As Haiti's largest city, what happens in Port-au-Prince impacts the whole country - including hospitals which are unable to acquire fuel for their generators. Hospitals with solar power have been better able to cope. Konbit Sante helped the Hopital Convention Baptiste d’Haiti (HCBH) in Cap Haitien purchase solar panels which, in this sunny country, ensures at least some power is available. Below is an update from Konbit Sante on the situation in Cap Haitien. Updates from NGOs outside Port-au-Prince remind us that Haiti's struggles are nationwide.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a brief but stark warning about the threat posed to Haitian children by gang violence, cholera, and malnutrition. The situation in Haiti is difficult, but especially so for children. Emboldened gangs, a growing cholera epidemic, and worsening malnutrition are negatively impacting the well-being of Haitian children. The government is weak, the gangs are in many cases better armed than the police, and core development issues like agriculture, education, infrastructure, and human rights have once again taken a back seat to insecurity. Restoring security won't solve Haiti's problems but it is at least a prequisite.
With gangs operating in almost total impunity throughout Port-au-Prince, catastrophic levels of hunger in some areas, and a growing cholera epidemic, the United States has decided to back a multinational rapid reaction force to Haiti. This will not be a UN peacekeeping force and the USA is expected to play a major role in its operations. At the same time, the USA has deployed a USAID Disaster Assessment Response Team (DART) and is expected to ramp up its humanitarian support. The current situation is untenable and hopefully the multi-national force can help stabilise Haiti somewhat. The full article by MIchael Wilner and Jacqueline Charles in the Miami Herald follows.
Insecurity in Port au Prince and beyond continues to negatively impact the economy, health care, and other basic services throughout the country. MSF/Doctors Without Borders, which operates in insecure environments around the world, has temporarily shut down a second time. Due to lack of fuel, clinics are suspending operations - this at a time, when cholera cases are increasing. The UN is calling for a humanitarian corridor through which both fuel and aid workers can transit safely. It wouldn't solve the fundamental problems but it would at least reduce the severity fo the current situation. The full article article by Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald follows.
According to the United Nations, over 470 people have been killed, injured or are missing in recent violence as gangs war with each other and the government. Government officials have been told to stay home and the violence is getting closer to key governmental institutions including the National Palace. This is not the first time that elites have used gangs as mercenaries and/or pawns for achieving their political or economic ambitions. What is new is the sheer scale of the violence, made worse by illicit shipments of weapons. The Haitian police are simply out numbered and out-gunned. Unless the Haitian government and its partners can develop sufficient numbers of well-trained, well-armed, sufficiently paid and reasonable accountable police officers with the right leadership, the situation will only get worse. The full NYT article by Maria Abi-Habib and Andre Paultre follows.
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.
A bit late in posting this, but in response to the recent New York Times series, a major French bank is hiring researchers to look into the history of its involvement in Haiti. It is not straight-forward given mergers and the loss of almost all relevant documentation over the years, hence the need for outside expertise. Haiti's history is one of exploitation by individual, institutions, and countries. As the article by Matt Apuzzo points out, foreign banks have played a significant role in maintaining an ecosystem of exploitation. This investigation is welcome and would not be happening without the NYT journalists and their reporting.
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.
The New York Times has run an excellent multi-part series on how the United States and France impoverished and de-stabilised while enriching themselves. The piece, copied below, is entitled "The Ransom" and covers how Wall Street, and in particular the Bank that became Citigroup, urged the US occupation of Haiti. Other pieces in this series include "The Root of Haiti's Misery: Reparation to Enslavers", "Haiti's Lost Billions", and "How a French Bank Captured Haiti" and "Demanding Reparations and Ending Up in Exile." Both in the past and at present Haitians struggle with racism, corporate greed, and political exploitation of other countries. This aspect of Haitian history is rarely tought in the USA or France - but it should be.
Good News! Upon having their generator stolen by a gang, the situation was grim for the Saint Croix Hospital in Leogane and the many people who depended upon it. With the support of Miami Herald readers, a new generator was purchased and transported to Leogane by boat in order to avoid having it stolen by gangs again. With their generous support the gang lost, the hospital re-opens, and much needed care can be provided to pregnant women. A small group of people committed to Haiti made a real difference in this situation.