Haitians are increasingly seeking asylum in Canada for fear of being deported when a six month Temporary Protected Status extension concludes on January 22nd . According to the Miami Herald copied below, the Montreal City Council estimates that half of the 6,500 asylum seekers arriving since January are Haitian. In the United States, civil society groups continue to advocate for another extension.
While fragile politically, Haiti is much safer than media coverage suggests. Any violent crime mainly takes place in Port au Prince. Even there, homicide rates are decreasing (now at 3 per 100,000 people in three selected areas) vs. 52 per 100,000 people in Jamaica, generally viewed as a favorable tourism destination. Even Costa Rica has a higher rate than Haiti at 11 homicides per 100,000 people. Below is an article by Trenton Daniel on the decreasing homicide rate in Haiti's largest city. To court investment and tourism, Haiti needs to rebrand itself as historically, culturally, and artisticly rich as well as safe.
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.
JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is a health research/consulting firm dedicated to improving the health of individuals and communities worldwide. JSI visited Haiti in January 2009 to identify gaps in the availability and accessibility of reproductive health (RH) services and to assess community responses for strengthening quality, accessibility and availability. Reproductive health is a social issue, a public health issue, a human rights issue, a security issue, and one that is important for countries that are fragile, stable, or in Haiti's case, teetering in between. The report is attached and deserves to be widely read.
There is a Haitian Proverb, “fanm se poto mitan.” It means that women are the central pole of life, they support society. Sadly, the maternal clinics in Port au Prince are not able to support the numbers of pregnant mothers seeking a safe facility to give birth in. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald describes the under-resourced hospitals, their over-worked staff, and the negative impact on the health of women and children. As Paul Farmer notes in the article, ``…If you are really serious about reducing maternal mortality, you have to stay in the game a long time.'' You can read this and other Haiti related stories on the Miami Herald website. Then take a look at the short video and photos that convey the gravity of the situation.