As the UN Peackeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) winds down, it leaves a mixed legacy - less insecurit and better police along with an ongoing cholera epidemic and a number of Haitian women who became pregnant by U.N peacekeepers. Reuters journalist Makini Brice notes in her article below that while the United Nations has a "zero tolerance" policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, peacekeepers move on while their children grow up without any support. Haitian lawyers intend to file law suits although the timing is unclear. The United Nations has a long track record of promising but under-delivering on accountability in peace-keeping operations - how these women are treated will be an indicator of whether anything has changed.
The current administration has granted undocumented Haitians in the United States an additional six months of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), protecting them from deportation...at least for now. The Department of Homeland Security has warned that this may be the final six months of TPS and Haitians should prepare for return. It is difficult to imagine how Haiti can absorb 60,000 returnees at this point in time - especially those who would be returning to the hurricane affected Grande Anse. Due in large part to Hurricane Matthew, the economy is expected to contract ths year. Additional information follows in a Miami Herald article by Jacqueline Charles below.
Below is an article by Orlando Sentinel journalist Sandra Pedicini about the hundreds of Haitian Disney employees who will be forced to leave the United States should the government end their Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS was given to undocumented Haitians in the United States after the 2010 earthquake to protect them from deportation. Advocates, as well as Senate Democrats, argue that the ongoing cholera epidemic and aftermath of Hurricane Matthew justify TPS. Further, companies such as Disney are speaking out against the possibility of losing hard-working and dependable employees. More information about TPS available at the USCIS website.
Jacqueline Charles (Miami Herald) reminds us in her article below that life in communities struck by Hurricane Matthew six months ago remains difficult. Food insecurity, which depends in large part on agriculture, is tenuous and replacement shelters have yet to be constructed. The Haitian Government has been clear that it leads the recovery efforts although it is clear much remains to be done. Beyond meeting food and shelter needs remains the challenging task of preparing for furture hurricanes to mitigate the damage they will cause.
On Thursday, April 13 the United Nations Security Council is expected to pass a resolution extending the mandate of MINUSTAH for a final six months, during which its 2,370 military personnel will phase. After, a smaller mission of 1,275 police officers will focus on training the Haitian National Police. The full article by Edith Lederer (AP) follows and more information is available on the MINUSTAH website.
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 U.S State Department has released 2016 Human Rights Reports. As in previous years, human right challenges in Haiti included weak democratic governance, inufficient respect for the rule of law, a deficient judicial system, and persistent corruption. The good news is that it is clear where the shortcomings are and what the new government must do to improve. There a wide range of partners who want to help including Haitian activists and organizations, other governemnts, and multilateral and non-governmental partners. The 2016 Human Rights Report for Haiti follows.
The Haitian Government has announced a commission to examine the country's prisons, which have long known to be over-crowded and unsafe. Due to Haiti's weak justice system, most prisoners have not been convicted of crimes but are instead being held in pre-trial detention. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other organizations have for many years tried to improve conditions in the prisons but lasting change requires governmental committment, planning, and resources. For more information on Haiti, visit the World Prison Brief. The full article by AP reported David McFadden follows.
The UN Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has been active in Haiti for more than a decade. During the early years, MINUSTAH was instrumental in countering gang activity and a kidnapping crisis. However, MINUSTAH forces have also been responsible for sexual exploiting and abusing children and the country is still dealing with a cholera epidemic resulting from irresponsible sanitation practices by Nepali peacekeepers. The logical transition would be to continue strengthening Haitian institutions responsible for human rights, justice and rule of law - so MINUSTAH will not be needed in the future. Full Reuters article below.
On February 6, the Haitian Government along with UN and other partners, launched a two year, $291 million response plan to help 2.4 million persons affected by the earthquake recover. The UN notes that the October hurricane was exasperated by pre-existing humanitarian, socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities and disparities. In other words, these communities had many problems even before the Hurricane struck. The plan incorporates activities to promote the resilience of affected communities so they will be better prepared and better able to respond when the next hurricane comes. This being the Caribbean, there will also be another hurricane. The full response plan can be viewed here.