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Earthquake Stricken Haitians Victimized by World Indifference


By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 17 October 2010

Earthquake Stricken Haitians Victimized by World Indifference - by Stephen Lendman

Over 10 months post-quake, Haitian suffering continues, victimized by world indifference, contempt, and paralysis, a new Refugees International (RI) report saying they're "Still Trapped in the Emergency Phase."

Under appalling conditions, camp inhabitants face evictions, violence, arbitrarily appointed absentee camp managers, and lack of concern for their needs, including by UN personnel. They're trained to know better and act responsibly, or they should be under all emergency circumstances they face.

Committed personnel, more resources, and direct action are needed, what hasn't been forthcoming so far. Instead, camps remain squalid, ill-served, and overcrowded under "appalling standards of living." Moreover, landowners threaten evictions, and they're happening. However, with nowhere to go, those displaced end up crammed into other camps or in new ones formed on their own.

Despite egregious conditions, "the UN coordination system (isn't) prioritizing activities" to help. The current Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), in fact, also serves as MINUSTAH Resident Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative, effectively compromising his other mission.

MINUSTAH Blue Helmets occupy Haiti repressively. Established by Security Council vote on April 30, 2004, two months after the US-led coup ousting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, it's mission was flawed from inception. Its mandate in principle was to bring peace and stability. In fact, it was the first time ever to enforce a coup against a democratically elected president instead of backing his right to return.

MINUSTAH mandates are renewed annually despite public opposition. In an October 15 press release, 12 Haitian Civil Society Organizations and earthquake survivors announced protest activities against the latest one, staging sit-ins at the UN's logistical base near Haiti's international airport. They want aid, not Blue Helmet and police repression. More demonstrations are planned, including efforts to mobilize camp survivors to become engaged in the struggle for what only mass outrage and activism can bring.

In the meantime, effective assistance and safety concerns aren't addressed, spotty makeshift ones instead handled by lower-level indifferent staff. As a result, coordination has been dysfunctional leaving Haitians on their own with little help.

RI expressed alarm, calling the protection cluster led by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) inexperienced in disaster operational protection. "As a result, protection is not a priority across the cluster system," and OHCHR hasn't committed enough resources for it, including for the Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and Child Protection sub-clusters.

They have no full-time staff, instead using "over-committed personnel spread thin across a myriad of other duties." They're also integrated into MINUSTAH to enforce repression, not deliver peace, stability and emergency aid.

In contrast, UNHCR has longstanding emergency situation experience. However, it's also woefully understaffed with only four members on the ground. Many more are needed and more funding.

The Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster is key for providing protection, but it's led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) that can't provide it. "By taking on CCCM, IOM (now has) a protection role for which (it's) not equipped." In addition, it has only three junior-level protection officers, out of 700 staff, and "no links with local protection officers to gain a better understanding of the cultural context and the threats facing displaced people."

The combination of inexperienced staff, too few of them, and inadequate funding leaves Haitians on their own, ill-served, unsafe, and largely out of luck though billions in aid were pledged, and large amounts delivered for the wrong purposes.

Further, less than 30% of camps have managers, and they're, in fact, absentees. Most have no communications or coordination with international aid groups. As a result, most activities are being run ad hoc or not at all. Handling up to 1,300 camps is an enormous task, even harder when on the ground personnel aren't up to it or are indifferent.

RI heard many criticisms of dangerous and untenable conditions, including not resettling internally displaced persons (IDPs) "consistent with international norms, standards and best practice." For example, 6,000 people were resettled in isolated Corrail, in a flood plain, and another 42,000 are living around a new settlement's edges, waiting to see if they'll get land and other aid. However, lack of communication obstructs performance and clarity about who's in charge doing what for Haitian victims.

They also fear eviction despite living under wretched conditions, and already 15,000 have been affected and at least another 95,000 are at risk. "RI was informed of many reports of eviction threats being made to the protection and CCCM clusters which resulted in no action being taken to defend the IDPs' rights." It's another gross sign of indifference and contempt. Despite numerous strategy sessions and meetings, most Haitians believe nothing's being done to help, and they're right.

Moreover, "The communication gap is huge, and one sees very little presence of international agencies in the camps or in the streets." As a result, many civil society leaders have given up relying on UN aid and instead work directly with communities and camp members, despite meager resources to help adequately.

More from the Ground

On September 19, New York Times writer Deborah Sontag headlined, "Haitians Cry in Letters: 'Please - Do Something,' " saying:

"We don't want to die of hunger and also we want to send our children to school. I give glory to God that I am still alive - but I would like to stay that way!"

For weeks, "thousands of displaced Haitians have similarly vented their concerns, depositing impassioned pleas for help in new suggestion boxes at a hundred camps throughout the disaster zone." Together, they're a cri de coeur from "impotent and ignored" people.

Hundreds of letters express incredible misery, one from a woman saying:

"I feel discouraged, I don't sleep comfortably, I gave birth six months ago, the baby died, I have six other children, they don't have a father, I don't have work, my tarp is torn, the rain panics me, my house was crushed, I don't have money to feed my family, I would really love it if you would help me."

Another said:

"We are so powerless. It is like we are bobbing along on the waves of the ocean, waiting to be saved," but no one's there to help.

Bill Quigley saw conditions firsthand. His most recent October 11 article headlined, "Nine Months After the Quake - A Million Haitians Slowly Dying" can be accessed through the the following link:

http://www.countercurrents.org/quigley111010.htm

Wilda, a homeless mother, spoke for many saying "If it gets any worse, we're not going to survive." Indeed so because conditions today are no different than weeks post-quake. Virtually nothing has been done. Rubble remains. A scant amount of aid has been delivered, and it's slowing. Up to 1.5 million or more remain homeless and alone. There's no electricity, inadequate food and clean water, wretched sanitation, spotty healthcare, poor security, tattered tarps, no school, and other forms of deplorable deprivation.

As a result, children are hungry. "People are coughing, sniffling, and their eyes (are) watering. Quiet babies are the norm. Many have skin rashes and vaginal infections. There are several volunteer clinics but usually only the very sickest are seen because so many people need help."

People are living everywhere - in parks, parking lots, school yards, and "in the middle of many streets." Lucky ones have plastic tents. Most have makeshift ones using bed linen or whatever they have to make due. Camps are tightly packed, dirt paths only through them, "some only inches wide," and when it rains everything turns to mud.

Thousands have been evicted. Many more are coming. Even "Churches are pushing people off their property, (and) Some in authority are openly saying that people must be forced out of camps." To where is the question as only about 13,000 temporary structures have been built, "and they are far away from family, school, jobs (for those who have one), and healthcare. There is no place to go," and no help afforded.

In September, a joint study prepared by the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), The Lamp for Haiti Foundation, and the University of San Francisco School of Law, Center for Law and Global Justice confirmed the worst among families surveyed, saying:

-- 75% had someone in the family "go an entire day without eating in the past week," and over half said their children hadn't eaten for an entire day;

-- "44% of families primarily drank untreated water," meaning they ingested toxins likely to cause illness or death;

-- "27% of families defecated in a container, a plastic bag, or on open ground in the camps," because sanitation conditions are appalling;

-- "78% of families lived without enclosed shelter;"

-- among 45 families alone, 245 health problems were identified;

-- "94% of families felt they could not return home while 48% had been threatened with forced eviction...." and

-- over one-third of families had no job or source of income.

Study findings also determined that even meager "aid has slowed and even stopped in each of the six camps surveyed," suggesting all of them face the same problem "living (under) conditions (that) continue to violate basic human dignity."

Though many cling to hope, the reality on the ground is that "Wilda and a million (or more) other Haitians are slowly dying from starvation, illness, lack of security and neglect" because authorities able to provide aid spurn them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Tags

I was going to include a link for it, but have now seen that Stephen Lendman did and it's the article, "Nine Months After the Quake - a Million Haitians Slowly Dying", by Bill Quigley, truth-out.org, Oct. 11th, 2010. Otoh, the following copy provides a picture that, in turn, provides a peak at what conditions are like.

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70644

Definitely read that article. It's short, but says much. It's about the horrible conditions in the over-1,000 camps, extreme lack of water and food, no real shelters, rape and what women are doing to protect themselves, evictions, activism by the afflicted Haitians, and more.

Stephen Lendman wrote:

Despite egregious conditions, "the UN coordination system (isn't) prioritizing activities" to help. The current Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), in fact, also serves as MINUSTAH Resident Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative, effectively compromising his other mission.

MINUSTAH Blue Helmets occupy Haiti repressively. (snip)

Definitely, definitely, one of those for each of the above two paragraphs; the second one mostly snipped, but nevertheless meaning the whole of it.

And repressive has been MINUSTAH's light manner, for it even got to the point that MINUSTAH soldiers entered poverty areas and cold-bloodedly shot unarmed Haitians, including shooting some inside their homes without entering the homes, several years ago. And when the butchers that the U.S. et al released from prison, where they needed to be kept, took machetes to supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a soccer or sports field, MINUSTAH was witness and did nothing.

I read enough articles at http://HaitiAction.net for a couple of years following the Feb. 29th, 2004 act-of-war coup d'etat that the U.S., Canada and France committed against the indeed democratically elected government and President Aristide. Kevin Pina did some excellent reporting on the [real] situation in Haiti for a good while, but most foreign media, those not of Haiti, produced a lot of propaganda, cover-up kind, and I guess some simply erroneous reporting. The latter is giving them some benefit of doubt.

Repressive, definitely. Brutally repressive, murderously so, also.

Stephen Lendman wrote:

MINUSTAH mandates are renewed annually despite public opposition. In an October 15 press release, 12 Haitian Civil Society Organizations and earthquake survivors announced protest activities against the latest one, staging sit-ins at the UN's logistical base near Haiti's international airport. (snip)

"Anti-UN protesters block Haiti base"

by AlJazeera.net, Oct. 15th, 2010

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70803

Demonstrators have blocked the entrance to the UN military headquarters in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, spraying anti-UN slogans on vehicles trying to enter.

(snip)

Although opposition demonstrators remained quiet for several months following the massive January 12 earthquake, a chorus of opposition to Rene Preval, Haiti's president, and to UN forces has become more vocal in recent weeks.

Mandate extended

The political violence comes on the heels of Thursday's announcement by the UN that its peacekeeping force will remain in Haiti at least another year.

(snip)

The post-election transition to a new government will not happen until next year, and the UN peacekeeping force's mandate was extended to October 15, 2011.

The election's to be held November 28th.

Genocidal:

Are the elites of industrialized and wealthy western countries, governments letting the Haitians wither away until death for the purpose of getting rid of them for, somehow, profit for, well, western elites again, or what? The financial cost to truly help the Haitians wouldn't put any noticeable dent in the West's military spending and war funding; not at all.

I consider it genocidal because of the rich West's financial crimes against Haiti for decades and the act-of-war coup d'etat against the democratically elected government of Haiti. No reparations have ever been provided. Only repression and brutal repression have been applied. So the crisis the Haitians are caught in now is with genocidal intent, imo.

"Haiti: US Congress members warn Clinton to include Lavalas in elections"

by Randall White, Sept. 30th, 2010

http://haitiaction.net/News/HA/9_30_10/9_30_10.html

Haiti Action.net - Port au Prince, Haiti — "President John Kennedy famously remarked, 'Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.' Running transparently unfair, exclusive elections, with the support of the international community, will leave many Haitians to conclude that they have no choice but to protest the elections and the consequent government through social disruption. That disruption threatens to severely limit such a government's ability to govern, and imperils the United States' past and future investments in Haiti's reconstruction."

- Urge Secretary Clinton to Support Free, Fair and Inclusive Elections in Haiti
Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

After being virtually silent on electoral justice in Haiti since 2005, Congresswoman Maxine Waters is now attempting to get her colleagues to sign on to a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to withhold US funding for the November 28 presidential and parliamentary elections in Haiti that are designed exclude the largest political organization in the country.

(snip)

Yet the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Haiti on Nov. 28 are just that -- unfair, unconstitutional and undemocratic. The country's Provisional Electoral Council, which itself is not constitutionally composed, is refusing to allow the country's majority party — Famni Lavalas (Lavalas Family) — to participate in the election. Thirteen other legitimate political parties are also being excluded from parliamentary elections.

Read more

That's for a link to the following article, which is briefly excerpted in the part that I snipped from the above article.

"Unfair and undemocratic"

by Ira J. Kurzban, Sept. 8th, 2010

www.miamiherald.com/2010/09/08/1813042/unfair-and-undemocratic.html#ixzz...

The first article, above, continues.

In a June 10 report to the Committee on Foreign Relations, — Haiti: No Leadership - No Elections — Ranking Member , Richard Lugar pointed out the systemic injustice of excluding the Fanmi Lavalas political organization. While the intent of the report was to avoid delay and encourage President Préval to formally schedule the elections on November 28, the report pointed out that there were several hurdles to free, fair and democratic elections. Including the Fanmi Lavalas Political organization was considered key to achieving real democracy and avoiding potentially violent chaos.

(snip)

Both the US Senate report and the US House letter point out that the current Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) hand-selected by Préval is unsuitable and must be replaced before the election process could begin. Préval refused to reconstitute the CEP, but scheduled the elections, with the tacit support of the Obama Administration and the "International Community" with the duplicitous premise that they were needed to stabilize the country in the aftermath of the January 12 Earthquake.

(snip)

Congresswoman Maxine Waters' note to her colleagues and the Letter are included below.

Constituents are encouraged to call their own Representative and request that they sign on to Maxine Waters letter.

IJDH has an urgent Action Alert encouraging constituents to call their own Congress member and request that they sign on to Maxine Waters letter:

(snip)

That's the letter to Sec. of State Clinton.

IJDH is the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, http://ijdh.org, and a good writer from there I've read articles by is Brian Concannon. And there are very recent news articles there now on Haiti.

And here's an article at HaitiAction.net about a sermon Rev. Jeremiah Wright delivered on Sunday, Sept. 19th.

"Rev. Jeremiah Wright: "Let's tell the truth about Haiti""

by Randall White, Sept. 21st, 2010

http://haitiaction.net/News/RAW/9_21_10/9_21_10.html

Haiti Action.net - Oakland, CA, USA — "… If you want to help Haiti, let's start, let's start, let's start by telling the truth. Okay? The truth is that on April 7, 2003, President Aristide, a democratically elected president on the side of the poor, called together a Restitution Commission which determined that France owed Haiti twenty-one billion dollars. And within weeks, France and The United States told Aristide it was time for him to go. Step aside, step down, resign or be killed.

"The Haitians had their duly elected, democratically elected president kidnapped by United States Marines …"

On Sunday September 19th at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland it soon became obvious that when Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright said he had "retired," a couple of years ago, it meant he retired from his daily pastoral obligations at Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) in Chicago — where the Rev. Otis Moss III is now the Senior Pastor — and did not include his prophetic obligation to deliver timely messages .... (snip)

(snip)

At Allen Temple, preaching from the text of Micah 6:1-8 - a favorite passage of Liberation Theology leaders - Dr. Wright's sermon topic was: "What Does The Lord Require?: To Do Justice?" The text points out that "doing justice" is not just a guideline, but a requirement for those who claim to be the People of God. Like Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, the Hebrew prophet Micah was confronting the ruling elite and government of his day demanding that they throw off their oppressive addiction to and desire for power and return to the "justice for all" that was required in the covenant relationship they had with their Creator. One doesn't have to look hard in the Book of Micah to see that there is a direct correlation to the Haiti of today.

The ruling elite of Israel and Judah wanted to pursue a life of luxury and excess, feeling that their position on the economic food chain entitled them to exploit the workers at will. (snip) The unemployed peasants were forced into the now overcrowded urban areas which saw overwhelming poverty on a scale never before experienced by the Hebrew nation. (snip)

While not calling for the return of Aristide to Haiti, or for the participation of Lavalas in the upcoming presidential elections, Reverend Wright waded into Haiti's issues that would be glossed over by the corporate media interests in their pursuit of celebrity gossip:

"We give four hundred and ninety eight million dollars for Haiti's natural resources. For sugar, for timber, for flax seed, and guess what else we give them money for? For their concrete! They send their Grade A concrete to rich countries for pennies on the dollar and are left to build their homes and schools, their hospitals and churches with inferior concrete that can not withstand any kind of earthquake — much less a seven point anything on the Richter scale. Why not do justly? Why not 'do justice' in Haiti and give a fair price of five billion dollars for Haitian exports. That's what they bring in the white world, after we steal them for pennies from poor black folk ."

Reverend Wright has been exhorting the African-American Church family to stand in solidarity with the oppressed in Haiti for some time. Wright was one of the few national leaders in 2005 to sign a Lavalas petition (linked) calling for the return of Aristide and the end of the US directed occupation. Later the same year TUCC - When Reverend Wright was still Pastor - hosted a showing of "Haiti the Untold Story," in Chicago.

In the Allen Temple sermon, the Reverend returned to the subject of Restitution and Reparations — after exposing the Injustice in South Africa — by providing further Scriptural authority to the issue:

(snip)

Below is the full transcript of Reverend Wright's comments on Haiti in the sermon: "What Does The Lord Require?: To Do Justice?" Even better download and listen (7.7M) to the audio segment. For the complete sermon contact the Allen Temple Tape Ministry

(snip)

Rev. Wright drew from other parts of Biblical scripture about the need for the rich who've robbed others, or who have abused others, to provide reparations; and possibly another principle or two.

It's very good and he's right, albeit I wonder why he didn't call for returning President Aristide to Haiti, i.e., home, and for the Lavalas and other legitimate parties in Haiti to be allowed to run in the Nov. 28th elections this year. Anyway, he's right in what he does say, but if God spoke, then His words would find awfully deaf ears among the imperialist and economic elites.

Intentional genocide of Haitians is what's going on, imo.

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