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Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Don’t blame Preval for Haiti crisis: 1st Lady

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 12:03 pm

He’s been accused of rigging the election of his successor, but Elisabeth Preval, wife of the outgoing Haitian president, says her husband’s not to blame for the country’s political mess.


As Haiti prepares to mark the first anniversary of the earthquake that leveled the impoverished Caribbean nation, President Rene Preval has the difficult job in his final weeks of presiding both over a natural disaster and electoral turmoil.


His wife told AFP that despite this he will be remembered positively.


“It’s not Preval who created the poverty and misery in Haiti. To the contrary, he worked for five years to create stability,” she said in an interview.


“Political stability is an important achievement that he left the country,” she said. “And this should be protected so that economic growth and social development get a longterm chance.”


Not all Haitians would agree.


The country, reeling from years of poverty, the deadly 2010 earthquake and a cholera outbreak, now finds itself in yet another round of political turmoil as candidates from a November presidential election bicker about who should go to a second round.


Supporters of the candidate that placed third believe Preval’s handpicked candidate, Jude Celestin, cheated in order to come second, clinching a spot in the run-off vote.


The third place candidate, popular singer Michel Martelly, singled out Preval for rigging the vote and demonstrators set fire to the ruling INITE party’s headquarters in December.


As yet, no decision has been taken on when to stage the run-off round — originally set for January 16 — and, as a result, Haiti finds itself in political chaos just when it needs leadership.


The first lady, who married Preval only a few months before the earthquake, says her husband can’t be blamed.


“Thanks to his political acumen, he has steered around the problems in the country, and brought together opposing groups for dialogue,” she said.


“Haiti was going in the right direction (before the quake). In December 2009, the key indicators showed positive economic growth, political stability, an easing of social conditions and growing investor confidence,” Elisabeth Preval said.


President Preval is due to step down February 7. He says he could stay in power as long as there is no clear successor.


“I am very anxious because the stability of Haiti is in danger if hte electoral crisis is not calmly resolved,” Elisabeth Preval said.


However, she insisted that her husband had no desire to hang on.


“The president and I have finished. There is only a little time left in his mandate. I can assure you that President Preval is determined to leave as soon as the new president and new parliament take office.”


“His role,” she added, “is to protect stability.”


 

Source: SGGP

No end in sight for Haiti rebuild: minister

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:11 am

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 6, 2011 (AFP) – It’s not clear when Haiti will be fully rebuilt, with five years needed just to rehouse the government, a top minister told AFP as the anniversary of the devastating 2010 earthquake approached.


The grim assessment by Jacques Gabriel, minister for public works, transport and communication, reflects how Haiti is struggling a year after the January 12 earthquake killed more than 220,000 and left some two million people homeless — about 20 percent of the population.

Kettely Gadet, one of many disabled by the earthquake that devastated Haiti nearly one year ago, is seated on a concrete bench January 6, 2011 in Port-au-Prijnce. AFP

“The task will be very heavy, not just in the city, but in the provinces that were concerned and perhaps nationally,” Gabriel told AFP in an interview at his temporary office in the once picturesque, now squalid and half-ruined capital Port-au-Prince.


“It’s hard to give a time-frame, to say ‘two, three, five years.'”


Gabriel, a trained engineer, said even rehousing the government of this stricken nation, where the presidential palace lies in ruins, is not imminent.


“The state should be able to finance the construction of the administrative complex in the next five years,” he said in the interview Wednesday.


Haitians living in fetid tent camps are furious that a year after the disaster they are no closer to moving back into real houses. About 1.3 million people had to take shelter in camps, with another 600,000 cramming in with relatives and other hosts.


Aid groups estimate that only five percent of the rubble has been cleared, impeding attempts to rebuild. Officials say that only 40 percent of the rubble will have gone by August, a year and a half after the tragedy.


Former US president Bill Clinton, who is helping to coordinate relief efforts, called that performance “totally unacceptable,” while Oxfam says “indecision” is to blame for the lack of progress.


Gabriel admitted that of 390,500 buildings surveyed, less than 1,000 have been repaired by the Haitian authorities.


But he said that rebuilding on such a large scale simply can’t be done quickly.


“We have made an evaluation of the damage caused by the quake and we are working on a reconstruction plan for the city center in Port-au-Prince,” he said.


“Before rebuilding, you need studies, a global approach, a vision of how to rebuild, what to rebuild, in what conditions and in what ways, taking into account the seismic hazard.”


Defending himself against widespread accusations of going too slow, he said, “you also need to educate people, train technicians and build in a new way to avoid new catastrophes.”


A first big rehousing project is due to be launched on Wednesday, the anniversary, with a planned construction of 3,000 apartments in a neighborhood near the flattened presidential palace.


“It is a project for public housing with high-rises, but respecting the seismic norms, and housing hundreds of families,” he said.

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Source: SGGP

Authorities in Haiti delay final vote results

In Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 at 6:28 am

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 19, 2010 (AFP) – Electoral authorities in Haiti announced late Sunday they had decided to delay publication of final presidential election results until the Organization of American States finishes its probe of the controversial vote.


The results were initially expected on Monday, but the Haitian Election Council said it had decided to “postpone publication of the results of the first round of voting until the contentious phase of the electoral process is over and an OAS mission requested by President Rene Preval finishes its work.”


Haiti’s chaotic election was carried out last month amid widespread allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of thousands of people, who either couldn’t get the necessary papers to vote or weren’t on the register.


Preval has asked the OAS to assist Haitian authorities in verifying the results of the vote.


Preliminary results of the first round of balloting have placed opposition candidate Mirlande Manigat in the lead with 31 percent of the vote. She is followed by ruling party candidate Jude Celestin who had 22 percent.

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Source: SGGP

Preval agrees not to release Haiti vote count: OAS

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

Haitian President Rene Preval has agreed not to release final results of the impoverished country’s disputed elections until after consultations with members of the Organization of American States, an official told AFP.

The candidates in Haiti’s presidential election.

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza “spoke with President Preval today and requested a delay of the announcement of the final results of the elections,” assistant secretary general Albert Ramdin told AFP on Friday.


After the call from the OAS, Preval “agreed that he would ask the (Provisional Electoral Council, CEP) not to announce any results for now, until the OAS can help with the clarification process,” Ramdin said.


The Haiti electoral commission has said it will review the results of the presidential elections released earlier this month after Preval’s handpicked candidate Jude Celestin defied predictions to win a place in a run-off vote.


“We will see if everybody agrees these terms of reference, then start the process of clarification and recount,” Ramdin said.


It was also important to not “only focus on the electoral aspect but also on creating momentum for political acceptance of the final outcome of the clarification process,” he added.


The CEP previously has set a December 20 deadline to announce final election results.


The electoral commission plans a recount of tally sheets in the presence of the three main candidates, although popular singer Michel Martelly — ousted in the first round — and Mirlande Manigat — a former first lady who topped the poll — have refused to take part.


Manigat meanwhile Friday said she welcomed a second round in the poll but not with three or more candidates, a possibility that was raised earlier this week by French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.


Ramdin on Wednesday visited Haiti after Preval asked for the OAS to set up a mission to help in the recount, which he said could be ready by early next week.


However, Ramdin said the special mission was not prepared to travel to Haiti unless the final election results were delayed.


“There’s no sense in clarifying the election results if those results are made final,” he said.


Ramdin also said the special mission “can only be successful if it is given access to all the information and an independent report is guaranteed.”


The OAS official said that over the weekend Celestin, Manigat and Martelly would be consulted to see if an agreement can be reached on how the recount is to be carried out.


Once an agreement is reached, he added, the recount will begin.


Martelly, who lost the number 2 spot in the November 28 polls by a mere 7,000 votes, on Wednesday warned that his supporters could “take to the streets” to protest what he insists were flawed election results,


“I’m telling you, if they come back to us with bad solutions, the people are going to take to the streets,” he told AFP.


The singer called this week for a re-run of the entire vote, with all 18 candidates taking part in the do-over, and the victor claiming Haiti’s presidency.


UN peacekeepers in riot gear had to restore order in major cities last week after at least five people were killed in politically charged riots, but the streets of Port-au-Prince have been calm since Friday.


Haiti’s chaotic election was carried out amid widespread allegations of fraud and the disenfranchisement of thousands of quake survivors and slum dwellers, who either couldn’t get the necessary papers to vote or weren’t on the register.


 

Source: SGGP

Haiti cholera spreading faster than predicted: U.N.

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:49 am

Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic is spreading faster than originally estimated and is likely to result in hundreds of thousands of cases and last up to a year, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday.


Since the disease first appeared in mid-October it has killed 1,344 people as of Friday in the poverty-stricken and earthquake-ravaged Caribbean nation.


But U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti Nigel Fisher said the real death toll might be “closer to two thousand than one” because of lack of data from remote areas, and the number of cases 60,000-70,000 instead of the official figure of around 50,000.


Addressing a U.N. news conference by video link from Haiti, Fisher said experts from the World Health Organization were now revising their estimate that the diarrheal disease, spread by poor sanitation, would cause 200,000 cases within six months.


“They are now revising that to 200,000 in closer to a three-month period. So this epidemic is moving faster,” he said, adding that it was now present in all 10 of Haiti’s provinces. “It’s going to spread.”


“The medical specialists all say that this cholera epidemic will continue through months and maybe a year at least, that we will see literally hundreds of thousands of cases,” Fisher said.


It was “almost impossible to stop the spread of these cases because it is so contagious, and those who carry the cholera bacterium often take days to show it, and in that (time) they may move anywhere,” he added.


Fisher said U.N. and other aid workers needed to “significantly ratchet up” their response, including going through faith groups to distribute chlorine tablets to purify water, and increasing the number of treatment centers.


But he said opening new treatment centers was running into resistance from local authorities because of people’s fears of having them in their neighborhoods.


The anti-cholera campaign has been complicated by unconfirmed reports that U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal brought the disease to Haiti, where it had been absent for 100 years.


At least two people were killed and dozens were injured in clashes last week between U.N. troops and protesters. The United Nations has blamed the trouble on political agitators looking to inflame tensions ahead of elections next Sunday.


Edmond Mulet, head of the U.N. MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission in Haiti, told the news conference there was still “no scientific evidence” the epidemic had come from the Nepalese and that all tests carried out had proved negative. But experts continued to investigate, he said.

Source: SGGP

Candidates call for vote postponement in cholera-hit Haiti

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:09 am

UN pleads for end to Haiti unrest

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 8:42 am

Anti-UN unrest spreads to Haiti capital

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 3:27 am

Some 200,000 at risk of cholera in Haiti, U.N. says

In Uncategorized on November 13, 2010 at 9:23 am

Cholera-hit Haiti told to prepare for worst

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:10 am

 Officials warned that Haiti should prepare for the worst as hundreds more patients packed into hospitals amid a deadly cholera outbreak that has claimed almost 300 lives.


A total of 4,147 people were being treated for the disease, said the head of Haiti’s health department Gabriel Thimote, while eight new fatalities brought the death toll to 292.


The World Health Organization (WHO) warned the outbreak was far from over and Haiti should prepare for the disease to hit its capital Port-au-Prince, which is teeming with squalid tent cities after January’s catastrophic earthquake.


“We cannot say it is contained,” WHO’s cholera chief, Claire-Lise Chaignat, told journalists in Geneva.


A woman checks on her cholera-stricken child at Saint Nicolas hospital in Saint-Marc, 100 kms (62 miles) north of Port-au-Prince.

“I think we haven’t reached the peak,” she said, recommending that Haitian authorities prepare for the “worst case scenario” — cholera in the capital.


The acute intestinal infection is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with the Vibrio cholerae bacteria, which is thought to have infected the Artibonite River, a major artery that runs through Haiti to the coast near Saint Marc — the outbreak’s epicenter.


Although easily treated, cholera has a short incubation period — sometimes just a few hours — and causes acute watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death.


Some 1.3 million people displaced by the 7.0 quake are still crammed into thousands of makeshift camps, and aid agencies have voiced fears cholera could spread like wildfire in such conditions.


Fear of the disease is turning to anger, as Haitians begin to blame foreign aid workers and peacekeepers for the Caribbean nation’s first ever outbreak of cholera.


Rumors have swirled this week that Nepalese troops with the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) were the source of the outbreak.


The mission rushed to deny the claims, insisting the mission “uses seven septic tanks” situated far away from the Artibonite River.


The installation of a vital treatment center in Saint Marc, meanwhile, had to be halted after some 300 residents confronted doctors and aid workers.


Fuelled by fear the facility would spread cholera to two nearby schools, residents of Saint Marc threw stones at medical workers of the international medical agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF).


The specialized treatment center was being set up outside the overwhelmed St Nicolas hospital here, where some 800 patients are already being treated with hundreds of new cases arriving each day, officials said.


Argentine troops with MINUSTAH stepped in to stop the protest, and on Wednesday they were overseeing the dismantling of the facility, some 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Port-au-Prince.


“It was a big misunderstanding,” Haitian doctor Yfto Maquette told AFP in the hospital’s chaotic courtyard overflowing with patients who were supposed to have been moved to the new facility.


“The fact that we don’t have the center is stopping us from effectively treating people,” said an MSF official who declined to be named.


“We need to get the message out that cholera is a disease that we are very experienced in treating,” he said.

Maquette pointed out there was still need for basic response tools for the crisis, saying the medical team “only has one ambulance to bring people into the hospital.”

MSF, which has eight facilities open to treat cholera infections in the region, said however the fact fewer deaths were being reported was a good sign.

“The fact that we are seeing fewer severe cases is positive,” said Federica Nogarotto, the MSF field coordinator in Saint-Marc.

“It suggests that people are taking precautions and that there is a greater understanding in the community of the need to maintain strict hygiene and to seek medical assistance at the first sign of symptoms.”

Mexico said Wednesday it has sent military cargo plane with 11 doctors and 2.2 tons of medical supplies to help Haiti tackle the cholera outbreak.

So far, the Americas’ poorest country has managed to avoid the nightmare scenario of the epidemic taking hold in the unsanitary tent cities that cling to the hilly slopes of Port-au-Prince.

But worryingly for doctors, a number of patients in the town of Arcahaie said they had drunk only treated water before falling ill.

The treated water, the main source of “clean” water for most of the population in the region, is taken from the Artibonite river.

Source: SGGP