Stateless persons are not recognized as citizens of any country. They are often vulnerable to exploitation due to a lack of access to health care, education, work, and justice. It is a major problem in the Dominican Republic where the the government has long been reluctant to grant citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent. Last week, the Haitian Parliament voted to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, making it the third member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the 69th country in the world to do so. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement praising Haiti for its committment. To become involved, consider joining UNHCR's "I Belong" Campaign to End Statelessness.
The suffering caused by the earthquake is difficult to fully comprehend. Haitian authorities report that at least 72,000 bodies have been recovered. Some predict the final death toll will be as high as 150,000 in Port au Prince alone. Up to 1.5 million people may be homeless. ICRC reports approximately 55,000 people in 40 informal temporary camps throughout the city. As you read this, many people are going back to the countryside. While most of the damage took place in the southern portion of Haiti, the whole country will be affected. The Government has declared a period of national mourning until February 17. We all grieve for what Haiti has lost.
Haiti faced a number of challenges in 2009 including decreased remittances from the Diaspora as well as a messy transition at the Prime Ministerial level. All things considered though, Haiti enters 2010 stronger than it was at the beginning of 2009. The capacity of ministries to deliver basic services is improving and partnerships have been solidified with the United States, Canada, and a number of Latin American and European governments. Haiti has more investment opportunities than at any other time in the post-embargo era. The next challenge will be the February 2010 legislative elections, already controversial. Improving food security will undoubtedly be an important theme throughout the new year.
The Center for American Progress recently released an interesting and cautiously optimistic report (attached) on security in Haiti. For Haiti watchers, the background will no doubt be familiar but there is still much of interest. Below is an analysis of the recommendations. The historical and political cards have long been stacked against Haiti but there is now more evidence and more reasons to expect security will hold and improve. With a lot of work, a bit of luck, and the support of its friends, Haiti will continue to make progress….piti piti.
It is Kanaval season in Haiti! This is not a time to dwell on one’s sorrows but a time to focus on living. It is a loud, vibrant, and wonderful time of the year. No matter how bad things get, Kanaval will always be for friendships, relationships, music, dancing, tradition (and drinking.) But as another proverb goes, after the dance the drum is heavy. When Kanaval is over, it’s back to work for all. Achieving food security is task #1.
The past year has been hard for Haiti. As usual, an emergency occurred that galvanized the attention of the international community temporarily. Humanitarian responders ramped up operations to deal with the crisis at hand. Commitments were made from donors, some of which were even kept. But other emergencies happened around the world in other countries, and the political will to help Haiti make it from emergency to development mode fades. Below is a Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles, touching on the issue of "Haiti Fatigue." Has the world grown tired of Haiti?