UN revamps Haiti’s aid system

Anna Mehler Paperny
Globe and Mail Update
Saturday, January 30, 2010

PORT-AU-PRINCE
New distribution program prioritizes women with families in effort to stop chaotic stampedes over food convoys

Port-au-Prince — The United Nations is revamping its aid mission in Haiti after two weeks of chaotic stampedes to reach disorganized food convoys.

The new system, which starts this weekend, will set up 16 fixed aid sites across Port-au-Prince, each of which aims to give rice to 10,000 people a day – about 1.1 million people a week in a metropolitan area of about 4 million.

“[At first] we had to do everything we could, to put as much food out to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,“ said World Food Program spokesman Marcus Prior.

“But instead of using mobile, quick-and-dirty methods, we need a more organized response.”

It’s aid agencies’ attempt to come to terms with what Mr. Prior described as “the most complex situation we’ve ever faced” – a staggering need in a dense urban area whose infrastructure has been wiped out entirely. Humanitarian workers are used to providing aid to less dense, more rural spaces. In the crush of a devastated, tightly packed city, the logistics are entirely different.

“As part of the operation, we need to have more stable and robust distribution methods in place.”

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Quake has rendered Haiti’s government powerless

Anna Mehler Paperny
Saturday, January 30, 2010 – Globe and Mail

PORT-AU-PRINCE

As more decisions need to be made about how to rebuild country, it’s becoming clear just how crippled and dependent Haiti’s government has become

Port-au-Prince — Improvised stages under mango trees on the outskirts of a ruined capital are never the most dignified of locations, as far as post-disaster government press conferences go.

But a disagreement over tents and a couple of awkward moments at the Haitian government’s daily press briefings last week highlighted what’s going to become, increasingly, a bone of contention as recovery efforts continue in the wake of the biggest quake to hit Haiti in centuries.

Tents, President René Préval told the assembled crowd, are the single thing the country needs most now – 200,000 of them, to be exact. And quickly.

But the man who spoke directly after him wasn’t so sure.

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Job shortage adds to Haiti’s misery

Saturday, January 30, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

PORT-AU-PRINCE — In a folding chair among the mattresses and laundry lines outside the wreckage of his family’s house, Olivier Jean-Rénauld is writing his résumé.

The 33-year-old computer science graduate and his friend Chéry Luckson are applying for jobs with Médecins Sans Frontières, which has put out calls for logistics workers to help with the NGO’s massive aid effort. The jobs are part-time, Mr. Luckson acknowledges. But when no one has a job and the country’s already faltering economy has effectively ceased to exist, it’s better than nothing.

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As disease threat rises, vaccination program rolls out

Friday, January 29, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Aid agencies are rolling out an ambitious vaccine program in and around Port-au-Prince in an effort to stem what health experts fear is an impending public-health crisis.

Little by little, the biggest health challenge facing the millions of people displaced by the earthquake is becoming less about treatment for their injuries or even obtaining food and water.

Hundreds of thousands of people are living in an estimated 591 settlements in the Port-au-Prince area. As aid agencies struggle to find a better solution to the strung-together sheets under which people are taking shelter, tent-city denizens are taking matters into their own hands, building more permanent shelters out of scraps of wood and corrugated iron salvaged from the ruins.

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From a golf course to a community

Thursday, January 28, 2010 – Globe and Mail
PAUL WALDIE AND ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

PORT-AU-PRINCE — When the earthquake hit Haiti on Jan. 12, thousands of people who had lost their homes rushed to Port-au-Prince’s only golf course, the Pétionville Club.

Today, roughly 50,000 people live on the nine-hole course in a collection of shelters made from blankets, sticks, plastic tarps and tents.

The camp could have ended up like many others across the city – dirty, disorganized and lacking food and water. Instead, thanks to the work of the U.S. Army and some determined aid agencies such as Oxfam and Catholic Relief Services, the camp functions as something close to a community.

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Haiti’s youth in turmoil

Saturday, January 23, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

Haiti is in many ways a nation of youth – about half the population is under 18 years old, and 40 per cent under 15; more than a tenth of the country is between the ages of 5 and 9. But its children are also among the most exploited and undereducated in the hemisphere: Half the adult population is illiterate, and an entire underclass of children is relegated to domestic pseudo-slavery.

The country’s roiled politics and perpetually dysfunctional government has left a vacuum when it comes to public education, and private schools have become a popular micro-enterprise. A paucity of national education standards makes it even more difficult for Haiti to break out of poverty because its population is so chronically undereducated.

“Businesses in Haiti constantly complain they can’t get people to work. Anyone who has skills leaves, and [businesses] are forced to bring in people from the outside,” said Carlo Dade, executive director for FOCAL, the Canadian Foundation for the Americas.

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Haiti’s cultural capital a hub of Canadian involvement

Tuesday, January 19, 2010
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

The epicentre of Canada’s post-quake relief efforts is a once-picturesque, Carnavale-crazy seaside city on Haiti’s south coast. Artsy Jacmel’s burgeoning tourist industry was supposed to be leading the country toward economic independence before the city was devastated by the earthquake – schools, hospitals, storied architecture and brand-new hotels flattened.

The port city of 40,000 has an obvious Canadian connection as the family home of Governor-General Michaëlle Jean. But it has also been a significant centre of Canada’s public- and private-sector involvement in Haiti for more than a decade. And the thousands of troops and millions of dollars in Canadian aid pouring into devastated Jacmel could be as strategic as altruistic.

For Fanes Boursiquot, however, Jacmel is simply “the most beautiful place in Haiti.”

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Canada to give immigration priority to Haiti earthquake survivors

Anna Mehler Paperny
Globe and Mail Update
Saturday, January 16, 2010
New rules make it easier for Canadians to sponsor Haitians who have been devastated by disaster

Canada is giving immigration priority to Haitians “significantly and adversely” affected by the earthquake that shattered the country.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said today it will be easier for Canadians to sponsor Haitians for immigration, including family members, “protected persons” and children being adopted by Canadians.

“Immigration Canada will respond on a priority basis to those directly affected by the disaster; we will prioritize processing of new sponsorship applications made by Canadian citizens,” he said, adding that applicants “must identify themselves as being directly and significantly affected by the earthquake” and “must of course meet the standard admisssibility requirements of Canadian law.”

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1,415 Canadians still missing, days after Haiti earthquake

Saturday, January 16, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

The frantic hunt for survivors in the Port-au-Prince rubble is becoming a recovery of corpses – with close to 1,500 Canadians among the missing.

A hotline set up on the night of the earthquake has gotten calls from the anxious family members of 1,415 Canadians, all of whom are now registered as unaccounted for. Amid the chaos of emergency recovery their fate is unclear. But that staggering figure hints at this disaster’s unprecedented potential human toll for Canada, which for decades has demonstrated a special affinity for Haiti. More than 150,000 Canadians trace their roots to the crisis-racked country, which is second only to Afghanistan in the amount of Canadian aid it receives. Officials believe that at least 50,000 people perished in the earthquake.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says reconnaissance missions are under way and officials are in frequent touch with the families of the missing.

But even as aid begins to pour in, time is running out for those trapped by the quake.

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A nation in ruins

Thursday, January 14, 2010 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY
With reports from Tu Thanh Ha and The Associated Press

As the world scrambled to respond to the massive earthquake in Haiti, the scene in its densely populated capital was one of chaos and devastation that completely overwhelmed the country’s threadbare emergency resources. Gunshots rang out as night fell and widespread looting was reported.

It remained impossible yesterday to ascertain the number of people killed by the 7.0-magnitude quake, but Haitian President René Préval said casualties could extend beyond 100,000, including three Canadians.

Father Maurice Piquard of the Montfortaint congregation in Port-au-Prince spent Tuesday night outside and woke to a scene of destruction.

“No neighbourhood is spared … the entire city is destroyed,” he said, adding that many of his students were crushed beneath buildings and he’s still trying to find missing colleagues.

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