in Zoranje.  A two million dollar project built 60 houses 
which now sit abandoned according to Haiti Grassroots Watch.

Deborah Sontag in the /New York Times/ tells the stories of many other 
bungles in a critical article which reported only a very small 
percentage of the funds have been focused on creating permanent housing 
for the hundreds of thousands displaced. Many expect 200,000 will be 
still in displacement camps a year from now.

The majority of the hundreds of thousands of people still displaced by 
the earthquake have no other housing options.  Those who were renters 
cannot find places to stay because there is a dramatic shortage of 
rental housing.  Many of those who owned homes before the earthquake 
have been forced to move back into their despite the fact that these 
homes are unsafe.  A survey by USAID found that housing options are so 
few that people have moved back into over 50,000 "red" buildings which 
engineers said should be demolished.

One new program, 16/6, promises to pay a one-time $500 maximum rental 
subsidy for a family to relocate from tent camps but this program will 
only benefit a tiny percentage of the displaced population because it is 
currently available only for about 5% of the people displaced.  It is 
limited to those living in the 6 most visible public camps in Port au 
Prince.  With the housing shortage in Port-au-Prince there are few 
places available to rent even with a subsidy.

Most of the people living under tents are on private property and are 
subjected to official and private violence in forced evictions according 
to Oxfam.  Over 60,000 have been forcibly evicted from over 150 tent 
camps with little legal protection.  Oxfam reports many in camps fear 
leaving their camps to seek work or food worried that their tents and 
belongings will be destroyed in their absence.

Dozens of Haitian human rights organizations and international allies 
are organizing against forced evictions in a campaign called Under Tents 

The fact that these problems remain despite billions in aid is mostly 
the result of the failure of the international community to connect with 
Haitian civil society and to work with the Haitian government.  
Certainly the Haitian government has demonstrated problems but how can a 
nation be expected to grow unless it leads its own reconstruction?  
Likewise, Haitian civil society, its churches, its human rights and 
community organizations, can be real partners in the rebuilding of the 
country.  But the international community has to take the time to work 
in a respectful relationship with Haiti.  Or else the disasters of the 
earthquake and hurricanes will keep hammering our sisters and brothers 
in Haiti, the people in our hemisphere who have already been victimized 
far too frequently.

*/*Bill Quigley*/*/ is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola 
University New Orleans and Associate Director of the Center for 
Constitutional Rights. ///////He is a contributor to 
//////////////Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1849351104/counterpunchmaga> (AK 
Press). ///////You can reach Bill at //quigley77 at gmail.com 
<mailto:quigley77 at gmail.com> /

*Amber Ramanauskas* is a lawyer and human rights researcher. She can be 
reached at: gintarerama at gmail.com <mailto:gintarerama at gmail.com>

Thanks to Sophia Mire and Vladimir Laguerre for their help. A copy of 
this article with full sources is available.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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