One week after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, it’s now clear that the initial phase of the US-led relief operation has conformed to the three fundamental tendencies that have shaped the more general course of the island’s recent history. It has adopted military priorities and strategies. It has sidelined Haiti’s government and ignored the needs of the majority of its people. And it has proceeded in ways that reinforce the already harrowing gap between rich and poor. These three tendencies aren’t just connected, they are mutually reinforcing – and they look likely to continue to govern the imminent reconstruction effort unless determined political action is taken to avoid them.
Haiti is the only country where slaves won their own independence, in a war that left a third of the population dead and the economy in ruins. Today it is not only one of the poorest countries in the world, it is also one of the most polarised and unequal – in terms of wealth as well as access to political power. A small clique of rich and well-connected families continues to dominate the country and its economy, while the vast majority of the population live on less than $2 a day. [continued…]
Aid agencies continued to warn against adopting children from Haiti today, amid unconfirmed reports that a number of children who had gone missing from hospitals in the devastated country may have been trafficked.
An adviser for Unicef told reporters that about 15 children had disappeared from hospitals, presumed taken.
Jean Luc Legrand was quoted as saying: “Unicef has been working in Haiti for many years and we knew the problem with the trade of children in Haiti which existed before, and unfortunately many of these trade networks have links with the international adoption ‘market’.” [continued…]
Haiti’s government provided a preliminary assessment of the earthquake’s body count on Saturday, putting it at more than 150,000, and declared that the search for survivors trapped in the rubble would soon be coming to an end.
Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, Haiti’s culture and communications minister, said that 150,000 bodies from the streets had been collected and buried in the past 11 days.
She also said that there were at least 250,000 people homeless and that 200,000 residents of Port-au-Prince and its outskirts had moved to the provinces since the earthquake hit. [continued…]