American Airlines will become the first major carrier to offer daily, direct flights to Cap Haitian. The combination of historic sites and beaches might prove a draw for both the Haitian Diaspora and those interested in visiting Haiti without having to transfer through Port-au-Prince. Growing the tourism industry in Haiti will take time - but having the option of flighting in through the north certainly helps.
Last month, the U.S. State Department released the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. As in previous years, the report noted serious shortcomings in the Haitian government's efforts to prevent and respond to human trafficking. There is some good news, though - in 2014 the Haitian government enacted a law to criminalize human trafficking which is a welcome and much-needed step. The country narrative for Haiti follows below.
Solutions to displacement take time, coordination and resources. According to a recent update by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the total number of households living in camps has decreased by 92 percent compared to four and a half years ago. The government-led rental subsidy program, supported by IOM and donors, has been instrumental in helping households transition. For more information, view the full report.
The government of the Dominican Republic recently passed a nationality law which, by no means perfect, represents a step forward in addresssing statelessness. The main difficulty now lies in its full implementation across the country. Below is an article by Associated Press writers Ezequiel Abiu Lopez and Danica Coto that notes both positive and negative reactions to the nationality law.
In Haiti, machetes are ubiquitous and versatile. As Arielle Castro notes below, they are also the "Excalibur of the Caribbean". In the case of Haiti, machetes were common weapons in the struggle for independence. The short film, "Papa Machete", revolves around a Haitian machete-fighting instructor who lives and practices outside of Jacmel. The film producers have also launched a Kickstarter campaign to construct a new training facility. More information on the history of Haitian machete fighting is available here.
The FY 2013 Department of State Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report notes Haiti is a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking including 150,000 - 500,000 children (restaveks) in domestic servitude. Given that, it is highly signficant that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) helped draft an anti-trafficking bill approved by the Haitian parliament. It establishes a National Counter-Trafficking Committee and intends to improve prevention, prosecution, protection, and partnerships.
Below is an article by Dean Nelson in the New York Times about a trip taken to some of Haiti's most beautiful and remote sites. Could these sites one day help promote tourism in Haiti? Perhaps with the right physical and human infrastructure to support it. In any case, it is a reminder that there is a lot to see, much of it beautiful, outside of Port au Prince.
The Brookings Institution and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently released a report analyzing solutions for those who remain displaced in Port-au-Prince. A key message is that solutions involve more than just closing camps. Solutions happen over the long-term and require the participation of governments, humanitarians, development agencies and the displaced. The executive summary is below and you can read the full report here.
The UN has released its 2014 Humanitarian Action Plan for Haiti. While 89% of camp residents have moved out and significant progress has been made against cholera, significant challenges remain such as halting environmental degradation and reducing vulnerability to disasters. The plan focuses on meeting the basic needs of those remaining in the camps, addressing the cholera epidemic, increasing food security, and strengthening the leadership and capacity of national authorities. A summary of the plan follows.
Peace Corps is not currently active in Haiti and it remains to be seen whether a program will be re-established. There remains a network of 516 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Haiti and continue to share their experiences. Richard Ireland, senior statesman of the group before me, gave a presentation at his church, now available online. His musings on how Americans and Haitians view time, fear, and joy is well worth a listen as is learning how to say no with an open heart instead of a closed one. You can listen by clicking here.