Job shortage adds to Haiti’s misery

Saturday, January 30, 2010 – Globe and Mail

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

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

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

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

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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1,415 Canadians still missing, days after Haiti earthquake

Saturday, January 16, 2010 – Globe and Mail

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
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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Earthquake ‘catastrophe’ hits Haiti

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 – Globe and Mail
With reports from the Associated Press

One of the most powerful earthquakes to ever hit the region slammed impoverished Haiti, leaving the nation in chaos and the global community scrambling to assess the damage and bring aid.

The 7.0 earthquake hit several kilometres southwest of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince in the late afternoon, but multiple aftershocks continued into the late evening, creating confusion on the ground and internationally.

It was impossible to assess the extensive damage, although reports came in that among the many buildings that came crashing to the ground, a hospital in nearby Pétionville was crushed and both the presidential palace and the headquarters of the United Nations’ peace-building mission were extensively damaged.

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