[News] How the International Community Failed Haiti
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
by BILL QUIGLEY and AMBER RAMANAUSKAS
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
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.
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