On the Way Forward in Haiti

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 3, 2010

More about the crisis and how you can help:state.gov/haitiquake

Today, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and State Department Counselor Cheryl Mills provided an update on the situation in Haiti. Ms. Mills said:

"We've been working very closely with the Haitian Government. We have continued daily meetings not only with the prime minister but also meetings that have been happening with President Preval to sort through their priorities, listen to them as they are thinking through their forward planning as they look ahead to the next steps. We spent time at a conference in Montreal, actually, last week, where Prime Minister Bellerive spoke a lot about the vision for Haiti and in particular about the need to do decentralization in Haiti and to see Haiti grow outward from Port-au-Prince as opposed to remaining concentrated there, and what that might mean in terms of their thinking for how they see the recovery and building of Haiti in the future.

"At that conference there were many countries from around the world, all of whom were pledging to be committed to Haiti, not just today but tomorrow and the next day and the days ahead. Many of them have been long-term partners of Haiti on the ground, and so it was nice to be in a place where so many people who had a great familiarity of not only the Haitian country and culture and government, but also what have been the challenges and the opportunities that are in Haiti. And that's what I think everybody is anticipating focusing on as we look ahead down the road.

"We are anticipating that conference, which will be a donors conference to pledge what resources each country would be willing to put forward to support the building of Haiti, to occur in March. And we are also anticipating that at that time there will have been an assessment that's been done by the UN that will allow us to make the kinds of judgments and the kinds of commitments that will build a better Haiti, or, as the Haitians have said and Prime Minister Bellerive, a new Haiti for the government and the citizens of that country.

"We are very cognizant of the fact that Haiti alone, and certainly not the -- with the United States or anyone else alone can actually accomplish the breadth and scope of the task that's necessary for what needs to be done in Haiti. And so we are really looking forward to critical partnerships around the globe in support of the Government of Haiti and the people of Haiti as they go about defining what their future should look like."

Administrator Shah underscored the fact that rebuilding Haiti, first and foremost, is a partnership with the Haitian Government and described relief and recovery efforts. Administrator Shah said:

"[W]e're ramping up the relief effort and we're trying, in a very focused way, to do things that are sustainable, that are appropriate, and that can contribute to a strong Haitian recovery in terms of the economic recovery and in terms of the recovery of the capacity of public services to sustain services provided to the Haitian population. So when we were talking earlier, our priority and our focus was around saving lives through search-and-rescue, and it has obviously evolved."

The Administrator continued, "[E]very day we are very focused on doing better than we did the day before. And that continual metric we track in quantitative terms, sector by sector. And...I'll just remind folks -- and I enjoy sharing this because it's an important point -- that it is the resilience of the Haitian people that is the primary vehicle through which most relief is provided, and I was reminded of that when I visited and walked through a settlement near the presidential palace. And you walk through that environment, and we would -- we pulled up a blanket and saw a 12-volt battery connected to an inverter connected to a power strip charging probably 20 mobile phones. And people are, in fact, using those types of systems to stay connected to get information and to make effective decisions about where to go for food and supplies and for shelter and other forms of support."

Administrator Shah described how the Haitian Government, the United States and others are addressing various sectors of relief and recovery. He focused on food, shelter, health and water. The Administrator said:

"In the food sector, we've now provided food and two-week rations to more than 800,000 Haitians. The rate of daily service has more than tripled from an initial rate of around 45,000 served a day to now more than 120,000 today. The reason for that significant improvement has been putting in place a fixed distribution system at 16 sites throughout Port-au-Prince. And the U.S. military, together with the World Food Program, the Government of Haiti, and a number of NGO partners, has come together to make that system an effective one.

"In shelter, our target remains between 240- and 300,000 households and providing them with services and the capacity to provide shelter for themselves, and shelter that would be protective in an event of rains. We believe, through the combined efforts of a number of NGO partners, UN partners, and the Government of Haiti, that we've reached approximately 70,000 of those households, especially with plastic sheeting and shelter kits and some training to help support their efforts to build and to maintain a shelter for themselves.

"The rate in terms of the rate of the number of the people we're reaching in that sector has increased significantly in the last 10 days, and we continue to track that, and believe we now have enough materials, plastic sheeting, shelter kits, and NGO capacity to serve up to 260,000 households."

Regarding health, Administrator Shah said:

"We have worked with the Pan American Health Organization, CDC, and the Government of Haiti through its 43 hospitals to help put in place a disease surveillance system that has now 51 surveillance sites. We will soon be starting vaccination campaigns for DPT, for measles, mumps and rubella, and tetanus toxoid. They'll be targeted, of course, to different subgroups of the population.

"In addition to that, we continue with the trauma service and medical service that's been provided by the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and by the USNS Comfort that has been in the theater. We estimate U.S. medical professionals have now seen more -- or nearly 25,000 patients; that's a tremendous achievement. Of course, the needs with such a tragic situation are far in excess of that, but it is an important point. And we are now working collectively with our NGO partners and, in particular, partners of our PEPFAR program and with the CDC to really help transition some of these medical assets that were brought down by the Disaster Medical Teams to NGO partners who can help sustain their ability to serve Haitians, and also make sure those assets get integrated into a sustained and more effective healthcare system for Haiti.

"The other focus in the health sector for us will continue to be on post-trauma and post-operative care. And we're increasing capacity in Haiti primarily by identifying and expanding the capacities at 31 sites that we believe have the capacity to provide post-operative and orthopedic services."

The Administrator continued, "[W]e have had approximately 2 million liters delivered daily to nearly 160 sites. That has continued to increase steadily week by week, and we have not seen shortages of water in pockets or with settlements."

Read the full briefing here.



pamela g.
West Virginia, USA
February 3, 2010

Pamela G. in West Virginia writes:

I am glad to read that the food distribution issue is being addressed. I also hope that all Haitians will soon be able to get food. I hope other nations other than the us are helping in providing security for this cause to keep the releif effort at the multinational level.

California, USA
February 3, 2010

OysterCracker in California writes:

If cottage industries like solar panel fabrication, clothing manufacturers could be set up in temporary accomodation outside the city along with medical clinics and schools, it would act as a big draw to get people to depopulate the city center. It would need to be done on a grand scale. Also if temporary but excellent schools were set up and there was free tuition, this would act as a further draw to get people to move from the capitol. The State dept. should push to get these camps in place quickly. Permanent building and structures can be built gradually over time. This is a big opportunity to do it right if people don't waste time.

Paula D.
Indiana, USA
February 3, 2010

Paula D. in Indiana writes:

What are you doing to help the hundreds of thousands of orphans or children without a status? You make this report sound as though everything is going so smoothly. Are you living in a fantasy world? Have you read all the independent blogs that tell what is really going on; how children are being raped in tent cities and essentially held captive by UNICEF? Do you see the orphanages sitting empty because UNICEF will not allow children to return to their orphanages? Children are dying because YOU, UNICEF, and the HAITIAN government are on a quest for control. Who suffers? The common people of Haiti suffer. Who is not allowed to help? The millions of families ready to make sure a child does not die and is provided with love and care until they are reunited with family and/or able to be adopted. How do you seriously convince yourself that what you are doing is in the best interest of the Haitian people?

I could go on and on about how sad it is that YOU, UNICEF, and the HAITI Government have power to prevent people from helping and prevent people from getting help. What is the point? You have an agenda and nothing the common citizens of either country say will change this.

May you see how your decisions are hurting the people in Haiti and around the world.

Tennessee, USA
February 3, 2010

Joe in Tennessee writes:

At what junction in history are we going to take these events seriously enough to place a business like structure and open door political policy for providing aid properly and effectively?

I find it disconcerting that we will use private contracting for our Intelligence, Security, and even Space programs; but, will not relinquish bidding to business to provide a much more cohesive program for deploying aid in such cases, even here in the US.

The fact they have what is considered a ‘premature’ democratic form of government is still inexcusable for the lack of provisional aid they provided their citizens prior to this terrible event. The building of vacation retreats, golf courses all took precedence over the people’s needs and the development of land their citizens could not afford only indentured them to the outside world, not freed them nor did it feed them equally.

The shame is the still replecation of resources and lack of centralized information because it is NOT being handled properly. The recent Child Services Case is a prime example. Too many cooks in the kitchen all trying to help but going in different directions with the same purpose in mind.

Reynold G.
Florida, USA
February 4, 2010

Reynold G. in Florida writes:

I hope the administration open doors for haitians living outside the country a chance to help write a constructive and positive page in the contry history. Because for years previous administration have supported only corrupted leaders that bring the country down. I understand we are limited in some structure, but there is no excuse for not having a first response emergency plan for an eventual catastrophy. As a Haitian Citizen, i really appreciate all the efforts of the US Administration to help alieviate the suffering of the haitian; but it worries good haitian citizens with no voice. If the Administration is trully genuine about helping Haiti its time to look for true haitian citizen not the goverment in place nor the so cold NGO's that we have on the field.

guerdie c.
Florida, USA
February 5, 2010

Guerdie C. in Florida writes:

I am in the Miami Area does anyone know any companies or organizations that will help with transportation of cargo and people for free or at a reduce rate to Haiti for smaller organizations and churches; because the local cargo services has triple their prices? The big organizations that are in Haiti are not helping enough they have so much bureaucracy to go through they are still working on logistics. After 23 days you would think they figured a way to do it by now. But they have orders to keep everything they collected at the airport on the tarmac, mountains of stuff just sitting there, while the poor people in need are starving and dying for lack of medication. I am only hoping these orders are not from the Haitian government because the only thing they know how to do is to oppress their own people. Someone need to expose what is going on in Haiti the rich people that were not affected have access to everything they go to the airport with their trucks pick up food and medicine some of them are selling it for a hefty price. The real people in need are not receiving the help; people that are in a 5 to 10 miles radius from the airport are not getting food and medicine. Every time I received a report of this sort and see the outpouring of support the American people has displayed by donating money to the big organizations it makes me wonder who is keeping track and really managing the distribution in Haiti. I am begging anyone with information of companies or organizations that will assist in the carrying of cargo and people to Haiti for free or even at a reduce rate please pass on the information it would make a world of a difference.

Diana M.
New York, USA
February 5, 2010

Diana M. in New York writes:

I was on the main part of this blog and couldn't find any reference to the American missionaries who have been arrested in Haiti, so my comment is going here.

So you're "ramping up" the relief efforts, are you? If that was the case, then answer me this:

Why on earth are those missionaries still in jail and why isn't our government doing anything to get them out? No crime has been committed. Perhaps some paperwork got screwed up when they were trying to rescue those children, but no crime has been committed. Mistakes can and do happen.

And while we're on the subject of hostages, what about those American hikers who are being held by Iran? Is anything being done to help them get out? Are you throwing them under the bus too?

The lack of action on the part of the U.S. government with regard to the arrested missionaries will not encourage people to continue to contribute to the relief efforts.

Isn't your lack of action counterproductive? Shame on you!

C. M.
Maryland, USA
February 13, 2010

C. M. in Maryland writes:

It is wonderful the see the work that is being done in Haiti. I am an Haitian American and have spent a lot of times in Haiti. I curretly have schools that am affiliated with in Carrefour and Mountain lavoute Jackmel. I will be in haiti late Feb to see how I can better help the children I have worked with for so long.

Keep up the good work and hope to join you soon in Haiti.


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