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US Senators & Reps Urge DHS to Extend TPS for Haiti

March 24, 2017 - 13:22

U.S. Senators and Representatives from Flordia wrote to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly to extend Haiti’s TPS designation when the current 18-month period expires on July 22. Signatories include US Senators Rubio and Nelson and US Representatives Alcee Hastings, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Carlos Curbelo, Frederica Wilson, and Lois Frankel.

March 24, 2017

Honorable John F. Kelly
Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
3801 Nebraska Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20016

Dear Secretary Kelly:

We write to encourage you to exercise your authority under Section 244 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1254a) to extend Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitian nationals who have been residing in the United States and benefitting from this program.

Read the full letter here.

Former Haitian Mayor Hiding in Massachusetts Sued for Human Rights Violations

March 23, 2017 - 17:35

Jean Morose Viliena fled Haiti when he was indicted on murder, battery and property destruction charges by Haitian courts in 2009. Since then, he has apparently been working as a licensed school bus driver and an Uber driver in Massachusetts, despite his history of silencing political dissidents in the town he oversaw. Instead of being prosecuted for his crimes, the Martelly government appointed Viliena mayor of Les Irois in 2012. Now that there is a case against Viliena in the U.S., this will be a test for Haiti’s new government to see whether it will allow human rights abusers to continue getting away with their crimes.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Boston bus driver and former mayor in Haiti sued for human rights abuses in U.S. court

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

March 23, 2017

A Boston school bus and Uber driver who was appointed mayor of a small Haitian village in 2012 by former Haitian President Michel Martelly despite a murder indictment in the Haitian courts is being sued in U.S. federal court for human rights abuses.

A civil lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, accuses Jean Morose Viliena, the former mayor of Les Irois in Haiti’s Grand’Anse region, of torture, extrajudicial killing, attempted extrajudicial killing and arson. The suit was filed by the San Francisco-based Center for Justice & Accountability and the multinational Dentons law firm. Lawyers are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against Viliena on behalf of three victims.

“The problem in Haiti … is if you have political connections, you can literally get away with murder,” said Scott Gilmore, a human rights attorney with the Center for Justice & Accountability. “You can be handpicked to return to office.”…

Click HERE for the full text.

Haitian Nationals Sue Former Mayor in U.S. Court

March 23, 2017 - 12:30

Three Haitian nationals are taking to the U.S. federal court system to seek justice years in the making. They sued Jean Morose Viliena, the former mayor of their village in Haiti, for murdering his political opponents and committing routine human rights abuses during his time as mayor. Viliena fled from Haiti after the courts launched investigations into his behaviors in office, and the plaintiffs are now hoping that the U.S. court system will help them accomplish what could not be done in Haiti.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Former Haitian mayor sued in Boston over human rights abuses

Scott Malone, Reuters

March 23, 2017

Three Haitian nationals sued the former mayor of their rural village on Thursday, accusing him in Boston federal court of murdering, torturing and burning the homes of his political opponents.

Lawyers for the three plaintiffs said the ex-mayor, Jean Morose Viliena, now works a school bus driver and lives in Malden, Massachusetts, where he fled to after Haitian courts began investigating his conduct while in office.

The lawyers, who are with the Center for Justice and Accountability, said they filed a civil lawsuit seeking unspecified monetary damages in Boston because Viliena had not been convicted or prosecuted in his native Haiti.

“He fled from Haitian justice, he fled from the courts, he fled from years of our clients’ efforts to have him prosecuted in Haiti, and he found safety in the Boston suburbs,” said Scott Gilmore, a lawyer with the center. “U.S. territory should not be used as a safe haven for people who commit these sorts of crimes.”

Click HERE for the original article.

Haiti’s New Prime Minister Seeks to Unite and Heal Country

March 22, 2017 - 08:52

After confirmation by the Haitian Senate and Chamber of Deputies, physician Guy Lafontant rose to second-in-command in the Haitian government. As the new Prime Minister, he urged the country to unite and build bridges between polarized, unequal and marginalized communities. Lafontant also stressed the importance of major reforms, and, like President Jovenel Moise, he committed the new administration to prioritizing agricultural investments.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the full article.

New prime minister urges Haitians to heal deep divisions

David McFadden, Associated Press

March 22, 2017

Haiti’s new prime minister on Tuesday urged this deeply polarized country to bridge divisions, and he vowed to bring steady advances even while acknowledging that the struggling nation has no shortage of accelerating problems.

Dr. Jack Guy Lafontant, a physician and political outsider approved as Haiti’s No. 2 official after clearing a final parliamentary hurdle early in the day, took the oath of office in front of politicians and dignitaries on the grounds of the national palace.

“Time is serious and the legacy is heavy. I inherited the prime minister’s job at a time when inflation is rampant, the depreciation of the (Haitian) gourd is accelerating, and where agriculture, the main backbone of our economy, continues to lose its competitiveness,” Lafontant said.

Click HERE for the original article.

 

Investigative Report Highlights Systemic Nature of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in MINUSTAH

March 22, 2017 - 07:01

While instances of sexual exploitation and abuse have been widely documented in the MINUSTAH peacekeeping mission, a new investigative report suggests that the number of formal allegations drastically underrepresents the extent of the crimes; sexual exploitation and abuse in MINUSTAH indicates a systemic problem in both the peacekeeping mission and the UN’s approach to bringing justice to the survivors. UN actions to address issues of sexual exploitation and abuse have been inadequate to affect real change, and have even deterred more people from reporting. This report highlights the preliminary findings from a 27-day investigation by independent investigator Mark Snyder, and strongly urges the UN to launch an immediate and in-depth investigation into the abuses.

Click HERE to watch a new Fault Lines documentary entitled “Haiti By Force: UN Sex Abuse.”

Part of the introduction to the investigative report is shown below. Click HERE for the full report.

UN SEA: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse at the Hands of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Investigative Report)

Mark Snyder, Center for Economic and Policy Research

January 2017

Investigative Overview: A preliminary independent investigation conducted in areas close to existing or abandoned bases for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) brings to light the alarming magnitude of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) at the hands of United Nations personnel in Haiti. The purpose of this investigation is to determine if the initial unreported cases brought to the attention of the author were isolated incidents or are instead a result of a systemic problem present in the UN’s mission in Haiti. In consultation with Haitian civil society partners, the following report considers that a further, in-depth investigation into these abuses is vital and urgent.

The results of our investigation strongly suggest that the issue of SEA by United Nations personnel in Haiti is substantial and has been grossly underreported. Using the same methodology in all areas where MINUSTAH bases are or have been located[i], a thorough and in-depth investigation would be expected to identify close to 600 victims who would agree to in-person interviews. This number in itself indicates a victim count that requires immediate attention and significant modifications to current MINUSTAH peacekeeping operations, including with regard to the manner in which UN SEA cases are investigated and reported. These preliminary findings are based on the work of one investigator during 27 days of investigation. Through a network of community contacts in eight areas where there currently is, or where there has been a MINUSTAH base, the investigation identified 42 UN SEA victims who agreed to be interviewed. With a professional investigative team, comprised of individuals with specialized expertise and the resources to cover the entire country, the likely number of documented UN SEA allegations from victims would be expected to be significantly higher.

Click HERE for the full report.

Click HERE to watch a documentary about UN sexual exploitation and abuse in Haiti.

UN Emphasizes Development Cooperation for Water and Sanitation Improvement

March 21, 2017 - 06:45

       

“Development cooperation is key to realizing rights to safe drinking water and sanitation” – UN expert

GENEVA (21 March 2016) – Everyone involved in development cooperation is being urged by a UN expert to work together to ensure that the human rights of water and sanitation are available to all people around the world.

The appeal comes from the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to water and sanitation,  Léo Heller, on World Water Day (22 March) and aims to shed light on the key role of development cooperation in the realization of the rights to water and sanitation.

Mr. Heller says: “development cooperation is a crucial element in the funding of these services in many developing countries and seems to be increasing in accordance with commitments outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”  

Although many States and multilateral organizations have declared their intention to realize the human rights to water and sanitation through development cooperation, the Special Rapporteur notes that a human rights-based approach in development programmes and projects appears to be more the exception than the rule.

“It is clear that development cooperation can establish a benchmark for those involved in the water and sanitation sector, including the governments of countries in development cooperation partnerships,” Mr. Heller says.  “If such moves are guided by a human rights approach they can contribute to the realization of the rights to water and sanitation. But if not, they can instead have a negative impact.”

The Special Rapporteur calls for a framework solidly based on human rights, prioritizing projects that benefit the poorest and most disadvantaged and supporting states to progressively realize those rights. “For outcomes to be effective and sustainable, States need strong legal, regulatory and policy frameworks. Development cooperation hence needs to focus on capacity-building activities that strengthen local authorities,” he says.

“Funding for development cooperation is on the rise but water generally receives more money than sanitation,” Mr. Heller notes. “Large systems regularly get about twice as much as smaller ones, suggesting that urban areas are being favoured to the detriment of those more rural.”

The Special Rapporteur is conducting further research involving talks with key actors, as well as field visits. His findings and related recommendations will be reflected in a report to be presented to the UN General Assembly in October.  


ENDS

Léo Heller is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, appointed in November 2014. He is a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and was previously Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014. Learn more.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

For more information and press inquiries, please contact Ms. Viktoria Aberg (+41 22 917 9790 / vaberg@ohchr.org) or write to srwatsan@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Bryan Wilson, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9826 / Mediaconsultant1@ohchr.org)  

You can access this media advisory online

Tag and share – Twitter: @UNHumanRights and Facebook: unitednationshumanrights

Secretary-General Guterres Must Ensure the UN’s Moral Debt to Haiti is Paid

March 21, 2017 - 06:38

In December 2016, after six years of trying to avoid blame for the cholera epidemic it brought to Haiti in 2010, the United Nations apologized for its role and announced a $00 million New Approach to dealing with cholera. Months later, the fund has only raised about $2 million – from voluntary contributions from South Korea, France Chile, India and Liechtenstein. It is now up to a new Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, to make sure the New Approach continues.  He “needs to use every bit of skill and good will to compel and cajole member nations and philanthropies to make the cholera campaign succeed — and with it, to settle the United Nations’ moral debt to Haiti.”

Part of the editorial is below. Click HERE for the full text.

U.N. Accepts Blame but Dodges the Bill in Haiti

Editorial Board, The New York Times

March 21, 2017

Today’s lesson in evading moral responsibility comes to us from the United Nations. The organization says it is terribly concerned about the cholera epidemic in Haiti and wishes to eliminate it. But it has not figured out when and how this is going to happen, and with what money.

The “who” and “why” are well known. The United Nations has the duty to end the cholera crisis because the United Nations caused it. The disease was unknown in modern Haiti until peacekeepers, from Nepal, introduced it. They let their raw sewage flow into a river that people use for drinking water. That was in 2010. Cholera has since killed more than 9,000 Haitians and sickened 800,000 others.

The United Nations has spent nearly all that time trying to avoid blame. Only last December did it apologize and promise to make things right. The secretary-general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, promised strenuous efforts, called the “New Approach,” to eradicate cholera from the country.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Impunity for UN Peacekeepers Who Rape Women in Haiti

March 21, 2017 - 03:39

In talking to women around Haiti, Al Jazeera Fault Lines found only one in twelve women who reported being raped by a United Nations peacekeeper. The one woman who filed the report never heard back Neither did BAI’s Mario Joseph, who sent legal notices to the UN last summer regarding paternity claims. Women in Haiti feel that the decades of UN impunity show there is no point in reporting this abuse because they will not get justice. Mario is trying to change that, though child support from UN peacekeepers is a rare occurrence.

Al Jazeera English will air this story at 2230 GMT / 2330 WAT on 22 March 2017 and repeat it on 25 March 2017 at 1630 GMT / 1730 WAT / 1830 CAT / 1930 EAT.

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

Women allegedly raped by UN peacekeepers in Haiti speak out

Kevin Kriedemann & Joy Sapieka, Bulawayo24 News

March 21, 2017

In Haiti By Force: UN Sex Abuse, Fault Lines speaks to Haitian women who say they were raped by UN peacekeepers there. Some of them were under-age at the time; some of them are now single mothers as a result; most described anonymous, violent attacks.

“The United Nations Mission in Haiti – known as MINUSTAH – was established in 2004 to help strengthen the rule of law,” says Fault Lines presenter Femi Oke. “But its legacy has been marred by a pattern of rape – UN personnel preying on the very people they’re supposed to protect… The United Nations cites 85 allegations of sex abuse in Haiti between 2008 and 2015.”

Of the more than a dozen women Fault Lines spoke to, only one had reported her rape. She never heard from MINUSTAH again; UN headquarters confirmed that nothing more was done about her case.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

UN Cholera Accountability on Hold Due to Funding Struggles

March 20, 2017 - 13:49

Last year, as the term of Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General at the time, came to an end, the United Nations finally admitted the role the UN played in Haiti’s cholera epidemic and said the UN didn’t do enough to end the epidemic. Ban Ki-moon then promised to develop a new strategy to fight cholera. This strategy still hasn’t been implemented due to an extreme lack of funding from UN member states. The new Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, is struggling to come up with new ideas of how to raise funds, which are currently at less than $10 million out of the $400 million the UN promised to Haiti. What will it take, and how long until the UN has the funds to be accountable for the epidemic it caused?

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

UN Fails Miserably To Raise Funds For Haiti

Julianna LeMieux, American Council on Science and Health

March 20, 2017

Last October, following the UN General Assembly, we wrote of the urgency needed for the global health crisis occurring in Haiti. At that time, the former Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, admitted the role of the UN in starting the cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010 and spoke directly about the need for a new strategy to aid the country.

He said, “A new strategy is needed to alleviate their distress and improve their living conditions. We are firmly resolved to fulfill this moral responsibility.” he said,  “Later, I will give you details on this strategy. Let us work together to meet our obligations to the Haitian people.”

And, like a fool, I believed him.

What I did not realize is that he was a magician with a card trick. He was talking about providing the details of the strategy instead of talking about the issue at hand – who is going to pay for it.

 

Click HERE for the full text.

Une situation alarmante pour les Haïtiens affectés par l’ouragan Matthew

March 20, 2017 - 13:33

Après l’ouragan Matthew, beaucoup étaient préoccupés par la crise qui résulterait de la dévastation d’agriculture. Maintenant, la dévastation devient pire avec des gens affamés dans la région de Grand Anse. Le député Benoit Jean-Guerrier exige le gouvernment haïtien a agir bientôt, et il a annoncé une conférence de presse pour attirer l’attention a la situation terrible. Selon cet article, “Il y a quelques semaines, la CNSA avait tiré la sonnette d’alarme sur la dégradation de la sécurité alimentaire dans les départements affectés par l’ouragan Matthew.”

Partie de l’article est ci-dessous. Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

Grand’Anse, la faim gagne du terrain

Roberson Alphonse, Le Nouvelliste

20 mars 2017

National –

Plus de cinq mois après Matthew et son lot de dévastations, des habitants de sections communales reculées de la Grand’ Anse, par vagues successives, enjambent les montagnes, arrivent voûtés de désespoirs dans les bourgades comme Moron, Chabellan ou Dame-Marie. L’estomac criant famine, ces infortunés du sort racontent, sans être crus de certaines autorités, que des gens crèvent de faim dans les mornes. Pour avoir vécu l’après Azel, deux fois moins pire que Matthew, Jean-Claude Fignolé, un enfant de la Grand ‘Anse, fait foi aux récits donnant froid dans le dos, grâce à des témoignages remontés de ses réseaux, de ses sources. « Il y a un niveau de détresse que les mots ne rendent pas », confie au journal Jean-Claude Fignolé, écrivain, ex-maire d’Abricot, membre du conseil d’administration de Food For the Poor.

Il croit, Jean-Claude Fignolé, dans l’histoire des quatre membres d’une même famille à Kawan, tenaillés par la faim, qui ont décidé de manger du « gro tayo » tout en sachant que cette racine pouvait à ce moment être toxique, mortelle. Jean-Claude Fignolé, citant une source à Pestel, rapporte que sept autres personnes sont mortes dans des zones reculées de cette commune acculée entre la montagne et la côte. À Castache, un couple de personnes âgées a tué son chien pour assouvir sa faim avant de commettre l’irréparable : le suicide par pendaison, confie-t-il. Les personnes âgées, les femmes enceintes, les gens malades ou faibles résistent difficilement à ce niveau de privation…

 

Cliquez ICI pour le texte complet.

UN Falls Short of Promises to Cholera Victims

March 19, 2017 - 06:20

The apology from former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and announcement of the “New Approach” to combat cholera in Haiti raised hopes that justice would be done in response to the horrific outbreak, which was brought to the country by Nepalese peacekeepers. However, the reality sends quite a different message; the UN has raised only a fraction of the promised, and necessary, funds. Current political contexts deemphasizing foreign aid, uncertainty over effective UN policies and donor fatigue have contributed to the fundraising failure. However, the time is past for excuses, and those affected by the deadly outbreak deserve more than empty promises from the UN.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Click HERE to read IJDH and BAI’s letter to the UN Secretary-General.

After Bringing Cholera to Haiti, U.N. Can’t Raise Money to Fight It

Rick Gladstone, New York Times

March 19, 2017

When the leader of the United Nations apologized to Haitians for the choleraepidemic that has ravaged their country for more than six years — caused by infected peacekeepers sent to protect them — he proclaimed a “moral responsibility” to make things right.

The apology, announced in December along with a $400 million strategy to combat the epidemic and “provide material assistance and support” for victims, amounted to a rare public act of contrition by the United Nations. Under its secretary general at the time, Ban Ki-moon, the organization had resisted any acceptance of blame for the epidemic, one of the worst cholera outbreaks in modern times.

Since then, however, the United Nations’ strategy to fight the epidemic, which it calls the “New Approach,” has failed to gain traction. A trust fund created to help finance the strategy has only about $2 million, according to the latest data on its website. Just six of the 193 member states — Britain, Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea — have donated.

Other countries have provided additional sources of anti-cholera funding for Haitioutside the trust fund, most notably Canada, at about $4.6 million, and Japan, at $2.6 million, according to the United Nations. Nonetheless, the totals received are a fraction of what Mr. Ban envisioned.

Click HERE for the original article.

U.N. Secretary-General Recommends ‘Gradual’ Withdrawal of Military Peacekeepers

March 17, 2017 - 07:44

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres submitted a report detailing his suggestions for MINUSTAH’s gradual withdrawal from Haiti. He suggests phasing out the military component, and replacing it with a smaller mission to focus on strengthening the Haitian police force, the judiciary and human rights. Haiti is still in a period of transition, marked by a new and politically-inexperienced government and recovery from years of vulnerability to natural disasters. Guterres urges partners and U.N. member states to remain committed to supporting Haiti, leading up to and after MINUSTAH’s withdrawal, in order to ensure continued progress in Haiti.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

U.N. secretary general: Time for peacekeeping mission in Haiti to end

Jacqueline Charles, Miami Herald

March 17, 2017

It’s time for the United Nations’ 2,300 blue-helmet soldiers in Haiti to head home after 13 years, the head of the world body recommended in a report to the U.N. Security Council this week.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said that the peacekeeping operation in Haiti should close by Oct. 15. Guterres made the recommendation in a 37-page U.N. report obtained by the Miami Herald.

“The military component should undergo a staggered but complete withdrawal of the 2,370 personnel,” Guterres said of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which is more commonly known by its French acronym, MINUSTAH.

Guterres’ recommendation comes as President Donald Trump seeks to significantly cut the United States’ U.N. contribution with a particular focus on reductions in peacekeeping, environment and development. At the same time, the Trump administration is proposing to slash funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Haiti’s biggest donor.

Click HERE for the original article.

BAI and IJDH Request Cholera Meeting with New Secretary-General

March 16, 2017 - 19:29

March 16, 2017

H.E. Secretary-General António Guterres

United Nations

New York, N.Y. 10017

Dear Mr. Secretary-General,

We write to you on behalf of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) to request a meeting to discuss the UN’s New Approach to Cholera in Haiti. As advocates for Haitian cholera victims, we congratulate you on your declared vision of building a culture of accountability in UN peacekeeping and ensuring effective remedies to victims of peacekeeping harms. The New Approach to Cholera in Haiti is a vital opportunity to realize that vision, and to ensure that the rights and dignity of victims are put first throughout the UN’s responses to peacekeeping harms. We are deeply concerned, however, that the current trajectory of fundraising and elaboration of the New Approach is betraying the UN’s promises of a meaningful and accountable response in Haiti.

For the past six years, BAI and IJDH have been the lead organizations advocating for remedies for victims of the cholera epidemic. We filed claims on behalf of 5,000 victims with the UN’s third-party claims process; represented Haitian and Haitian-American cholera victims in Georges v. United Nations in federal court in New York; and filed a complaint with the UN Special Procedures system that culminated in the report by Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. We continue to engage in advocacy with the UN system and to work with some of the most affected communities in Haiti to share information, facilitate conversations and organize actions toward the realization of their rights.

Last December, we welcomed Secretary-General Ban’s apology to the Haitian people and the two-track plan officially launched before the General Assembly, particularly the commitment to a $200 million package of material assistance to those most affected by cholera. We celebrated the pledge to “put victims at the centre of the work and be responsive to their needs and concerns” and to “consult with victims and their families and communities” in developing the material assistance package. We were heartened by the commitment, reiterated in your letter to member states of February 21, 2017, to explore a multi-funded solution in the absence of sufficient voluntary contributions to finance the New Approach.

Your administration is now faced with the challenge of transforming the promises in the New Approach into concrete results for the people of Haiti. We are deeply concerned that three months after the launch of the New Approach, it remains woefully underfunded at only 2%. While we are sensitive to the political challenges of fundraising, we are disappointed that the Secretariat does not intend to present the New Approach to the resumed session of the Fifth Committee, and will instead continue to rely on other forms of voluntary contributions that show no promise of bringing the New Approach anywhere close to being fully funded. We are deeply concerned that if the UN continues on this path, the commitments made in the New Approach will not be honored, cholera in Haiti will continue unabated, and victims will not be able to access remedies.

Righting the UN’s wrongs in Haiti is a collective responsibility of the Organization as a whole, and the resourcing of the New Approach falls on Member States. But progress on this issue has always required courageous leadership by senior UN leadership to overcome reluctance in other parts of the UN system. We urge you to build on your recent letter to Member States, by making resolving the Haiti cholera situation one of your key priorities. Without strong, visible leadership from the Secretary-General, we fear that the New Approach will produce yet another broken promise in Haiti and only serve to deepen the stain on the Organization’s reputation.

It is also essential that the challenges of raising funds not impair a victim-centered elaboration of Track 2. We note that the Secretary-General’s December report pledges to further assess and report on the “feasibility, costs and risks” of direct payments to the families of those killed by cholera, and commits to doing so in consultation with victims. We are concerned that to date, the UN has been unwilling to engage victims directly in such a process, or produce an in-depth analysis of the options for a material assistance package. It is particularly concerning that there does not appear to be a concrete plan for further elaborating or consulting on the individual payment approach, given the long mobilization by victims in Haiti for compensation and its centrality to the right to a remedy.

The UN’s promised engagement with victims cannot wait until the approach is fully designed and funded—their voices must be heard throughout the process of building and elaborating the New Approach if Track 2 is to be accepted as a credible expression of regret in Haiti. A robust and transparent analysis of the options for providing material assistance, informed by victim views, would also greatly increase the likelihood that Track 2 is designed and implemented in a manner that is effective and well-received, while giving Member States and other donors the information they need to make funding decisions.

Since the announcement of a new UN response in August 2016 we have been pleased to engage continuously with the Track 2 team led by Mr. Ross Mountain. We value the critical work they have undertaken to develop the material assistance package. In these meetings, we have repeatedly expressed the above concerns. We now write to you to appeal for your personal resolve to ensure that the promise of a human rights-based and victim-centered New Approach becomes a reality. It would be a travesty of justice if the UN, after having made so much progress towards a just response, abandoned this opportunity to demonstrate accountability in Haiti.

The implementation of the New Approach, although challenging, presents your office with the chance to set a powerful example of a culture of accountability, resolve one of the most damaging episodes in the UN’s history, and end the world’s worst cholera epidemic while rebuilding the lives of thousands of Haiti’s most marginalized people. We strongly encourage you to exercise your leadership to maximize this opportunity, for the people of Haiti and for the United Nations. We are confident that your personal leadership on the matter will affect whether the UN keeps its promises to the Haitian people, and look forward to the opportunity to discuss this potential in person.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of our highest consideration.

Sincerely,

Mario Joseph, Av., Managing Attorney of Bureau des Avocats Internationaux

Brian Concannon, Jr., Esq., Executive Director of Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Click HERE for the pdf version of this letter.

Haitian Migrants in Mexico Look Towards the Future

March 16, 2017 - 11:03

Thousands of Haitian migrants currently reside in Mexican border towns, stuck in a state of limbo after their dreams of political asylum in the United States were crushed. Many are seeking to start new lives by building houses and seeking approval from the Mexican government to work. The large influx of Haitian migrants to the area has created lively Haitian communities, where many are looking to turn their temporary situations into permanent homes. However, a large number of migrants are still waiting for approval from Mexico’s National Migration Institute to stay in the country, and this uncertainty poses major threats to their security and stability in the future.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Stranded Haitian migrants seek new home on Mexico-U.S. border

Lizbeth Diaz, Reuters

March 16, 2017

Kneeling on a patch of flat earth with a shovel in hand, Thea Nonce Jean tips cement where a floor is about to be laid.

His house is the first to be built in a tiny Haitian community on the edge of Tijuana, Mexico, a city just south of the U.S. border.

“There’s room for around 100 families on these plots, that means around 400 people. They can’t keep living in the shelters,” said Gustavo Banda, a local pastor who gave up the land for the construction of the settlement.

Jean, a 32-year-old Haitian stranded thousands of miles from home after hopes of asylum in the United States faded last year, is one of hundreds from the poor Caribbean nation now seeking to make a life in Tijuana.

Click HERE for the original article.

20-0 Vote in Haitian Senate Approves Prime Minister

March 16, 2017 - 09:31

Haitian president Jovenel Moise’s pick for Prime Minister, Guy Lafontant, was approved in the Haitian Senate by a 20-0 vote, with 7 abstentions. This marks his first step forward in pursuit of office, after the Senate confirmation hearing was delayed last Monday. The physician has been criticized for his delinquent tax history; he paid five years worth of taxes only after being nominated. Next, the decision will move on to the lower house, which must also approve the designate before he is to take office.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Haiti’s Senate Approves Prime Minister-Designate

Voice of America

March 16, 2017

Haiti’s prime minister-designate has cleared the first major hurdle toward reaching office.

Jack Guy Lafontant was approved early Thursday in the Senate by a vote of 20-0, with seven lawmakers abstaining. He still has to be approved by the lower house and its 119 members. A date has not been set for the balloting.

The Senate vote came at roughly 6:30 a.m. local time, capping nearly 17 straight hours of deliberations about Lafontant’s record and his proposed policies.

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Haitian Senate Urges Immediate Return of Guy Philippe in New Resolution

March 15, 2017 - 11:48

The majority of the Haitian Senate voted in favor of a resolution that strongly condemns the arrest and extradition to the United States of elected Senator Guy Philippe. The resolution describes Philippe’s arrest as unconstitutional and cites an agreement dated October 17, 1997 as the source of the conflict. It urges the Haitian government to take the necessary steps for Philippe’s immediate return to Haiti and to assist Philippe and his family.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

The Senate votes a resolution in favor of Guy Philippe

HaitiLibre

March 16, 2017

19 out of 24 Senators voted a resolution strongly condemning the arrest and extradition of their colleague, the elected Senator of Grand’Anse, Guy Philippe, on January 5 http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-19721-haiti-flash-senator-guy-philippe-extradited-to-the-usa.html

In this resolution (proposed by Senators Carl Murat Cantave, Jean-Marie Ralph Féthière, Jean-Marie Salomon, Jean Renel Sénatus, Jean Rigaud Bélizaire, Kedlair Augustin, Pierre François Sildor and Richard Lénine Hervé Fourcand), the conscript fathers demand the return of Guy Philippe and all those who are illegally detained in the United States under the agreement of 17 October 1997.

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After Half-Apology for Cholera, UN Still Has Much to Do Towards Justice

March 13, 2017 - 17:33

Mennonite Central Committee, one of IJDH’s partners in the fight for cholera justice, describes some of the steps that led to then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s apology to the Haitian people on December 1, 2016. Although such an admission was unprecedented in UN history, it still only represented a half-apology, as Ban failed to mention the UN’s responsibility for bringing the cholera epidemic to Haiti in 2010. The UN also has yet to make good on the new cholera plan that Ban announced the same day as the apology. As Ban himself said that day, “words cannot replace action and material support.”

Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text.

U.N. Witness: Half an apology

Kati Garrison, Mennonite World Review

March 13, 2017

On Dec. 1, the staff of the Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Office awaited the commencement of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s address to the people of Haiti. After more than six years of advocacy efforts, we eagerly anticipated an apology for bringing cholera to the region.

In October 2010, only nine months after an earthquake devastated the capitol area of Haiti, a cholera outbreak hit the country. Since then, this disease, which formerly had no record in Haiti, has killed more than 9,300 Haitians and sickened more than 753,000.

A panel of experts reported that cholera emerged from bacterial contamination of the Meye Tributary System near the base of U.N. peacekeepers who “routinely disposed of untreated fecal waste in unprotected, open air pits . . . that caused a serious risk of overflow.”

Over the past six years, the MCC U.N. office has called for justice for Haiti’s cholera victims. Direct communication with MCC staff in Haiti guided these endeavors. Through collaboration with strong partners, such as the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, we have pursued multiple avenues to a comprehensive response.

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12 Congresspeople Urge Trump Administration to Keep Haiti State Department Office

March 13, 2017 - 15:25

A bipartisan group of 12 lawmakers wrote to President Trump urging the administration to keep the State Department office dedicated to providing assistance to Haiti. This office has overseen $4.6 billion in humanitarian relief since it was created in 2010. The letter was spurred by the Trump administration’s current consideration of budget cuts to the State Department.

Lawmakers urge Trump administration to keep Haiti office

Kevin Freking, The Washington Post

March 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the Trump administration on Monday to maintain an independent State Department office dedicated to assisting poverty-stricken Haiti even as it weighs major budget cuts for the department.

The letter from a dozen lawmakers noted that Haiti has been struck by several natural and man-made disasters in recent years. A 2010 earthquake displaced more than 1 million Haitians and killed many thousands. A cholera epidemic ensued. Also, Hurricane Mathew killed about 1,000 Haitians last year and caused more than $1 billion in property damage.

“These events have created unique challenges that require designated State Department staff to coordinate relief to the Western Hemisphere’s most distressed economy,” said the lawmakers’ letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y. The letter was signed by 10 Democrats and two Republicans, including Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, a daughter of Haitian immigrants.

The lawmakers noted that the Haiti-focused office has overseen $4.6 billion in humanitarian relief since it was created following the 2010 earthquake. That aid has allowed for significant economic progress, they said, and is important to “maintain this progress and institutional knowledge at this critical juncture.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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Migrants Face Impending Humanitarian Crisis Along Mexican Border

March 13, 2017 - 08:13

The situation along the northern border of Mexico is approaching a humanitarian crisis, experts say. Thousands of migrants lack shelter, food or any source of income, as uncertainty looms surrounding the possibility of asylum. Many individuals and civil associations are taking the initiative to launch pilot programs to help the dislocated migrants meet their basic needs.

Part of the article is shown below. Click HERE for the original article.

Thousands Of Deported Haitians And Africans Wait To Cross The Border In Tijuana

Aída Chávez, Konbini

March 13, 2017

In recent years the number of deportees living in El Bordo zone that forms part of the drainage system from the Tijuana River located at the border with San Diego has escalated to catastrophic levels. According to the National Institute of Migration, this community of deported migrants is formed mainly of Haitian and African refugees, and between 2016 and 2017 reached almost 3,700 people – all stranded in Tijuana and hoping for re-entrance to the US.

The deportees, waiting to pass into the United States without documentation, are living in impoverished conditions where drugs (especially heroin) are only too easy to come by due to the presence of organized crime at the border.  

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UN Fundraising for Cholera Victims at 2% of Necessary Funds

March 12, 2017 - 11:15

After admitting the role of UN peacekeepers in causing Haiti’s deadly cholera outbreak, the UN is far behind in its goals to remedy the crisis. The ambitious $400 million plan would provide reparations to cholera victims, decrease the number of yearly cholera cases and invest in development projects to provide more clean drinking water and toilets. However, voluntary contributions to the campaign have constituted a mere 2% of necessary funds, sending a clear red flag that cholera victims may continue to wait for their promised reparations, or not receive them at all.

An excerpt is shown below. Click HERE for the full story.

UN Fund to Fight Cholera in Haiti at 2 Percent of Goal

Voice of America Learning English

March 12, 2017

Late last year, the United Nations promised to strengthen its fight against the spread of the deadly cholera disease. U.N. peacekeeping troops unknowingly brought the disease to Haiti seven years ago.

But, so far, the U.N. has raised just a small amount of the estimated $400 million it needs over the next two years to fight the disease.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote that the voluntary funding received so far makes up only 2 percent of its goal. It has received around $8 million in funding.

The letter said that, as of February 8, Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea together had promised almost $2 million. Outside of that fund, Japan has promised $2.6 million and Canada has committed about $6 million.

Guterres asked all member states to notify him by March 6 of their plans to help finance the campaign.

Click HERE for the full story.