UN revamps Haiti’s aid system

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

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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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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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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Cities taking the lead on climate change

Saturday, December 5, 2009 – Globe and Mail

They can talk about the environment at a United Nations summit, but the action is at your local recycling depot and bus stop, and in your water taps, light bulbs and street-side bike stands. That’s why the real show during the Copenhagen talks might be on the sidelines – at a parallel summit of cities. And there, Canadians are at the forefront.

Cities argue that in an urbanizing world where at least half of emissions are created in municipalities, they are best suited to fight climate change. Just give them the resources and clout.

“We want to show the international community that cities are acting,” says Martha Delgado Peralta, environment minister for Mexico City, once the most polluted municipality in the world.

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