jeudi 14 juillet 2011

How we helped pave Haiti’s road to hell

This article is from The Tyee, the award-winning online source for news and ideas based in Vancouver. Articles from The Tyee will appear regularly on the Opinion page of thestar.com.
Since last October, cholera has so far infected more than 370,000 Haitians and killed more than 5,500 of them. A proportionate epidemic in Canada would have sickened 1.2 million of us, and killed more than 18,000.
It was a totally avoidable disaster. Worse yet, it came to Haiti with the United Nations peacekeepers who were supposed to be protecting the Haitians. Since Canada is involved with MINUSTAH, the UN agency that effectively runs Haiti, we share some of the responsibility for inflicting needless suffering and for failing to admit it.
The outbreak started along the Meille River in a rural area, downstream from a MINUSTAH peacekeepers’ camp that had just received a contingent of Nepali soldiers. Suspicion fell on them at once.
After all, the soldiers had left Nepal in late September during a cholera outbreak. While they all had medical exams (including some stool tests), they then had 10 days’ home leave before reassembling in Kathmandu.
The Nepalese army denied its troops were to blame. MINUSTAH also denied the accusations, claiming the Nepalis had tested negative for cholera.
When the UN finally investigated the origin of the outbreak, it indirectly admitted the Nepalis had brought the disease. But it didn’t mention them explicitly. The UN spent more time blaming the Haitians for their lack of clean water and a sewage system.
Meanwhile, a team led by Renaud Piarroux of the Université de la Méditerranée did its own survey. Piarroux has just published a detailed report in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Piarroux’s devastating report finds evidence that “strongly suggests” the epidemic emerged from the Nepalis’ camp.
Worse yet, Piarroux argues that to infect people using water from the Meille and Artibonite rivers, the quantity of Vibrio cholerae bacteria would have to come from at least one seriously sick cholera victim in the camp.
This directly refutes Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s representative in Haiti, who had claimed “negative” test results on the Nepalis.
Cholera causes spectacular diarrhea and vomiting, so everyone in the base would have known about it. Suppressing information about such an outbreak would have required the collusion of senior Nepali officers, MINUSTAH officials, and at least some health-care professionals in WHO and the Haitian public health ministry.
But MINUSTAH said only that Piarroux’s study had been followed “by many others . . . each with different possible scenarios.” To my knowledge, no such alternate studies exist, and MINUSTAH didn’t cite any. We have only the UN report and that of Piarroux.
So the Piarroux report is an unrefuted indictment of the United Nations and its agents in Haiti, including the World Health Organization. The UN denials and press releases only aggravate the problem.
WHO faces a serious charge of suppressing or denying vital information about the epidemic while it spread explosively through the whole island of Hispaniola, including the Dominican Republic.
When the next serious outbreak arrives, therefore, we will wonder whether the scare is really a scam or a coverup. Such skepticism could cost lives.
Canada’s credibility is also in question. Many Canadian doctors have worked in Haiti. A Canadian, Nigel Fisher, is the UN’s Haiti Humanitarian Coordinator, supervising UN projects and coordinating with non-governmental organizations. He has said nothing publicly about the Piarroux report.
Nor has our last Governor General, the much-beloved Haitian-born Michaëlle Jean, who is now the UNESCO special representative to Haiti. When Canadian health experts, humanitarian coordinators and spokespersons are silent in the face of a UN coverup, they look complicit.
Importing cholera looks like incompetence made worse by misplaced political priorities. In September 2010, 5,044 Nepali troops were serving on peacekeeping missions. The UN was reimbursing Nepal to the tune of $1,028 (U.S.) per soldier per month.
Demand for infectious peacekeepers being zero, Nepal would therefore stand to lose over $5 million a month, and the UN might have trouble finding replacements.
The Piarroux report has embarrassed all concerned, including the Canadians in Haiti who have not protested MINUSTAH’s denials. It’s also a reminder of how little the UN has done to eliminate the squalor that cholera thrives on.
Dr. Rupert Virchow, the 19th-century doctor and politician, famously said that “medicine is a social science and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.” In the case of Haiti’s cholera, Canada and the UN have committed malpractice on a very large scale.
Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee, where a longer version of this article appeared. He blogs about cholera and other diseases at H5N1.

Clinton Foundation pledges to fix Haiti trailers

Posted by Isabel Macdonald
  • July 14, 2011
Trailer at Sainte Thérèse de Darbonne in Haiti
Yesterday, the Clinton Foundation pledged to respond to the findings of an Investigative Fund/Nation magazine investigation that exposed a range of problems with trailers the foundation provided after the Haiti earthquake to serve as both classrooms and hurricane shelters. My reporting partner, Isabel Doucet, and I found that the trailers, one of the first projects approved by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, were plagued by mold, extreme heat and formaldehyde emissions. In addition, a leading structural engineer found them not to be hurricane-proof.
The investigation, posted by The Nation on July 11, was quickly picked up by the Associated Press, BBC World Service and Democracy Now! A Clinton Foundation COO Laura Graham was quoted in a July 12 AP article saying that the foundation run by the former US president, who serves as UN Special Envoy for Haiti and co-chairs the Recovery Commission, plans to send experts to Haiti to explore the article's allegations and fix any “structural deficiencies” in the trailers.
On July 14, Dr. Paul Farmer, who serves as Clinton’s Deputy special envoy for Haiti, told Democracy Now! that he would personally look into the issues raised in the investigation, which received additional support from the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting.
Laboratory tests conducted as part of the investigation found that one of the trailers has an unsafe level of formaldehyde. The temperature inside the trailers, which were used as classrooms by more than a thousand Haitian school children this year, regularly exceeds 100 degrees, a byproduct of the Clinton Foundation’s failure to provide electricity generators, as it had originally told the Recovery Commission it would. And despite an epidemic of cholera, a disease that is easily preventable with proper sanitation, the foundation has likewise failed to follow through on building the restrooms it told the commission would be part of the construction project.
June marked the beginning of Haiti's hurricane season, and meteorologists project that Haiti could face up to eighteen tropical storms this year. The town that received the faulty trailers, Léogâne, which was flooded by Hurricane Tomas last year, is relying on them as Plan A in the municipality's emergency response.
Graham had previously told us that experts were involved in the decision to award the Clinton Foundation trailer contract to Clayton Homes, a manufacturer currently being sued by Hurricane Katrina survivors who were exposed to unsafe levels of formaldehyde in the mobile homes Clayton sold to FEMA. However, she declined to disclose the names of these experts or reveal any details about the bidding process.
We hope they'll be more transparent about the experts they're sending to examine the trailers now.

UN mission in Haiti deploys troops in slums

A United Nations spokeswoman says the world body's peacekeeping mission in Haiti has deployed troops to several slums in Port-au-Prince to crack down on gangs and criminals.
Barbara Mertz of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti says "Operation Phoenix" will use more than 2,100 soldiers to catch criminals in Cite Soleil, Bel-Air and Martissant. All three slums are longtime havens for gang activity.
The operation announced Thursday is being supported by U.N. police and Haiti's National Police. It is intended to last for several days.
Once the U.N. force secures the three neighborhoods, the troops plan to clear the streets of debris and garbage, set up health care clinics, and repair roads.

Wrangle over prime minister holds up Haiti recovery

14 Jul 2011 19:40
Source: reuters // Reuters
* Pop-star-turned-president in tussle with parliament
 * Impasse delays urgent post-quake reconstruction moves
 * Diplomats, donors impatient to have government in place

By Joseph Guyler Delva
 PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 14 (Reuters) - Two months after taking office with a promise to "wake up" Haiti, President Michel Martelly is battling to install a new government and the urgent task of rebuilding from last year's earthquake is on hold.
 Lawmakers have opposed his choices for prime minister in an early run-in with Haiti's messy political reality for the shaven-headed former pop star and novice president elected in March. He has promised to rebrand his nation from a development basket case into a Caribbean success story. [ID:nN07105065]
 Diplomats and donors say the Western Hemisphere's poorest state desperately needs a new administration in place to advance recovery from the 2010 quake that killed tens of thousands and wrecked much of the capital Port-au-Prince.
 "As long as there is not agreement on the prime minister we are completely stuck," said Roland Van Hauwermeirin, country director in Haiti for international humanitarian agency Oxfam.
 Oxfam says Haiti's leaders urgently need to relocate more than 600,000 quake survivors still living under tents and tarpaulins. This requires swift decisions to resolve land tenure obstacles and approve resettlement housing projects.
 Other pressing tasks to be dealt with are a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 5,500 people since October and the threat of life-threatening winds, floods and landslides as the annual hurricane season moves toward its active phase.
 A parliament dominated by supporters of the country's previous president last month rejected Martelly's first pick for premier. [ID:nN1E75K230] Lawmakers are also opposing his second selection -- Bernard Gousse, a former justice minister.
 Gousse, accused by critics of once leading a crackdown against backers of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was to present his credentials to the Senate for review on Thursday.
 But 16 members of the 30-seat Senate have already signed a public statement saying they oppose Gousse as prime minister. Martelly said if Gousse was not accepted as premier, putting a new government in place could take six months.
 "We have the hurricane season and the cholera epidemic to deal with. I need to deliver the promises I made to the population," Martelly said this week after cutting short a visit to Europe to tackle the institutional impasse.
 Huge expectations surrounded Martelly's March 20 election after his tough-talking populist campaign promises to improve life for Haitians won over voters weary with Haiti's crushing widespread poverty and bickering, self-enriching politicians.
 His whirlwind campaign was heavily driven by his popularity as a successful star of Haiti's catchy Konpa carnival music.

 "Now that Martelly is on the inside, he's starting to see how difficult it really is to govern Haiti," Robert Maguire, professor of international affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University in Washington, told Reuters. "When you're the 'president of Konpa' that's one thing, when you're president of the country, that's a different thing."
 "If this starts to tumble down into demonstrations in the street ... then we're in a big heap of trouble," Maguire said.
 The concern about the political deadlock appears to be shared by major donors such as the United States, which invested considerable funds and active diplomacy into steering through the often chaotic Haitian elections which were roiled by serious fraud charges.
 "To decide on future projects, we need a counterpart, a Haitian government that we don't have now ... we are impatient to work in cooperation with a new government," U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten said this week.
 There were some signs that Martelly might be able to shift the blame for the government paralysis onto parliament, presenting lawmakers as selfish spoilers seeking to preserve their political power when the country needed action.
 When Martelly strolled back on foot to his palace after visiting parliament on Wednesday, supporters chanted criticism of lawmakers and shouted: "We need a government now." (Additional reporting in Miami and writing by Pascal Fletcher; editing by Mohammad Zargham) http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/wrangle-over-prime-minister-holds-up-haiti-recovery

Haïti-Rép. Dominicaine : Une étudiante haïtienne assassinée

P-au-P, 14 juil. 2011 [AlterPresse] --- Une étudiante haïtienne, Roodline Lindor, 20 ans, a été retrouvée morte à Santo Domingo en République Dominicaine mercredi 13 juillet, confirme le Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et Refugiés(GARR). Selon des informations publiées par la presse dominicaine sur internet, le corps a été retrouvé dans une maison abandonnée à l’est de la capitale dominicaine.
La tension avait commencé à monter alors que la famille de la victime et ses amis ont gagné les rues réclamant que son corps soit transféré par l’institut chargé de faire l’autopsie.
Roodline Lindor a disparu depuis le 12 juillet dernier dans la matinée tandis qu’elle devait obtenir un contrat pour un logement, selon la presse dominicaine.
Aucune information n’a encore été fournie par les autorités dominicaines et haitiennes. [kft gp apr 14/07/2011 11:00]

Plusieurs bandits appréhendés grâce au nouveau dispositif sécuritaire

Au cours des derniers jours les forces de l'ordre ont repris l'initiative au centre commerciale de Port-au-Prince favorisant un retour au calme.
Mardi un groupe de 6 bandits, dont deux femmes, impliqués dans plusieurs cambriolages, ont été interpellés à la rue traversière. Ces malfrats venaient de cambrioler un nouvelle entreprise, rapporte l'inspecteur divisionnaire Dupont Joseph. Il assure que 2 armes à feu ont été également récupérées.
Dans le cadre de cette nouvelle offensive les policiers de Pétion ville ont appréhendé Fritzner Jean-Louis, évadé du pénitencier National. Il avait été incarcéré en 2006 pour l'enlèvement de l'épouse de l'entrepreneur Daniel-Gérard Rouzier.
Madame Carine Abraham Rouzier, la femme de l'ex-Premier ministre désigné Daniel-Gérard Rouzier a été enlevée en 2005 non loin de sa résidence à Pétion-ville et séquestrée avant d'être libérée contre le versement d'une rançon. En cavale depuis le 12 janvier 2010, Jean Louis est actuellement incarcéré au commissariat de Port-au-Prince.
Par ailleurs, un policier affecté à l'unité de sécurité générale du Palais National a été appréhendé pour son implication dans un kidnapping. Emile Augustin a été écroué mercredi au pénitencier national, aurait avoué son implication dans l'enlèvement de la veuve du journaliste Sony Bastien.
Les autorités policières ont réitéré ces derniers jours leur détermination à rétablir un climat sécuritaire indispensable pour l'arrivée des investisseurs étrangers. Le directeur départemental de l'Ouest de la PNH, Michel Ange Gédéon avait fait état d'une baisse du nombre de cas d'enlèvement au cours de ces derniers mois. Il assure que 6 cas de kidnapping avaient été enregistrés en juin 2011.
LLM / radio Métropole Haïti

Première visite du président Martelly au Parlement

La visite surprise du chef d'Etat haïtien, Michel Martelly, aux parlementaires est considérée comme une visite de courtoisie par un grand nombre d'élus. Le premier secrétaire de la chambre basse, Guy Gérard Georges, assure que le président Martelly avait a maintes reprises manifesté le désir de rendre visite aux législateurs.
Une visite brève mais empreinte de cordialité. Le président Martelly a salué chaque parlementaire individuellement dans une ambiance joviale.
Le sénateur Youri Latortue (AAA) accueille cette visite comme un message du chef de l'Etat sur la nécessité d'une bonne collaboration entre les élus. Il note que la visite a été brève moins de 10 minutes pour les deux chambres. Le chef de file de AAA rappelle que le président René Préval avait également au début de son mandat en mai 2006 effectué une visite de courtoisie aux parlementaires.
Interrogé sur le sens de cette visite, le sénateur Kelly Bastien (Inité) refuse de la considérer comme faisant partie d'une campagne de charme dans le cadre du processus de ratification du Premier Ministre. Il signale qu'en mois de 5 minutes le président Martelly ne saurait convaincre les sénateurs pétitionnaires.
A l'issue de la rencontre avec les parlementaires le président Martelly a regagné le Palais National à pied. Ce qui est devenu une particularité du président Martelly. Une grande foule s'était massée devant le Parlement et a accompagné le président non sans lancer des slogans hostiles aux parlementaires.
LLM / radio Métropole Haïti

Les relations entre les deux branches de l'exécutif sont harmonieuses

Jean Max Bellerive préfère s'identifier comme Premier Ministre sortant au lieu de démissionnaire. Loin d'être passif dans l'attente de l'entrée en fonction d'un nouveau chef de gouvernement, M. Bellerive participe régulièrement à des séances de travail avec le chef d'Etat.
Le président Martelly affirme que ses rencontres sont quotidiennes et visent à améliorer les conditions de vies des haïtiens en dépit de l'absence d'un gouvernement. Martelly se réjouit de la disponibilité du Premier Ministre Bellerive et assure que l'exécutif doit aller de l'avant avec ou sans ratification du Premier Ministre designé.
Au cours des dernières séances de travail le dossier des engrais et semences pour les agriculteurs et la réhabilitation du gymnasium Vincent ont été au centre des discussions.
Jean Max Bellerive a promis d'accompagner le président Martelly afin d'éviter tout blocage durant la période de transition politique. Il assure que l'administration publique et les membres du gouvernement doivent aider à la matérialisation des promesses du chef d'Etat.
Le Premier Ministre est d'autant plus préoccupé que ce trimestre est celui de la saison cyclonique et des préparatifs pour la rentrée des classes.
Le chef d'Etat haïtien espère que le Premier Ministre et le ministre de la justice pourront identifier des ressources disponibles afin de lancer les projets prioritaires notamment dans le domaine de l'éducation.
LLM / radio Métropole Haïti