Below is an article by Ezra Fieser and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning a Dominican court ruling denying citizenship to Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants. Many of them have never been to Haiti but nevertheless will be denied access to education and opportunities as they lack citizenship from the country where they were born and raised. Haiti has recalled its Ambassador and protests are planned by human rights activists.
According to Trenton Daniel and Martha Mendoza, a ten year $2.2 billion dollar plan to eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic will be released shortly. The plan will be government-led with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the WHO/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). It is yet to be determined who will fund the plan and to what extent although the World Bank has indicated it will contribute. Although it will take years, eliminating cholera is neccesary both for protecting public health and promoting investment.
One World Education is a Washington DC based non profit organization that specializes in teaching high school students to write about cultural/global issues. Andre Sanabia, a tenth grader from Alexandria who participates in the program, wrote a piece questioning how Haitians (and Dominicans of Haitian descent) are treated in the Dominican Republic. I wish more politicians in the Dominican Republic possessed Andre's introspectiveness. As he notes, a little kindness goes a long way.
Any discussion on transitioning from emergency relief to development in Haiti must take into account environmental issues. Environmental degradation is a major factor behind decreasing agricultural productivity, hunger and malnutrition, urbanization, and vulnerability to natural disasters. Since the earthquake, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) has been working with the Haitian government to build its capacity to address environmental challenges such as marine management, clean energy promotion, and trans-boundary reforestation. A brief summary of UNEP's activities in Haiti follows below.
Most agree that efforts to protect the safety, dignity and rights of the most vulnerable populations (women, children, the disabled, the elderly, etc.) in post earthquake Haiti could and should have been more effective. Women and children are still vulnerable to a range of protection threats including sexual abuse/exploitation and human trafficking. Interaction, an advocacy group for American non-governmental organizations (NGOs) has released two reports, on improving protection and on preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) respectively. Both are thorough, well thought out, and are copied below.
Haiti is in the midst of a cholera outbreak, the origin of which is and may remain unclear. We live in a mobile world and the source could be Africa, Asia, South America, or it may have already been in the environment. Where it came from is less important than the fact that Haiti, and especially the poorest of the poor, will always be vulnerable without clean water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene. This is an update on the current cholera emergency and a reflection on actions that can prevent this from happening again.
Below is an article by Gerardo Reyes and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald concerning human trafficking and sexual exploitation of minors in the Dominican Republic, both of which have increased since the January earthquake. Human trafficking occurs on both sides of the border. It will take a sustained, joint effort to ensure that migration is humane, orderly, and that minors are not being exploited as they are now. As the article makes clear, this will require tackling corruption within the border authorities. For more information, take a look at the U.S. State Department's latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) reports for the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
While the impact of the earthquake was felt most acutely in Port au Prince, the entire country has been affected. Hundreds of thousands of the displaced have returned to a long neglected countryside and to secondary cities like Cap Haitian. Nate Nickerson, Director of Konbit Sante, provides an update on how Cap Haitian is dealing with the influx and what is being done to meet the health needs of returnees. You can learn more about Konbit Sante's important work, and how you can support them, on their Website and Facebook Page.
Kerry Kennedy of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Justice and Human Rights recently completed an advocacy mission to the Dominican Republic. The racism against those with darker skin can be so intense that travelling there feels like going back in time. Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent are routinely denied citizenship, making them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. While meeting with government officials, Kennedy urged them to work with local human rights defenders such as Sonia Pierre, who despite winning the 2006 RFK Human Rights Award, has been treated not as a hero, but a threat. Her trip summary is copied blow.
Human trafficking is a global problem that affects every country in the world. Last week, the U.S. State Department released its 2009 annual report on how well partner governments are preventing and responding to human trafficking. Understanding trafficking in Haiti requires understanding the situation in the Dominican Republic. Neither country complies with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking, although both governments acknowledge the need to do more. This is an issue that clearly requires cross-border collaboration.