While the United States scrambles to resettle Afghan refugees, Haitian asylum seekers are being deported en masse. Many have experienced or witnessed human rights abuses but are being returned without a proper hearing. The UN Refugee Agency has expressed concern that these returns may violate international law. Human Rights Watch and many other advocacy organisations, domestic and internatrional, have denounced these returns from an administration that campaigned on making the asylum process humane and transparent. The Diaspora and its partners are mobilzing to demand due process and dignity. More information follows in the article by Washington Post journalists Tim Craig, Sean Sullivan, and Silvia Foster-Frau below.
The Biden Administration will now allow Haitians who were in the United States as of May 21 ro apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This will protect Haiitians from being deported which is especially important given the ongoing pandemic, political instability, as well as kidnappings and other forms of violence that come with it. This also gives Haitians, who are nothing if not hard working, the freedom to work legally so they can contribute to the communities where they live. More information on this welome development from the Miami Herald's Jacqueline Charles follows below.
Internet penetration in Haiti remains low, limiting opportunities to grow Haiti's nascent information technology sector. Despite the challenges, there is strong local interset. For example, over 600 local developers and entrepeneurs signed up for a live streamed Google I/O Extended Conference at Hotel Karaibe to be followed by workshops and trainings conducted in Kreyol. The event is being organised by Google employees of Haitian descent. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles follows.
Below is a piece written by Ovetta Sampson for the Christian Science Monitor concerning Haiti's bid to join the African Union (AU). Haiti has been considered by many to be an orphaned African country. Membership would acknowledge Haiti's African roots, strong even today, and possibly open doors for credit and investment. Haiti's request for associate membership will be considered at the next AU Summit in June 2013. It would be a unique arrangement, but then again, Haiti is a unique country.
Two years after the earthquake, I find myself asking are we there yet? We knew recovery would be difficult. The earthquake was one of the worst natural disasters the western hemisphere has ever experienced and arguably the worst urban disaster ever. Haiti’s institutions were/are weak. For decades, NGOs have been providing the services that a strong, capable, and accountable government should. One indication of recovery is the extent to which Haiti’s half million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are able to access new homes and livelihoods.
The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy Magazine released the 2011 Failed States index today. Of 177 countries, Haiti was ranked the fifth most vulnerable when compared against twelve key social, economic, and political indicators. Few would dispute Haiti’s fragility. Still, the index does not convey that Haiti has major assets, such as its Diaspora and potential for economic development. Improvements depend in large part on the extent to which Haitian civil society and the international community can have confidence in the leadership of the Haitian government. A fair assessment or not? Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comment section.
Below is a report released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the current state of reconstruction efforts in Haiti. It identifies ten critical issues for rebuilding Haiti. A recurring theme is the tension between the desire for the Haitian government to lead and the reality that, without increased human and technical resources, it will not be able to do so. Financial resources alone will not be sufficient. The report also emphasizes the United States Government must do a better job of coordinating with the broader international donor community and ensure that it supports Haitian plans/priorities. For now, Haiti remains at a crossroads between relief and development.
The Haiti Donors' Conference is taking place today, which you can view by clicking here. In the meantime, the International Crisis Group (ICG) has released a report and recommednations for stabilizing and reconstructing Haiti. The report makes clear that stability demands a difficult balancing act between meeting immediate humanitarian needs, which will only become more pronounced during the rainy season, and laying the groundwork for long term recovery. An accountable government, an informed civil society, and an engaged Diaspora are key. The executive summary/recommendations are copied below and the complete report is attached.
The United Nations has called this the most challenging disaster response in its history. More challenges lie ahead, one of which is the upcoming rainy season. While it will not begin for several weeks, heavy rains are already occurring sporadically. Recently, eight people were killed in flooding around Les Cayes. The rains also caused a landslide that destroyed a school in Cap Haitian two weeks ago. Those who have been displaced in Port au Prince require solutions, whether that be temporary shelter or staying with a host family. Their protection, health, and well being depends upon finding shelter before the rains become a daily event.
The Decheteries De Carrefour Feuilles factory, founded by CASCAF, was selected among 12 finalists in the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Challenge 09 Competition. This project has created jobs, cleaned up neighborhoods, and made available a reasonably priced alternative to the wood charcoal that has left Haiti's hills and mountains largest deforested. If you also feel that this program deserves to be expanded and replicated, vote for it at the BBC World Challenge website. Bon Chans!