Three weeks after back to back hurricanes devastated the Gonaives region of Haiti, many residents are still homeless and still living on their roofs. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador (and blogger) Mia Farrow visited Gonaives a week after the storms slammed the city.
At CGI last week, World Food Programme Director Josette Sheeran announced that she would travel to Gonaives to see the devastation first hand. She now reports that “Haiti’s misery index is rising” and that WFP needs $54 million for food, logistics and emergency telecommunications to meet urgent hunger needs.
“The US, Japan, EC, Switzerland and Canada have stepped up with almost $11 million and we can meet urgent food needs until the end of November.
Despite this show of generosity from many nations, we need more help so we can continue with the emergency operation and our other programmes here that will contribute to the longer-term solution President Préval and the people of Haiti so desperately need,” she said.
Almost one month after the disaster struck destroying roads and 3,000 houses, three million cubic metres of mud still need to be removed from the city. Fifty thousand people continue to take refuge in shelters.
By Oisin Walton
I am among the two teams of Telecoms Sans Frontieres (TSF) emergency telecommunications specialists who deployed to Haiti as it was hit by four cyclones–Fay, Gustav, Hanna, and Ike–all in less than a month. TSF’s teams deployed from bases in Nicaragua and in France to support communications both among humanitarian relief workers, and for Haitians who had been driven from their homes by flood waters.
The hub of humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti is in Gonaives, a northern city that has been mostly destroyed by the hurricanes. Local authorities estimate that as many nearly 56,000 families have been affected by the cyclones, and living conditions here are extremely difficult.
Although water levels in Gonaives’ streets have lowered, mud has taken over. Gonaives is surrounded by hills devastated by deforestation, triggering mudslides that pour into the city. Daily storms make removing mud from homes and roads impossible, and aid agencies fear the stagnating water will spread diseases if it is not removed quickly.
By Adele Waugaman
Exactly one month ago I offered this guest post about the deployment of emergency telecommunications specialists to Georgia to help reconnect communications and communities in the aftermath of the conflict in the breakaway region of South Ossetia that injured hundreds, and displaced tens of thousands from their homes.
The UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation Technology Partnership supported two teams of telecommunications specialists that deployed immediately to affected areas — Télécoms Sans Frontièrs (TSF), an NGO specializing in post-emergency communications, and World Food Programme (WFP) the UN’s lead agency tasked with security communications.
See TSF at work in Georgia here:
And learn about the WFP’S special program, funded by the Technology Partnership, to improve ICT coordination for humanitarian aid workers, like those deployed to Georgia, and more recently, Haiti, here.
by Adele Waugaman
It is important to remember that the Russian incursion into Georgia on August 8 has created not only a complex political situation but a humanitarian emergency that requires immediate attention. Aerial bombings and street fighting injured many and displaced waves of up to 100,000 civilians, according to estimates by the UN refugee agency. And, as we attempt to put the pieces back together, both the political negotiations and the humanitarian efforts will need world attention and support.
In recent days, both the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the non-profit group Télécoms Sans Frontiéres (TSF) have mobilized their emergency telecommunications services in support of the humanitarian relief efforts underway.
Yesterday, Mark cited a UNICEF report on the abhorrent crimes committed against children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Via FP Passport, though, I came across this somewhat surprising article in the Christian Science Monitor, describing that, even according to the UN force operating in Haiti, the situation is not quite as bad as it seems:
Kidnappings, gang violence, drug trafficking, corrupt police, flaming road blockades.
The reports out of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere are enough to keep the most adventurous traveler away.
But according to security experts and officials from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is no more violent than any other country in Latin America.
“It’s a big myth,” says Fred Blaise, spokesman for the UN police force in Haiti. “Port-au-Prince is no more dangerous than any big city. You can go to New York and get pickpocketed and held at gunpoint. The same goes for cities in Mexico or Brazil.”
Haiti’s negative image has devastated its economy, whose once-booming tourism industry is now limited largely to aid workers, peacekeepers, and diplomats.
But UN data indicate that the country could be among the safest in the region.
While such data does not diminish the reprehensible nature of any number of kidnappings and rapes — nor is it entirely reassuring to think that one may “only” be “pickpocketed and and held at gunpoint” — there does seem to be some degree of sensationalism in reporting rampant violence in Haiti. The situation there is still intolerable, with hundreds of thousands suffering from hunger and extreme poverty, but perhaps a little tourism would help Haitians more than it might put travelers at risk.
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.