Gang violence in Haiti's largest city continues to have a pervasive negative impact that reverberates throughout the country, affecting security, the economy, food security, education, and health care. According to Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald, dozens of people have been killed and more than a hundred injured in a new round of deadly violence "aggravating fuel shortages, raising transportation costs and making an already troubling humanitarian crisis even worse." Further, 20,000 residents of the densely populated slums have been displaced by gang violence since May. A July 8 article about gang violence in Port au Prince is copied below and linked is an update by Charles.
Gangs in Port au Prince thrive when there is an absence of governance, no rule of law, and economic stagnation. The UN has described current levels of gang violence as unprecedented and affecting all aspects of life - for example, 11 medical centers and 442 schools have closed. National roads connecting Port-au-Prince to the rest of the country are dangerous, limiting the movement of people and goods. While the security situation continues to deteriorate Haiti's developmental issues remain unaddressed - environmental degradation, lack of infrastructure and investment, poor basic services, and unrelenting brain drain. Security is not enough to address these underlying problems but it is a prerequisite - and the gangs will not give up territory willingly. The full CNN article follows.
Protests, taking place throughout the country, have negatively affected the economy and the ability of schools and clinics to function. While this is regrettable, protestors are fighting for a government that is more accountable, more responsive, and that invests in the people rather than enriching themselves. Without that, nothing will change for the better. High level leaders hide while sending out the security forces, who as demonstrated by Amnesty International, have committed abuses on numerous occassions. This is unacceptable - visit the Amnesty International website to read the full report and see accompanying videos.
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.
While the World Bank has a mixed record in Haiti, it and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) remain two of the most important multilateral funders of its post earthquake reconstruction. Yesterday, the World Bank announced $255 million in grants for Haiti which will be focused on strengthening education, agriculture, and disaster risk management – all of which are critical for Haiti’s long term development. The World Bank press release follows. More information about its activities in Haiti are available on the World Bank website.
The Service to Serve Haiti Committee is a group of individuals from the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC committed to supporting recovery efforts in Haiti. Its members have organized a screening of "Lift Up", a documentary about two Haitian brothers who return to Haiti in order to memorialize the grandfather they lost after the earthquake. The screening will benefit Fonkoze, the Haiti Micah Project, and the Saint Vincent's School for the Handicapped, each of which the Committee's members have worked with and know first hand the impact these groups are making for women and children in Haiti. Below is the official press release.
Established in Jacmel in 1987, the mission of PAZAPA (Step by Step) is to support the treatment, education and development of children with disabilities and to integrate them into their communities. During the earthquake, the PAZAPA School was damaged beyond repair. PAZAPA has since acquired new land and established temporary structures within which to continue classes. Both the special education school and the school for the deaf are functioning. Fortunately, none of the PAZAPA staff were hurt and stipends were provided to help them rebuild their homes. Below are excerpts from PAZAPA’s recently completed 2010 Annual Report.
Without a doubt, post earthquake Haiti was a complex and difficult humanitarian situation. However, the response could have been much better. Below is a blog by Simon Levine which asks why we have not learned from past emergencies and why it is that we may not learn from this one as well. Immediately after is a special issue of Humanitarian Exchange, published by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which explores the experiences of humanitarian actors involved in the earthquake response.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the opening of an apparel training center in Port au Prince. The intent is to help Haiti take advantage of expanded trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act that passed the Senate in May 2010. My main concern is that foreign investment, while sorely needed, will primarily occur in Port au Prince. Building a better Haiti depends in large part on building a decentralized Haiti where agriculture is viable and profitable. Rural development has been all too often neglected in Haiti, but is critical for the future.