Saturday, June 12, 2010

It is time to halt the impending disaster in Haiti

By Jean H Charles:

There has been rain every day since the beginning of the rainy season in Haiti. The weather experts have predicted some twenty-three hurricanes till October. More than one million refugees are living in sordid condition under tents that now have holes in them in a setting where torrential rain will pour in from the scorched mountain-land, deprived of trees. Yet the chief of the United Nations in Haiti, embedded with the Preval government. has no other emergency action than the election preparation.

Jean H Charles MSW, JD is Executive Director of AINDOH Inc a non profit organization dedicated to building a kinder and gentle Caribbean zone for all. He can be reached at: jeanhcharles@aol.comThe civil society, the political parties, the masses of Haiti have all decided not to go into the electoral process with this present government. All his elections have been flawed, with the use of political terror as the best instrument to keep opponents at bay. Mr Edmund Mulet has embarked upon the mulette (donkey in the Creole language) of Preval to be the cheerleader for a flawed election that will seal the status quo of squalor for another five years in Haiti.

It is time for John Holmes, the United Nations Humanitarian Chief, to halt the impending disaster. Some sixteen years ago, 800.000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in Rwanda under the watch of Kofi Annan as the UN representative in that country. Mr Holmes has twice expressed his frustration and his outrage at the slow pace of relief to the refugees in Haiti. Showing his displeasure is not enough. Real life is at risk. Another Rwanda (a former UN trust territory) is on the way in Haiti, caused by preventable natural conditions.

An impartial finding should reveal that the main obstacle to relief for the people of Haiti is the very Haitian government. The largest land owner in the Republic of Haiti is first and foremost the Haitian government, followed by the Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church. By not releasing land for the resettlement or urging the refugees to return to their villages with adequate support for self sustenance, the government is compromising the recovery.

The Haitian government at home and abroad has no idea how to run the business of governance for the benefit of his people. A case at point, I was at the Caribbean Week in New York hobnobbing with the tourism ministers and the directors of tourism from all over the Caribbean.

I asked the CTO coordinator (Caribbean Tourism Organization) why Haiti was not represented at the market place? He told me for years he has been trying to lure Haiti into participating to the exchange. He has sent several e-mails to the minister of tourism. He finally met him; the laconic answer of Lionel Delatour, Haiti’s tourism minister reflects the familiar arrogance of his ministry. “I have received your many e-mails, and, I did not open them.”

A recent editorial in the New York Times, reproduced by National Public Radio, pictures the callous nature and the poor planning of the Haitian government. A temporary shelter built near the old military airport, ‘stands mostly empty with battered tents, flapping in the wind, guarded and waiting for a refugee influx that has not been arranged.’ The facility was visited in March by the writer who returned in June to find out that the camp is still unoccupied.

In the United States, advocacy by politicians and ordinary citizens have forced the American government to grant TPS (temporary protection status) to the Haitian people, as those from Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Poor communication and timid leadership from the Haitian ministry abroad or the Haitian consulates have resulted in a low participation in the program. Out of 300,000 estimated illegal Haitian entrants, only 40,000 Haitian people have profited from the policy that will stop as of July 20, 2010.

The generosity of the world towards the Haitian people is on the verge of going to waste due to the arrogance of the senior UN resident, Mr Edmond Mulet, and the callousness of the Haitian government. The Haitian people will have to deal with its government. It is time for John Holmes to deal with his agent in Haiti and halt the impending disaster!

June 12, 2010