Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

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Building Health: An Interview with Jim Ansara

August 15, 2017 - 10:20

The Boston Network for International Development published an insightful interview with Jim Ansara, an IJDH adviser, collaborator and supporter. This interview explores “sustainability” in an incredibly interesting way. Jim has worked side by side with  Partners In Health (PIH) to build a community hospital in Mirebalais located in Haiti’s Central Plateau. It is the largest employer in central Haiti and the largest solar-powered hospital in the world. Build Health International founded by Jim Ansara, is a private operating foundation addressing the unique challenges of building healthcare infrastructure projects in remote and under resourced settings.

Read More HERE

Building Health: An Interview with Jim Ansara

JON: Obviously I have gotten to know you a bit over the last few years and I am quite familiar with your work especially in connection with Partners in Health (PIH), but I wonder if we could maybe start fairly broadly, and I would love to know a bit more about you, Jim, and what your background is, where you grew up, what has influenced you, and how you, as someone with a construction background, found yourself invested in global heath and international development.

JIM: Right, so, I grew up in Boston/Cambridge and my family, my mother in particular, was very progressive politically, especially for the time, which had a great influence on our whole family. I am the youngest of four and most of my siblings have gone into some sort of social or political action work. I ended up on a different path. I was very focused in high school and college initially on playing sports and having fun. I started at Brown University and lasted almost one semester, and then dropped out and played hockey on a minor league team for a year and a half. I was then accepted to Amherst College and went there and lasted a year and a half there! At the same time, I met Karen [my wife and co-founder of the Ansara Family Foundation] and found myself back in Boston needing a job, and talking my way into work as a carpenter. This then started a long adventure in construction for me. Very quickly I began working for myself doing small projects in Dorchester and Roxbury and started a little company which became a little bigger and eventually grew to become a very large company, Shawmut, which we sold in 2006 to the employees. Our family had had a small foundation which we started in 1999 but, with the sale of Shawmut, we took half the proceeds from that sale and started a much larger philanthropic foundation.

Also, we had adopted 4 children, 3 from South America and had traveled a lot, and especially throughout Latin America, and had become much more involved in international development. My wife Karen had a background in international development which began at Wellesley where she went to college. My interested in international development really came from our travels and from my children. I began to think about key issues of women, children, poverty and equality which is how Karen and I began to shift our focus from domestic giving to a more international focus.

JON: I am interested to know a bit more about how Build Health International came to be, it makes sense and I definitely understand the progressive roots and the interest in international engagement but Build Health International in particular, how did that originate?

JIM: For many years my wife Karen was involved with Oxfam America where she worked very hard on a capital campaign. Through Karen’s work with Oxfam, we met Cate Oswald and Paul Farmer and others involved in an economic development project in the Central Plateau of Haiti. In traveling to Haiti, I was really shocked by the level of poverty, injustice and inequity. At this time I was no longer running Shawmut and was really trying to find something to plug into that was of real value. I had tried a number of things – boat building, fishing, etc. – but it was sort of indulgent and wasn’t adding a lot to the world. I was really looking for something deeper in which to become involved and make a significant contribution. Then, in the summer of 2009, Dr. David Walton from PIH called and said PIH was building a community hospital in Mirebalais in Haiti’s Central Plateau. David explained that my background in construction could be of great help for the project, after which I immediately became involved. I then started traveling to Haiti in September of 2009 with David working on plans for what was then a 100-bed hospital in Mirebalais. Then…in January 2010, the earthquake struck in Haiti, and everything changed.

So that is how I became involved in PIH and in Haiti. The hospital in Mirebalais was finished in late 2012 and officially opened in May 2013. At that time, I began thinking I was going to be a part-time volunteer who would maybe travel to Haiti once a month. But, over the course of the Mirebalais project, I didn’t realize I was going to be essentially living in Haiti and building a team of people who would work together to complete the project. I often say it would be a completely separate interview to discuss the process experienced in the Mirebalais project and touch on the mistakes and lessons learned which were numerous, but very  helpful. The entire project was a very unique situation.

As we continued work in 2011, Haiti was still very much in the vortex of the earthquake. There were really good and bad parts of the Mirebalais experience, but it was a very unique way to learn how to approach building in such a unique environment with a very distinct set of circumstances at play. The project was funded and collaborating with David [Walton], who had worked in Haiti for so long, was a really direct way in which to learn, and re-learn, everything I thought I knew about planning and design and construction and hospitals. I also had to quickly unlearn ways in which we had operated at my company for so many years. I had an unusual background where I had started my career in the building trades during which time I gained direct hands-on experience. I then had experience running a large company which provided another set of skills in terms of management and project overview. As it turned out, I was also uniquely well suited for the work we were doing in Haiti – because I had been an electrician, plumber and carpenter and had also worked on large-scale projects as well, I could see the overall project from both the macro and micro levels.

JON: So how did you go from constructing the Mirebalais hospital, a huge endeavor with many challenges and many successes, to founding Build Health International and creating the organization that it is now?

JIM: My plan was to finish the Mirebalais hospital in the spring of 2013, stay for the inauguration in May of 2013, and then re-retire. I was thinking to continue working with PIH as a consultant on different projects. However, we came to the realization that there was a lot more work to do in Haiti for PIH, a lot more to do at Mirebalais, and so much more to do in the rest of the health care delivery system within Haiti overall.

We had also learned so much, and survived so many mistakes and missteps that I felt like we couldn’t let those lessons learned go to waste. At the same time, other organizations working in Haiti, like the Saint Boniface Haiti Foundation were coming to us for help. These organizations were telling us that they just couldn’t figure out how to move forward on infrastructure, planning, design, and construction to ensure their essential health care delivery programs could be executed in the most impactful way possible. On the surface Mirebalais is such a big success, there are a lot of things I’d do differently, but to people looking from the outside, it’s sort of unbelievable. Here’s this huge hospital that was done so quickly for comparatively far less cost than other big development projects and, from that, other organizations were hoping to learn how to move ahead with their own projects.

By December of 2013, the team that had worked on Mirebalais had sort of disbanded, a few people had gone to work for PIH and I was continuing to help in directing them. Eric Benson [Build Health International’s Director of Construction and Senior Project Manager] was working at Saint Boniface with me at this point but I had no office and we had no infrastructure, no team. Carroll Huss [Build Health International’s Director of Internal Operations and Finance] who had worked with me on the Mirebalais project was interested in continuing the work as well, so that was really the genesis of Build Health International. From there, we rented a little office and warehouse in Beverly and began working as BHI in early 2014. At that point, we were still working as the infrastructure arm of PIH which continued until about a year ago. Since then, BHI has really taken on a life of its own.

JON: It seems like it! I wonder if you could talk about some of the other projects you have been engaged with, and what else you are excited about within Build Health International.

JIM: During 2015, BHI was pretty well focused on doing work almost exclusively for PIH and Saint Boniface, with the majority of work concentrated on PIH in Haiti, Malawi, and West Africa. For example, we helped organize a logistics team during the Ebola response. During this time we also had people consistently reaching out to us for help. We continued working with St. Boniface and experience success replicating what we had done in Mirebalais and improving on it. We focused on how we could even further improve, while also simplifying, the facilities we were constructing, looking at sustainability, not just in the green sense, but from an operations and maintenance management perspective. This extended to work on renewable energy sources, especially in Haiti where energy is such a huge operating expense. We continued to take lessons learned from Mirebalais, such as best practices for operating budgets, and examined ways to challenge preconceived notions of building in resource constrained settings. By looking at ways to build ‘less’, we could examine impact on both budgetary planning and also facility longevity, allowing resources to be allocated to towards maintenance and repairs, rather than just on the initial cost of the capital investment. These are certainly challenging, but important, conversations to have.

JON: It’s almost unimaginable, it’s a huge amount of work and really incredible to hear the breadth of it, honestly. I am interested to know what your view is on the broader field of global health construction and infrastructure. Obviously, players like the World Bank and USAID have some funding and have done infrastructure projects in the past, but do you see other organizations perhaps taking on the work of designing and building appropriate health oriented infrastructure?

JIM: That is a very good question and a very important one. Within the sector it appears there are two extremes…there are the large organizations such as the USAID contractors. There seems to be a struggle to clearly define the role of these companies in terms of mission and ability to deliver sustainable facilities that meet the needs of the communities in which they are constructed. That then becomes one type of international development delivery in which European and North American style hospitals and clinics, which are often very expensive capital costs and usually don’t have much funding for sustained operating budgets, become the norm in places like Haiti. As it happens, the buildings constructed in this model don’t really end up being sustainable for geographic locations like Haiti, given its climate and the feasibility of continued operating support. We have certainly experienced some of these same challenges in our past projects, and have learned from our experiences as we try to match the capacity of the community in which we’re working with the scale of the project.

So there is a huge void between the widely accepted status quo, and what BHI is trying to address. There are definitely other organizations also trying to fill this void. Organizations like MASS Design are addressing the design and architecture challenges – BHI is currently working with MASS Design on a number of projects such as Redemption Hospital and JFK Hospital in Liberia. Another organization, Construction for Change in Seattle, is a spinout from a foundation working with PIH on projects in Malawi. And there are organizations such as Building Goodness who BHI is working with in Haiti. The central point which I keep returning to is that if you amass all of the work done by these various organizations, it can still feel that the work is only a tiny drop in the bucket of what is needed. There are thousands of facilities globally (in places such as Haiti, Sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia, etc.) which are operating in rapidly declining conditions and are in need of equipment, infrastructure, running water, sewage, improved ventilation systems and so on.

Keeping all of this in mind, one of the larger scale questions that I am always trying to address is: beyond the immediate work we do, how our organization Build Health International can have greater, more direct impact. I recently turned 60 and was reflecting that if I work like a maniac for another 20 years until I am 80, I still really believe we will only accomplish a tiny fraction of the larger scope of the work that needs to be done. So, the continuing challenge is to try to figure out how to capture what we are learning in each of our projects and disseminate this information to help other organizations leverage their impact as well. To this end, we are currently working with a number of universities on a range of projects so that students at the forefront of their academic training can begin to interface with ideas of best practices in architecture, engineering, design and so forth. We are also just finishing a pilot project examining the Emergency Department at Mirebalais where Drs. Reagan Marsh and Shada Rouhani from PIH just did a presentation at a national emergency medicine conference around that project and what we have been doing. BHI has also started a pilot project that we are calling, for lack of a better title, the Mirebalais Learning Project, in which we are documenting the vitally important lessons learned from Mirebalais as well as the other facilities in which we have been involved. Rather than sort of just celebrating what we did right, it is so important to really look at what could have been done differently and learn from those challenges moving ahead.

JON: It is a fascinating thing. I mean, how do you digest the deep lessons that you all have learned along the way while continuing to pioneer this work to galvanize more support and encourage more people to take it on. It is a really fascinating challenge. As we wrap up, it would be great to learn a little about the BHI outlook as you move ahead into the future.

JIM: Certainly a great question – I think at this stage looking ahead, BHI is in a unique position to continue pushing forward. We will continue focusing on individual projects while also contributing to the larger conversation about health care delivery, infrastructure frameworks and ways in which building and design can impact successful outcomes. Together with our partners, we are certainly looking forward to this next phase of Build Health International’s evolution.

Haitian Immigrants Seeking Refuge in Canada Face Arrest at the Border

August 14, 2017 - 08:19

For Haitians fleeing the United States, Canada offers a pseudo sense of security as Lacolle, Quebec becomes an attraction not only for the tourists but for immigrants seeking a new life. Canada however is not the safe haven that it’s perceived to be. Upon crossing the border, migrants are arrested and detained. Although Canadian refugee camps offer basic amenities, migrants continuously face uncertainty. In the past,  only 50% of Haitians seeking asylum in Canada have had their requests granted and there is no guarantee it will be the same this time.

Read full Article HERE 

For Haitians in U.S., the road to refuge runs straight to Canada — and arrest

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald 

August 12, 2017



The Canadian police officer at the border was adamant: If you cross here, you will immediately be arrested. The Haitian woman dragged her bulging suitcase across the dirt-covered mound to the Canadian side anyway.

She was determined. And so were the mother and her four teenage children who came after, and the Latino family of three after them, and the 39-year-old Haitian father of four who soon followed, his friends keeping a watchful eye in a waiting car as he jumped out of a taxi cab.

While U.S. President Donald Trump is clamping down on illegal immigration, thousands of migrants from Haiti, Central America and Africa are rushing to this border crossing in upstate New York, willing to face arrest in their pursuit of a better life. The popular stop near the border station at Lacolle, Quebec, is quickly becoming a path to a new life for immigrants — and something of a tourist attraction.

Continue Reading HERE 

Haiti: Fr. Robinson Alexis Urges Justice and Individual Reparations for the Victims of Cholera

August 14, 2017 - 08:13


During the celebration of Feast of Saint Clare in Municipality of Marchand Dessalines, Artibonite, Fr. Alexis, the pastor of the Parish and the responsible of Justice and Peace for the Department of Artibonite urges Haitian officials to act to eliminate the cholera once for all. He also demands repartions for the victims of the cholera and commends the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) for their advocacy and legal work on behalf of the victims. Amongst the attendees were Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant and the Artibonite’s Senator Gracia Delva, also a native of Marchand Dessalines and Mario Joseph of BAI.

Watch the video below:

English transcript will coming soon.

An Evaluation of the Causes and Results of U.N. Peacekeeper Actions

August 10, 2017 - 08:58

This four part series details the history of sexual assault by UN peacekeepers and what has been done to combat it. The UN peacekeeping mission began in 1948, right after WWII. In order to protect the soldiers who were deployed, the U.N provided its soldiers with impunity (all cases against peacekeepers had to be brought in the parent country, in order to protect the soldiers from fraudulent charges.)However, this protection has been the cause of many grievances for the women and children of these nations—victims of sexual assault are unable to take their assailants to court.

Between 2004 and 2016, the UN received almost 2000 reports of sexual assault perpetrated by peacekeepers. In predominately black nations with a low socioeconomic status, the rate of sexual violence is much more  significant and leads researchers to believe that the idea of racial and economic superiority and supremacy plays a role in the inflated volume of assaults. Even with this information readily available, the UN has not made a substantial effort to provide aid to the victims or prevent further assaults.


Read Article one HERE

Read Article two HERE

Read Article three HERE

Read Article four HERE 


Why do some UN peacekeepers rape?

Azad Essa, Al Jazeera 

August 3, 2017

UN peacekeepers are sent to the most war-ravaged countries on Earth, ostensibly to help them transition to peace.

But some stand accused of committing crimes against the very people they are supposed to protect.

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press (AP), between 2004 and 2016, the United Nations received almost 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against its peacekeepers.

The UN says it has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, but survivors, activists, lawyers and human rights organisations say such crimes have been allowed to continue with impunity.

Through conversations with UN peacekeepers and officials, gender experts, academics, researchers and activists, as well as through an investigation of UN data, in this four-part series, we try to navigate these competing accounts to answer the question: How did some peacekeepers become predators?

Continue reading HERE

Is the UN sending the wrong people to keep the peace?

Azad Essa, Al Jazeera 

August 3, 2017

UN peacekeepers are sent to the most war-ravaged countries on Earth, ostensibly to help them transition to peace.

But some stand accused of committing crimes against the very people they are supposed to protect.

According to a recent investigation by the Associated Press (AP), between 2004 and 2016, the United Nations received almost 2,000 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse against its peacekeepers.

The UN says it has a zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, but survivors, activists, lawyers and human rights organisations say such crimes have been allowed to continue with impunity.

Continue Reading HERE


Do UN peacekeepers do more harm than good?

August 9,2017

In her 2015 book, Peaceland, Severine Autesserre, a professor of political science at Barnard College of Columbia University in the US, writes about a “community of interveners for whom peace is either the primary objective (like peacekeepers) or part of a broader set of goals (such as diplomats or development workers)” who often exist in a parallel world to the people they are meant to serve.

She argues that the way in which this community lives, talks and collaborates with locals reinforces “a pervasive power disparity between the interveners and their intended beneficiaries”.

The “peacekeeping economy” – in which millions of dollars arrive, circulate between external actors and rarely reach or benefit the local community – emboldens a sense of impunity and superiority among this community of interveners, says Marsha Henry, an associate professor at the London School of Economics’ Gender Institute in the UK, pointing to how peacekeepers and the aid community often live privileged, if precarious, lives in an economy that caters more to their needs than to the development goals of the country they are in.

Continue Reading HERE

Why do some peacekeepers rape? The full report

Read summary Article HERE


50,000 Haitians Could Lose Temporary Protected Status in the US But Canada May Not Be the Solution

August 9, 2017 - 08:20

As TPS expiration looms, thousands of Haitians who have been living in the United States in the past seven years are fleeing to Canada seeking asylum. Although the Canadian government ended their temporary protection status in 2016, their warm reception towards refugees makes Canada an attractive second choice. Although they could face deportation from Canada, many have taken the risk. for those Haitian families, leaving the U.S. is the only way for them to keep their families together.

To learn more about TPS Click  the link to our  TPS PAGE

To learn more about Cholera in Haiti click the link to our  Cholera Page 

Read Full Article HERE.

 Why are thousands of Haitians streaming into Canada from the U.S.?

Verity Stevenson, CBC News

August 3, 2017

Heading to Canada is one of the only options seen by many of the 50,000 Haitians who’ve been living under temporary protection status in the U.S. — but many don’t know they face deportation here, too, should their asylum claim be rejected.

The temporary protection status for Haitians in the U.S. granted after the 2010 earthquake is set to expire in January.

The Department of Homeland Security considers Haiti to be a safe country now, and it’s warned that the U.S. doesn’t intend to renew that status, prompting the deluge of asylum seekers crossing into Canada.

“There is a major humanitarian crisis coming up this January,” said Emmanuel Depas, a New York-based immigration lawyer, who was born in Haiti.

Depas said many of his clients’ only hope is coming to Canada. Going back to Haiti would mean living in poverty, facing persecution or, for a fifth of them with U.S.-born children, being separated from their families, he said.

“I’ve even suggested looking into Canada to people because there aren’t that many options,” he told CBC News Thursday.

Continue Reading HERE .

Peacekeeping Comes With a Price: The Legacy of U.N. Cholera on Haiti’s Public Health

August 9, 2017 - 08:03

 After 13 controversial years in Haiti, the United Nations  will withdraw its troops. However, the U.N. Peacekeepers (MINUSTAH) will leave a significant public health burden on the backs of Haitian people.

The UN plans to replace MINUSTAH with a smaller mission, “the Mission for Justice Support in Haiti” or “MINUJUSTH” mandating to strengthen the rule of law in the country.Given the current state of the MINUSTAH’s legacy, “MINUJUSTH”‘s legitimacy could be undermined and in question.

To learn more about the U.N. promise to Haiti Click Here

Download PDF version this article HERE.

The Price of Peace? Peacekeeping with Impunity Harms Public Health in Haiti

by Louise C. Ivers and Yodeline Guillaume, The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, August, 2017

Division of Global Health Equity, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 

Address correspondence to Louise C. Ivers, Division of Global Health Equity, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, 641 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail:

In April, 2017, the United Nations (UN) announced that it will withdraw peacekeeping soldiers from Haiti after 13 years there.1 Known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, the mission has been controversial in security terms, but in terms of public health, it is not controversial to state that peacekeepers will be leaving a heavy mark on the health of Haitians. The UN has acknowledged that peacekeeping soldiers were responsible for both the introduction of cholera (which sparked a nationwide epidemic) and the sexual abuse and exploitation of Haitians, including minors. Despite these acknowledgments, there has been insufficient action to result in justice for either the victims of cholera or the victims of sexual abuse. On July 13, 2017, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution asking the UN member states to consider contributing $40 million in leftover funds from MINUSTAH to the control of cholera in the country, and the member states have 60 days to act.

The UN plans to replace MINUSTAH with a smaller peacekeeping operation; the U.N. Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) mandated to strengthen the rule of law and to engage in human rights monitoring, reporting, and analysis. This new justice mission can have little legitimacy in Haiti given the current legacy of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations there, but there is still time to act.

Download PDF version this article HERE.

Haitian and Canadian Activists Demonstrate in Front of Quebec Olympic Stadium in Support of Refugees  

August 9, 2017 - 07:40

Worried about Trump’s next  move, hundreds of TPS recipients which have been predominately Haitian have fled from the United States to Canada. Some Haitians have been held at Quebec’s Olympic Stadium waiting for Canadian authorities to process their documents.

Meanwhile, pro-immigration activists demonstrated in front of the Stadium to show their support to the refugees. It is important to point out that Haiti is and won’t be ready to welcome thousands of its citizens who have been living in the U.S. for the past seven years and more.

For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website

Read the full story HERE.

Hundreds gather outside Olympic Stadium in support of refugees

by Matt Grillo, Global News, August 6, 2017

Just outside where approximately 500 asylum seekers are being housed in a temporary shelter inside Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, hundreds gathered for a demonstration to show their support for refugees.

“Human beings cannot be alien on planet earth,” Jean Saint-Vil, a participant in the demonstration, said.

“Who tells us that the next Canadian astronaut has not just crossed the border today?”

Continue reading HERE.

As TPS Draws to a Close, Haitians Immigrate to Canada

August 4, 2017 - 11:03

With TPS protections in the U.S ending for Haitian immigrants in January, Haitian TPS holders are starting to seek other alternatives.  According to the Mayor of Montreal,  2,500 Haitians have arrived in Montreal, Canada since July through the U.S. following the announcement that TPS may be ending.

Read Full Article HERE

Worried that the door of freedom is closing under Trump, Haitians are fleeing to Canada

Jacqueline Charles and Harold Isaac, Miami Herald 

August 3, 2017


Worried that the door to freedom is closing in the United States under President Donald Trump, Haitians are flocking to Canada to seek asylum.

“According to my sources: 2,500 new arrivals in July (U.S. border refugees),” Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre tweeted in French on Wednesday.

Canadian immigration officials weren’t able to say how many of the refugees making the border crossing from northern New York into Quebec are Haitian. But Frantz Benjamin, the Haiti-born chairman of the Montreal City Council, believes at least half of the estimated 6,500 asylum seekers that have arrived since January are Haitians prompted by Trump’s hardline on immigration. The number also includes individuals from several Muslim-majority nations banned by Trump.

“It’s clear for us that the new politic of Donald Trump, the new president of the United States, has created a panic that today has a lot of people believing that their future isn’t in the United States and by ‘any means necessary,’ they will get to Canada,” Benjamin said. “But we want to make it clear, Canadian law hasn’t changed.”

Continue Reading HERE 

Haiti: Senate votes to Ban Same Sex Marriage But The Chamber Of  The Deputies And The President Has The Final Say

August 3, 2017 - 12:44

The Haitian senate passed a bill banning same sex marriage and any form of public displays of affection or support for/in the LGBT community. This bill allows for further marginalization and mistreatment of the LGBT community by stripping them of their rights to protest over their treatment. The senators used the Article 3 of Haiti’s Constitution to back up their vote. The bill will soon go to the Chamber of the Deputies and is expected to pass. Although, if the both chambers pass the bill, it will not become law of the land until President Jovenel Moïse signs and publishes it in the country’s official Journal, Le Moniteur.

Read the full article HERE.

Haiti Senate votes to ban gay marriage

Agence France Press, republished by Indian Express, August 3, 2017

Haiti’s constitution established a secular republic but the country is marked by deep religious beliefs. “Although the state is secular, it is people of faith who are the majority,” Latortue said, stressing the commonly held belief in Haiti that homosexuality is a Western practice only.

A vote by the Haitian Senate to ban gay marriage as well as “public demonstration of support” for homosexuality reflects the will of the people, the chamber’s president has said. The Senate approved a bill late Tuesday that said “the parties, co-parties and accomplices” of a homosexual marriage can be punished by three years in prison and a fine of about USD 8,000.

Read the full article HERE.

Additional Sources:

Haïti: le sénat interdit le mariage gay,” Le Figaro, 2 août  2017

Les sénateurs mettent les bâtons dans les roues des homosexuels,” par Juno Jean Baptiste, Le Nouvelliste, 1 août 2017

Catholic Priest Calls on Haitian Officials to Defend Cholera Victims

August 2, 2017 - 12:29

During the celebration of Feast of St Ann and Joachim in Tianon, Mirbalais located in the central Plateau of Haiti, Father Serdieu-Jean commends the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) for its legal work as well as its advocacy work that generates support from international human rights to press for justice for the victims of cholera.

“For more than six years, cholera has put our compatriots in Haiti, especially in Fort Michel, Mont Blanc No. Six, to name a few, in a situation where they do not have clean water, yet they sell all they have in order to take care of people who are infected and bury people’s bodies who died from cholera. This portion of the population that is consistently neglected continue to be victims of cholera every day.This is very grave and it will be even more grave if this summer passes and civil society organizations, the Haitian government, the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, Members Of Parliament — a lot of them are here–don’t speak out, or make a quick intervention.

We take our hats off in salutation to all of the organizations and offices, especially Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, who have intervened already.

Now, we ask the Haitian government, the members of parliament and all other sectors who it concerns, to take positions in favor of the victims of cholera, and for all of the Haitian people who aren’t victims yet. Because even if they are poor, they are still people who have rights and identities. Like all people, they have rights to justice, and reparations.”

Bayakou: The Ostracized Men of The Sewers

August 1, 2017 - 19:33

Following the 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew in 2016, Haiti’s sewage problems  have  only been exacerbated. With only one sewage disposal plant in all of Haiti, it serves a small fraction of the population.Most citizens dispose of their excrement in outhouses or open sewers. When it rains, the sewers carry pathogens into the water supply which has attributed to the spread of cholera. As the population of the capital city increases, the sewage crisis becomes more prevalent. “Bayakou,” the men who empty the latrines into the sewer or the treatment plants, cannot control the amount of sewage produced. If TPS protections for Haitian’s are removed, 58,000 Haitians will be forced to return to Haiti, which could not only spread cholera at a more rapid rate, it also puts many lives in danger.

To learn more about TPS Click  the link to our  TPS PAGE

To learn more about Cholera in Haiti click the link to our  Cholera Page 


Read Full Article HERE 

Haiti’s ‘Bayakou': Hauling Away Human Excrement By Hand

Rebecca Hersher, NPR

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is one of the largest cities in the world without a central sewage system. Most of the more than 3 million residents use outhouses and rely on workers with some of the worst jobs in the world, hauling away human excrement by hand one bucket at a time. The men are called bayakou, and they work in the dark by candlelight. Rebecca Hersher spent a night with a group of them.
REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: As soon as we arrive, you can smell it. It’s a heavy, earthy stench, like rotten eggs and grosser things.
An estimated 1 in 5 Haitians don’t have access to any kind of latrine. Those who do have outhouses generally hire a bayakou to clean them out. Tonight, a team of four bayakou are emptying one outhouse. One of the guys, Gabriel Toto, is sitting on the edge of the hole, his bare feet in the brown soup below, holding a big stick.
HERSHER: The stick measures about 15 feet deep. Tonight, with a foreign reporter around, Gabriel is wearing knee-length pants and gloves. Usually, he works naked.
TOTO: (Through interpreter) They don’t usually give us these gloves and things, when you’re not here.

Read Full Article HERE

Haiti’s Senate Bill Discriminates Against LGBTQ Community

July 31, 2017 - 12:01
Photo Credit: Katie Orlinsky for Al Jazeera America

In June, a bill was adopted by the Haitian Senate which not only violates the Haitian Constitution, it also further marginalizes and discriminates against the LGBTQ community. Consensual homosexual relationships in Haiti have been legal since 1986, yet due to religious culture, the subject remains taboo. Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), urged the Haitian government to protect the rights and dignity of Haitian LGBTQ individuals. “The Haitian government must respect its obligation to protect disadvantaged populations instead of persecuting them,” said Joseph.

Read Full Article HERE

Haiti Senate Bill Discriminates Against LGBTQ Community, Human Rights Org Says

The Haitian Times

A recent bill adopted by the Haitian Senate last month discriminates against the LGBTQ community and violates the Haitian constitution, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) said in a recent release. The Bill on the Reputation and Assessment of Good and Moral Conduct, which was adopted on June 29, criminalizes homosexuality and classifies it along with other crimes such as child pornography, prostitution, and child abuse.
“The Haitian government must respect its obligation to protect disadvantaged populations instead of persecuting them,” said Mario Joseph, an attorney at BAI.  “Contrary to the interpretation of Senator Jean-Renel Sénatus, the Haitian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantee equal protection for LGBT people. We must accept that LGBT people need and have the right to the same protection as other marginalized Haitians such as women, children, the poor, and handicapped persons.”
Although consensual homosexual relationships have been legal since 1986, the subject remains largely taboo in the deeply religious-based culture. For example, a festival celebrating Haiti’s LGBTQ community was slated for last year, but was later cancelled after threats of violence and government opposition.
According to Charlot Jeudy, President of the organization KOURAJ (Courage in English), “Homosexuality and transsexuality remain taboo subjects in Haitian society, and as a result, the lives of many LGBT people are characterized by secrecy, isolation, discrimination, fear of retaliation, and violence.” Community organizations like KOURAJ, which work with the LGBT community, are often the victims of threats and attacks because of their work.
Article 2 of the declaration states that, “anyone can invoke all the rights and liberties proclaimed in the current Declaration, without discriminating against race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinions or other viewpoints.” Article 16 expands the right to marry by reducing discrimination, and increasing the equality of the sexes in accordance with this law. The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) clarified in 2006 that this non-discrimination principle applies to LGBT people as well.

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Haiti: The Return of the Disbanded Army Triggers Bad Memories Amongst Haitian Population

July 31, 2017 - 08:41


After more than two decades, Haiti is reconstructing its army known as lame kraze zo or lame kou deta, concerns grow amongst the population. Defense Minister Herve Denis stated that the army’s mission would be to combat contraband trafficking and provide relief during natural disasters. However, human rights advocates argued that Haiti should instead spend it’s limited financial to reinforce the capacity of its National Police Force of 15,000 officers. “People are signing up because they are desperate for jobs and meaning,” said Brian Concannon, the Executive Director of Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. “I have seen nothing that would indicate that the army would do a better job of policing the borders or responding to natural disasters than civilian police,” concluded Concannon.

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Haiti Is Bringing Back Its Army

A history of brutal, Duvalierist repression led to its disbandment in 1995

Tristin Clavel InSight Crime.

Haiti is reconstituting its previously disbanded army after more than two decades, amid concerns about growing insecurity as a United Nations peacekeeping force is set to withdraw later this year. And while politicians have justified the move as a step toward combating contraband trafficking, the real motivations behind the decision may be political.

The recruitment effort for the new army was announced by the Defense Ministry in early July and has seen more than 2,200 candidates sign up in the first round, reported Haiti Libre Due to budget constraints, the force will have fewer than 500 members.

Defense Minister Hervé Denis said the army’s mission would be to fight against contraband smuggling and provide relief in case of natural disasters, according to the Miami Herald.The minister argued that the cost of the force will be outweighed by its impact on smuggling from the Dominican Republic, which he estimated causes lost tax revenues for Haiti of between $200 million and $500 million per year.

However, critics have said that the recruitment process has lacked transparency and has been conducted in the absence of a command structure for the force, reported Alter Presse.


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Financial Hardship Leads a Haitian TPS-Holder Comitting Suicide Says Brooklyn City Council Member

July 31, 2017 - 06:42

A Haitian TPS-holder in New York took his own life in the midst of financial hardship.He left behind his disabled mother and two siblings who are also TPS beneficiaries.  The grieving mother sought out TPS renewal after her son died. The late young man  attended high school in New York and committed suicide after he was unable to acquire money needed to renew his TPS status. Haitian activists, U.S. lawmakers and immigration advocates urge the U.S govt to extend TPS for at least 18 months for Haiti.

For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website

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Eugene seeks support for mother of TPS beneficiary who committed suicide

Nelson A. King, Caribbean Life 

July 27, 2017

Brooklyn Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene says he is seeking support for the mother of a Haitian Temporary Protected Status (TPS) beneficiary who took his own life on June 11.

Eugene, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, said the unidentified mother, a disabled woman who is raising three children, “recently lost her son to suicide triggered in part by financial hardship that is expected to worsen with the end of TPS.

“Her son, who could not afford to attend his high school graduation and could not pay for TPS, pursued a number of employment opportunities to assist his family,” said Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to New York City Council. “In the end, however, the emotional toll of being a financial burden to his parents was too much for him to handle.

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Recent Study from the Center for Migration Studies Shows That Ending TPS  Would Negatively Impact the U.S. Economy

July 31, 2017 - 06:41

According to a study published by Center for Migration Studies in New York, deporting people from TPS-designated countries would negatively negative impact the United States economy. The study also shows that more than 80% of the approximately 325,000 immigrants are tax payers working in crucial industries for the U.S. The United States could see a reduction in its GDP, ‘banks would see defaults in mortgages” and foster care would see cost increase due to thousands of orphans left behind by the immigrants. “It’s a lose-lose-lose option,” said Donald Kerwin, Executive Director of the Center for Migration Studies.

For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website

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Study says doing away with immigration program would harm economy

 Rhina Guidos Catholic News Service

Citing the significant economic contributions of immigrants under a federal program known as Temporary Protected Status, a new study says ending the program — as some in the Trump administration have suggested — would negatively impact the U.S. economy.

That’s because more than 80 percent of the approximately 325,000 immigrants in the country with the status known as TPS have jobs, many have mortgages, pay taxes and work in industries crucial to the economy, such as construction, child care and health care, and collectively have some 273,000 U.S.-born children, says a July report by the Center for Migration Studies in New York.

Kevin Appleby, the center’s senior director of international migration policy, said if extensions for the migrants are not granted or the program is terminated, crucial industries would see a shortage of workers, banks would see defaults in mortgages, and government coffers would lose out on tax revenues and consumer spending.

“Let’s hope the financial industry realizes that,” he said.

Deporting TPS recipient parents also would create thousands of orphans in the country, which would increase foster care costs, place a burden on local and state governments, and alienate the children affected, said Appleby. He was one of three officials from the center who explained the report “Statistical and Demographic Profile of the U.S. Temporary Protected Status Populations From El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti” in a July 20 video conference.

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Cholera Victims Press for Individual Compensation

July 27, 2017 - 08:22
Jacqueline Charles–Miami Herald

As the United Nations winds down its 13-year peacekeeping in Haiti,  the victims of cholera demand that the organization fulfills the promise it made to the Haitian people nearly a year ago. The U.N. promised to raise $400 million to fund its New Approach to cholera in Haiti which included individual compensation to the most affected families.  Brian Concannon, the Executive Director of  Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti urged the U.N. to consult with cholera victims before making its final decision.
“Moving forward with only community projects without consulting Haitians will not be accepted in Haiti and will not effectively address the harms that have been suffered by victims,” Concannon said.

Join our Time 2Deliver campaign to urge the U.N. to deliver on its promise and urge your country to contribute to the cholera fund if it has not done so already.

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Anger and angst in Haiti as cholera victims wait for UN compensation

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald,  July 27, 2017 


In a suburb a few miles south of Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince, Vilner Benjamin walks through a concrete maze of unpainted cinder block homes and narrow alleys pointing out the filthy, standing water and the canal that floods with disease-carrying waste whenever it rains.

His cell phone rings nonstop as he makes his way through the neighborhood called Bergamoth, with caller after caller anxiously asking the same question: “Any news?”

The calls are from Haitian cholera victims who are desperate to know if they’ll receive any of the compensation promised by the United Nations after its blue-helmeted peacekeepers infected Haiti’s Artibonite River and one of its tributaries with the deadly disease in 2010.

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Sexual Violence is increasingly becoming a Public Health Issue

July 26, 2017 - 11:58

Sexual Violence in Haiti has become an increasingly heightened issue against women, children and toddlers. Due to limited health services being provided for victims of sexual violence, many claim that sexual violence in Haiti is indeed a public health problem considering emergency contraception and antiretroviral drugs to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS are needed as well as further medical treatment.

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Sexual violence in Haiti is a public health problem: charity

Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Rampant sexual violence in Haiti against women and children, including some toddlers, should be treated as a public health issue and more care made available for survivors, the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said. Most of the 1,300 survivors of sexual violence who had been treated at one clinic run by MSF in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince since it opened in May 2015 are younger than 25, and more than half are children, according to a MSF report this month. Four in every five people who sought free medical and psychological care at the MSF Pran Men’m clinic had been raped.

“We would like sexual violence to be recognized as a public health problem because there is not a lot of health services and care available for patients,” said Carl Frederic Casimir, deputy medical coordinator at the clinic. The 24-hour clinic receives an average of 80 survivors of sexual violence a month, providing emergency contraception and antiretroviral drugs to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Casimir said he has seen children as young as two years old treated for sexual assault at the clinic.”This is the most shocking part of it, the minors. Most of the time with the children, it’s people (the attackers) they know,” Casimir told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Just under half of all child victims of sexual assault who came to the clinic were referred by the police, a sign authorities are playing an important role in helping girls and women get emergency care, MSF said. “Their collaboration has been instrumental for ensuring timely medical and psychological care for young survivors,” the MSF report said. “It could also suggest that some of these young women were confident enough to go to the police after sexual abuse.” Rape survivors are often traumatized and having access to mental health care, including counseling, is crucial for them to recover and to avoid developing depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, Casimir said. Haiti’s ministry for women has said addressing the country’s high levels of sexual violence and improving access to justice for victims is a priority.

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Haitian TPS-Holders Anxiously Awaiting Trump’s Decision

July 25, 2017 - 09:55

After finding refuge in the US, many Haitians still remain in fear after the Department of Homeland Security  (DHS) extended Temporary Protected Status  (TPS) for Haitian nationals for six months instead of the usual 18 months.  Haitian activists, U.S. lawmakers and immigration advocates urge  Secretary John Kelly to extend TPS for at least 18 months for Haiti.

For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website

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These Haitians Found Refuge From Earthquakes, Cholera, and Poverty. Now Trump Plans to Send Them Back.

Nathalie Baptiste Mother Jones

But, in October 2010, “UN troops inadvertently introduced a still-unchecked cholera epidemic,” said Steve Forester, the immigration policy coordinator at Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, an advocacy group. “Haiti hadn’t had cholera in at least 100 years.”
Cholera is an illness caused by an infection of the intestine, which is spread by contaminated food or water. Symptoms include severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and more. In rich countries, cholera is not fatal because it is generally treated quickly. But in Haiti, where hospitals and qualified doctors are in short supply, treatable illnesses often turn into death sentences. So far, cholera has killed at least 10,000 Haitians and sickened hundreds of thousands more. “Haiti needs the time to deal with the triple-whammy of quake, cholera, and Matthew and the health and food insecurity crises they’ve caused,” says Forester


In 2011, an UN-appointed panel concluded that a UN camp that housed peacekeepers from Nepal—where the same strain of the disease is endemic—was the source of the infection. The UN is struggling to come up with the resources to fund a sustained recovery effort. Forester points out that the UN has only raised $10 million of its goal of $400 million to effectively begin to combat the epidemic. In December 2016, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered a formal apology for the outbreak. “We simply did not do enough with regard to cholera outbreak and its spread in Haiti,” he said. “We are profoundly sorry about our role.”


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Haitian Advocates start 180 day countdown to extend TPS

July 25, 2017 - 07:30

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) extended Temporary Protected Status  (TPS) for Haitian nationals for six months instead of the usual 18 months.  Haitian activists and Haitian advocates started an 180 day countdown to push the trump administration to extend TPS and also continue to work with U.S. lawmakers and immigration advocates urging Secretary John Kelly to extend TPS for at least 18 months for Haiti.

For more information on TPS extension, please visit our website

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Haitian advocates start 180-day countdown urging Trump administration to extend TPS

Ayanna Runcie  Miami Herald
A 10-year-old girl from Miami who could be deported from the U.S. if Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, isn’t extended for Haitians joined a campaign Monday to raise awareness of the issue.
“I’m not afraid, but I have to be concerned about it,” Vanessa Joseph said during a press conference organized by Haitian Women of Miami. “So I have to keep on fighting for my parents and some TPS recipients.”
Joseph’s parents are Haitian citizens who have been living in the United States under TPS, a federal program that allows people living in counties that are plagued with civil conflict or environmental disasters to live and work in the United States. About 58,000 Haitians are protected from deportation under TPS.

TPS was granted to Haitian nationals under the Obama administration after an earthquake devastated the nation in 2010. The Trump administration announced in May that TPS for Haitians will expire January 22.
Haitian Women of Miami encouraged South Florida residents who could qualify for TPS to apply right up to the midnight deadline on Monday, even though some have already received letters from the Department of Homeland Security stating that they must leave the country in six months, according to Marleine Bastien, executive director of the organization.

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After Thirteen Years, What Will Be the U.N.’s Legacy in Haiti?

July 24, 2017 - 11:27

On October 16, the United Nations (U.N.) will end its 13-year controversial peacekeeping mission in Haiti. The U.N. Mission for Stabilization in Haiti known by its French acronym MINUSTAH has been plagued by series of controversies from sexual abuses to cholera outbreak and the list can go on. The UN cholera has killed over 10,000 Haitians and sickened 800,000 more. It took U.N. nearly six years to acknowledge its role in spreading the cholera and to publicly apologize to Haitian people. U.N.’s legacy is in the line. The organization needs to raise $400 million to fund its New Approach to cholera in Haiti.

Join our Time2Deliver campaign to press the U.N. to keep its promise to Haitian people and urge your country to contribute to the cholera fund it it has not already done so.

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The U.N.’s Legacy in Haiti: Stability, but for Whom?

Jake Johnston, World Politics Review 

After 13 years and more than $7 billion, the “touristas”—as the United Nations soldiers that currently occupy Haiti are commonly referred to—will finally be heading home. Well, sort of. While thousands of troops are expected to depart in October, the U.N. has authorized a new, smaller mission composed of police that will focus on justice and strengthening the rule of law. But the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH, is not just thousands of foreign soldiers “keeping the peace.” It is the latest and most visible manifestation of the international community’s habit of intervening in Haiti, a habit that is unlikely to change.

World powers have always had a difficult time accepting Haitian sovereignty. When a slave revolt delivered Haiti independence from France in 1804, gunboat diplomacy ensured the liberated inhabitants would pay for their freedom. For the next 150 years, Haiti paid France a ransom for its continued independence. In the early 20th century, a new hegemonic power held sway, with U.S. Marines occupying the country for more than 20 years.

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