FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Friday:  August 15, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Haiti (19)

Saturday
Mar102012

One Year Anniversary of Japan Tsunami Commemorated With 'Healing Anthem' (REPORT)

(PHOTO: DemocraticUnderground.COM) 

(HN, March 10, 2012)  From Tokyo - On the one-year anniversary of the tsunami and earthquake in northern Japan, noted Japanese soprano Tomoko Shibata will perform a Japanese translation of the American healing anthem “Towers of Light” at her memorial concert at the prestigious Yamaha Hall in Tokyo. The event on Sunday evening will commemorate the victims of last year’s Japanese tsunami and earthquake. 

Towers of Light” was composed by noted New York clinical psychologist and well-known radio and TV personality, Dr. Judy Kuriansky and international composer Russell Daisey.  Inspired by the two beams of light which shine on each 9/11 anniversary at the Ground Zero site where the Twin Towers fell, the song promotes healing and commemorates the heroes of that day. 

Through the unique friendship and shared vision of healing between the American and Japanese writers and performer, “Towers of Light” will now be featured by Tomoko Shibata in her ‘Songs of Hope’ concert.

The New York composing team of Kuriansky and Daisey are in Tokyo for the premiere of their song in Japanese at the concert and will make introductory remarks at the event.

Shibata produces and performs ‘Songs for Hope’ concerts at the earthquake zone in Japan and also around the world.

Says Shibata, “I passionately believe that music gives hope and lifts spirits of people in trauma.” 

(PHOTO: Dr. Judy Kuriansky, Russell Daisey performing in Tokyo/DRJUDYK)Fear of another quake is ever-present in Japan, she explains, and people around the world also experience trauma and need comfort. 

“My heart expands and people feel like crying when I sing the ‘Towers of Light’ song,” Shibata says. “So I wanted to make a Japanese version so the Japanese people can appreciate the warm feeling and healing.” 

Shibata first sang the “Towers of Light” anthem with Dr. Judy and Russell in September 2010 for the highly acclaimed series of Hiroshima Hibaku (Survivor) Piano concerts in New York City. Subsequently, she sang it for the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 at the 'Annual 9/11 Japanese Floating Lantern Ceremony’ on the East River, NYC.

Over the past few years, Dr. Judy, Russell and Tomoko have performed the song together and through their friendship and creative collaborations the song has been translated into Japanese by Tomoko as “Souls Become Stars.”  Given their shared vision, this endeavor for peace has expanded and transcended the song’s initial inspiration, to encompass a connection between the two monumental tragedies of 9/11 and 3/11, as well as fostering healing for survivors of both catastrophes. 

Kuriansky and Daisey are co-founders of the Stand Up for Peace Project (SUFPP), an initiative that promotes peace, understanding and healing worldwide. They have performed the healing ballad “Towers of Light” internationally at peace festivals, United Nations conferences, Global Harmony concerts, peace seminars, and music and peace tours throughout Japan, Mexico and Haiti, as well as at the First Hiroshima International Peace Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, for Nobel Peace Laureates, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Betty Williams.

“Powerful, very powerful,” said the Dalai Lama when he first heard the song.

“As an international psychologist and an NGO representative at the United Nations, it is powerful to me that our song to help heal from 9/11 is now in Japanese and helping people heal from 3/11.  The intensity of that cross-cultural connection brings me to tears," says Kuriansky.

The humanitarian, who represents psychological organizations at the United Nations, has provided psychological first aide after the 9/11 terrorist attacks at Ground Zero and at the Family Assistance Center, as well as after other disasters including the Asian tsunami and earthquakes in Haiti and China.  She teaches psychology at Columbia University Teachers College and runs peace workshops world-wide. 

SUFPP co-founder Daisey is an internationally acclaimed pianist/singer/songwriter who has played command performances for American presidents and world dignitaries, including Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and the Chiniya Lama of Kathmandu, Nepal.

On Monday, the day after the concert and 3/11 anniversary, Kuriansky, Daisey and Shibata will travel to the Miyagi area, to do a workshop and music concert for several schools.  They will be joined by famous Japanese pop star Shinji Harada. All have been working on recovery and global harmony projects separately and together for years in varying parts of the world.

--- Dr. Judy Kuriansky is a member of HUM's Board of Advisors

Saturday
Mar102012

The Continuing Saga of UN Impunity (BLOG/REPORT)  

By Kristen Saloomey

Al Jazeera’s Kristen Saloomey meets a family of children who lost their father – and his income – to cholera [ Ben Moran]

The United Nations is no stranger to scandal.

There are the wayward peacekeeping troops who take advantage of the vulnerable people they are supposed to be protecting and commit rape and sexual abuse. Think: Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of  Congo.

Then there’s corruption, as happened in the Oil-for-Food Programme. While that programme was enacted in 1995 to stop Iraqi children from starving under international sanctions, it is better known for lining the pockets of UN officials.

And, finally, there are times when the UN, plain and simply, messes up. Like when the UN’s gross negligence apparently caused a cholera epidemic to sweep through Haiti starting in 2010. 

That is the allegation of two legal organisations who have filed a complaint seeking damages on the part of more than 5,000 Haitians who suffered sickness or losses.

Nepalese peacekeepers

The lawsuit reflects what many Haitians believe and what several scientific studies support - that  Nepalese peacekeepers who were not effectively screened for the disease imported it to the country and allowed it to spread through their improper disposal of sewage.

The recurring issue in all of these scandals is the inability to hold the UN accountable for its crimes and misdeeds. As the only organisation with the power to set international law, the UN is also, in fact, above the very laws it claims to represent.

It’s not supposed to be that way. True, the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, signed in 1946, grants immunity from prosecution for UN employees in their host country. But it also highlights the importance of accountability for the UN, as a bulwark for human rights and the rule of law.

In criminal cases, it falls to the country of the accused UN employee to pursue charges.

Review and reimbursement

When it comes to civil claims, the UN tends to handle them at the local level. A UN helicopter blew the roof off of your grass hut? A UN truck ran over your cow? There’s a procedure for reviewing your claim and reimbursing you.

But some complaints are so large, and so expensive, they get sent back to the legal department at UN headquarters in New York. And the bigger the complaint, the more likely it is to disappear in the ether above the thirty-eighth floor of the Secretariat Building.

Here’s another example. Since 2005, 143 displaced Roma have been going after the UN Mission in Kosovo for failing to relocate them from UN-administered land that was known to contain poisonous lead.

The case has been tossed out of two European courts, even though in 2009 the Kosovo Human Rights Advisory Commission determined the admissibility of  the complainants’ legal petition, which also charges gross negligence.

In Haiti, cholera victims have called on the UN to establish a “standing claims commission” to hear their case.

Such a commission is required under the Status of Forces Agreement the UN signs with every country where it sends peacekeepers.

And yet the UN cannot point to a single time in its 60 year history that such a commission has been formed.

The UN has been “studying” the Haitian complaint for nearly five months.

Government's stand

One problem, according to legal experts, is that the Haitian government refuses to back the claim of its citizens.

"We are not focused on blaming people here. We are focused on solving the situation," President Michel Martelly said when asked about the complaint recently.

Haiti's government depends largely on the UN for donations and the provision of many basic civil services. Given its dependence, Martelly’s reluctance to press the UN is perhaps not surprising. Nor is the fact that Haiti has been home to so many UN scandals.

That is also precisely why advocates say it is so important to give victims their day in court. They are asking the UN not only to pay damages to victims, but also apologise and help fix the country’s woefully inept water sanitation system.

"They promote human rights," explained Mario Joseph, a Haitian lawyer representing the victims, "[yet] they deny the rights of the Haitian people."

Benedict Moran contributed to this blog

- Originally published on AlJazeera under Creative Commons License 

Monday
Dec262011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/26/11

Afghanistan

High Power consumption the main factor of electricity outage

Canada 

(PHOTO: The provincial government of British Columbia has created a task force team to handle the tonnes of debris from the Japanese tsunami floating in the Pacific Ocean that is expected to hit B.C. shores. US NAVY)B.C. launches task force to manage coming tsunami debris

China 

Asia to be largest corporate, investment banking market by 2015: McKinsey

Congo (DRC)

Capital markets: Burj Capital thrives against the tide

Cuba 

US 'Disappointed' Cuba Will Not Release American Prisoner

Egypt 

(PHOTO: Ismail Haniya, Gaza Strip PM. EPA)Palestinian PM in Cairo

Ethiopia

Egypt deports 93 Ethiopians using the country as a transit stop to reach Israel illegally

Haiti 

Haitian migrants found dead off Cuban coast

Iran 

Iranian diplomats review Islamic awakening in Arab states

Tehran, Tunis Able to Further Develop Relations Far from Sectarian Differences

Iran President underlines development of ties with Africa

Iraq 

Iraq blocks Jordanian trucks heading to Turkey over Syria concerns

Israel 

Israeli gas quests plagued by pirates

Libya 

We are pumping more than a million barrels of oil a day, says Libya

Nepal 

Nepal sets up diplomatic ties with Solomon Islands

Nigeria 

Africa’s Biggest Street Party Takes Centre Stage

Paraguay

Paraguay, stuck in siesta mode, awaits Lugo's exit

Somalia 

Somalia: Protesters march the streets to stop violence aimed at aid workers 

South Korea 

(PHOTO: RIA NOVOSTI)S.Korea: doctors charged over deal with pharmaceutical companies

Spain 

Spain: King Juan Carlos Says Fighting Joblessness Top Priority

Sri Lanka 

Sri Lankan female ex-rebels faces uncertain future

Sudan 

Sudan’s Ancient Civilization: Nubian Kingdoms and the Christian Era

Svalbard and Jan Mayen (Arctic Ocean)

Pack ice breaking up in Svalbard in the arctic north of Norway (PHOTO)

 

Swaziland

Marriage trouble for Mandla Mandela  

Sweden

The tallest revolving door in the world

Busy Christmas weekend for the Swedish police

Syria

Syria Faces a New, Long-Term Phase

Taiwan

Taiwanese banks will back plant restoration in Thailand

More sons in Taiwan get inheritances than daughters: report

Tajikistan

Wheat genetics in Tajikistan could help feed the world

Tanzania

Exposed: Dar lacks disaster response system

Thailand

High waves ravage S. Thailand, thousand affected, tourists marooned

Tonga

Tonga National Population Census 2011; Preliminary Count

Trinidad and Tobago

Business owners crying as shoppers watch their pockets

Tunisia

Tunisian women’s group ATFD wins Simone de Beauvoir award

Turkey

(PHOTO: Turkey's learning disabled students. SUNDAY'S ZAMAN)Learning disabilities often confused with mental retardation in Turkey

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan to hold talks on laying international fiber-optic communication lines

Tuvalu

Anglicans tiding Tuvalu over

Uganda

Hopping mad: Uganda power cuts hit grasshopper harvest

Ukraine

Iran, Ukraine to sign oil contracts

Ukraine and Russia to hold next round of gas talks on Jan 15

Ukraine to produce 36 million tonnes of steel in 2012

United Arab Emirates

DHA: No local emergence of malaria

Most in UAE borrow to splurge, says expert

Dassanayake to embark on talent hunt

United Kingdom

Pen woman swallowed 25 years ago works

UK taxpayers face extra £250m bill for nuclear waste clean-up

The globalised underclass (Perspective)

United States

Hackers target United States security think tank

Child Homelessness on the Rise in the US 

Giant shrimp raises big concern as it invades the Gulf of Mexico

Uruguay

Uruguay to Adapt Agriculture to climate change conditions

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s courts launch fight against corruption

Vanuatu

Nursing School gets educational material from Rotary

Global Fund for Environment Projects Ends Year in Vanuatu

Venezuela

Chavez issues Christmas amnesty to 140 prisoners

Vietnam

(PHOTO: Thailand's `Bubble Woman'. THANH NIEN NEWS) Vietnam’s Bubble Woman to be treated in HCMC 

Vietnam still doesn’t have regulations to treat electronics waste

Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program in Vietnam, yielding positive results

More int’l brands shifting base to Vietnam from China

Yemen

Photos of Yemen’s Deepening Humanitarian Challenges

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh heads to United States after government forces attack peaceful protesters

Zambia

Zambia’s poor still waiting for change after Sata’s 90 days

MTN Zambia launches solar green site

Women for Change launches ‘Zambia We Want Charter’

Zimbabwe

Reform efforts in Zimbabwe move slowly

Medical student wins Face of Zimbabwe pageant

Friday
Aug192011

WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY 2011 – `People Helping People’ 

-- Since 2009 the world’s community of nations has celebrated World Humanitarian Day on August 19, as a day dedicated to recognizing humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working in service for humanitarian causes.

This year, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is focusing its attention on the devastating famine crisis in the Horn of Africa; but is also asking the global public for their ideas on how to change the world.  

 

The day is celebrated in honor of the tireless efforts of former UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello, who died August 19, 2003 along with 21 other colleagues in a bombing of the UN compound in Baghdad, Iraq.  A national of Brazil, Sérgio Vieira de Mello died at age 55 after dedicating 34 years to the United Nations, international cause issues and bringing peace and comfort to the world’s citizens.  He served fearlessly in some of the most challenging humanitarian situations, and died at age 55 leaving a legacy of peaceful co-existence and awareness of the need for people to help people.

The Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation works to remind the world every day that the sacrifice and tragic loss of Vieira de Mello, and all humanitarian personnel who have made the ultimate effort to relieve the suffering of victims of war and inequity, have not been in vain.

Since 2006 the Vieira de Mello family and a group of close friends have dedicated their lives to continue his unfinished mission by supporting initiatives to promote dialogue for peaceful reconciliation of communities divided by conflict through an annual Sergio Vieira Mello Award, an Annual Sergio Vieira Mello Memorial Lecture, a Sergio Vieira de Mello Fellowship and advocating for the security and independence of humanitarians worldwide.

People helping people, Sergio Vieira de Mello would be proud.

On this day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon offers this message:

“There is never a year without humanitarian crises.  And wherever there are people in need, there are people who help them – men and women coming together to ease suffering and bring hope.  From Japan to Sudan, from Pakistan to the Horn of Africa, aid workers help people who have lost their homes, loved ones and sources of income.  These humanitarians often brave great danger, far from home.  They work long hours, in the most difficult conditions.  Their efforts save lives in conflict and natural disaster.  They also draw the world closer together by reminding us that we are one family, sharing the same dreams for a peaceful planet, where all people can live in safety, and with dignity.

On World Humanitarian Day, we honour these aid workers and thank them for their dedication.  And we pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice – in Afghanistan, Haiti and beyond.  Too many have died, or suffered their own loss, in the course of duty.  We pledge to do all we can to ensure the world’s humanitarians are kept safe to do their essential work.   This is also a day to examine our own lives and consider what more we can do to help -- to reach out to people enduring conflict, disaster and hardship.  Let those we honour today inspire us to start our own journey to make the world a better place and bring our human family more closely together.”

--HUMNEWS staff

Wednesday
Jun082011

HEADLINES - The Caribbean - June 8, 2011

The Carribean:

(Courtesy: CARPHA) It’s World Ocean Day:  A World Ocean

Caribbean countries sign firearms agreement

Caribbean health agency close to establishment

Agenda set for CARICOM meeting next month

Anguilla

Anguilla - independence within Caricom dimmed?

Domestic Violence Bill Presented in Anguilla

Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), Considering Layoffs

Mother, Police Testify in Mullany/Anderson Trial

Government prepares to export first major mango shipment

Aruba

Aruba film festival unveils 2011 lineup

Bahamas

Customs going after officers involved in scams

Bahamian businessman to buy cruise liner

A graduating senior's advice

(Courtesy: Bahamas Press) Madam Senator Maynard Gibson at the IWF’s Rome Cornerstone Conference

Barbados

Two-day fogging of Bridgetown for Mosquitoes

Research proves images have effect on youth (commentary)

Bermuda

Bermuda hosts global tax forum

 Cayman Islands

Shot fired as masked would-be robbers foiled (The scene at the Strand early Tuesday after a shooting was reported. Courtesy: Dennie Warren, Jr.)

Solar powers catboat passion

Cuba

Cuba: Reforms up against the clock

Dominica

Dominica Brewery launches ‘Kubuli Fest’

(Mother “Fingers” and her baby “Thumb,” swim together off the coast of Dominica. Courtesy: DominicaNewsNet)Researchers find that Dominica whales use accents to communicate

Dominican Republic

LatAm health risk managers gather in the Dominican capital

IMF sees Dominican Republic growth of 5.5% on harsher policies

Dominican Republic among hemisphere’s natural gas leaders, AES Dominicana says

 

 

Grenada

Grenada hospital fund makes major donation to Ministry of Health 

Grenada Postal Corporation Launches GPC Global

Guadeloupe

Lightning strike forces KLM to divert flight to Guadeloupe

Haiti

Severe Weather Leaves 23 Dead in Haiti

UN provides help to relief efforts in flood-hit Haitian capital

Jamaica

Jamaicans have plenty to cheer about at 2011 Adidas Grand Prix

Rape report for Jamaica

Agriculture Ministry Launches Training Manuals to Guide Farmers in Best Practices

Montserrat

(Chief Minister of Monserrat, Reuben Meade. Courtesy: Monserrat Reporter) ss conference-new power stationsFunds approved for new power station for Montserrat, geothermal energy still to be explored

Cayman entrepreneurs energise Montserrat during YES Caribbean

Puerto Rico

Agents seize Puerto Rican kingpin’s cars, boats, watches, Nuevo Dia reports

Saint Kitts & Nevis

St. Kitts/Nevis PM, Minister Pay Tribute To Alexander Hamilton In NYC

St. Kitts reaches US$84 million deal with IMF

St. Kitts and Nevis in global reef expedition

Saint Lucia

Fuel prices up in St Lucia

St Lucians urged to be ready for hurricane season

Mary Joseph—A different kind of healing

St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Indian Arrival Day (commentary)

Bank of St Vincent & the Grenadines is launched (Guests at the bank launch, held at the FLOW wine bar, Kingstown, St. Vincent & Grenadines. Courtesy: The Vincentian)ch of the new banking entity. (THE VINCENTIAN)

Caribbean regional seminar on decolonisation concludes in St Vincent

Trinidad & Tobago

Four cases of HIV in Trinidad and Tobago a day

Central Bank sues former CLICO directors

Turks and Caicos

The Critical Frontier: Healthcare

Virgin Islands

BVI youth participate in Duke of Edinburgh Awards Programme

Task force reviewing Virgin Islands requirements for high school graduation

Virgin Islands car dealers report strong inventories

VI hosts first-ever insolvency conference

Monday
Mar282011

Global Humanitarian Community Not Tooled to Handle Emerging Technologies, Volunteers - Report

New technology and volunteers could help victims of earthquakes - like this father and daughter in Pakistan - to receive assistance faster. CREDIT: Michael Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS(HN, March 28, 2011) - If there was one thing that the Haiti earthquake of 2010 demonstrated, it is that traditional humanitarian aid agencies have a difficult time interfacing with the emerging volunteer and tecnical communities.

This was one of the findings of a new report released today by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Foundation and Vodafone Foundation.

The report concludes that increasing dialogue and partnership is required for a more effective response to emergencies.

"Humanitarian organization have amassed deep wisdom and experience from decades of work in the field. Yet new voices are opening the possibility of future interactions with communities affected by the disasters. And new partners are offering faster, more effective means of analyzing an ever-increasing volume and velocity of data.

"The challenge ahead is how to create an effective interface between these resources and create an ecosystem where each actor understands its role."

The report examinines how technology is reshaping the information landscape in which aid groups respond to sudden onset emergencies. The report, Disaster Relief 2.0: The Future of Information Sharing in Humanitarian Emergencies, analyzes how the humanitarian community and the emerging volunteer and technical communities worked together in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and recommends ways to improve coordination between them in future emergencies.

“The challenge is to improve coordination between the structured humanitarian system and the relatively loosely organized volunteer and technical communities. This report illustrates a potential way forward,” said Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  “Without direct collaboration with humanitarian organisations, volunteer and technical communities run the risk of mapping needs without being able to make sure that these needs can be met,” she stressed.

One of the most potentially controverial recommendations is that, during disasters, a team composed of members of the volunteer and technical communities be deployed to the field with a mandate to "deploy best available tools and practices."

Another recommendation calls for a netraul forum to "surface areas of agreement and conflict between international humanitarian systems and the voulnteer and technical communities."

UN and traditional aid agencies are know to maintain closed loops in the opening days and weeks of major disasters - making it difficult for freelancers, volunteers - even the private sector - to become integrated into the emergency response. Some aid workers have even complained about a lack of communication between UN agencies, resulting in duplicated efforts.

Written by a team of researchers led by John Crowley at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, the report is based on interviews with more than 40 technology and humanitarian experts, many of whom responded to the devastating January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.  The report identifies best practice and lessons learned from the Haiti operation; makes recommendations to strengthen coordination between the humanitarian and technology communities; and proposes a draft framework for institutionalizing this collaboration. 

The report was released today at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference. In recent years, the UAE has been positioning itself to become a humanitarian hub.

- HUMNEWS staff

Friday
Mar182011

New Study Estimates Cholera Cases in Haiti Expected to Double Original Predictions (News Brief)

Patients being treated for Cholera in Haiti - photo courtesy of TopNews(HN March 18, 2011) -- Haiti could be facing nearly twice as many cases of cholera this year than what the United Nations originally estimated, say researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Fancisco.

Haiti had been free of cholera for almost a century until last October, when the first cases of disease were reported.

Jason Andrews of Harvard Medical School and colleagues have just published a new study projecting the course of the epidemic over the next year. 

The new study suggests  that nearly 780,000 cholera cases could develop in 2011, with the disease killing about 11,000 people. The UN had estimated 400,000 cases of the diarrheal disease for the country.

The new study uses a more sophisticated mathematical model of the likely course of the outbreak than the U.N. used for its estimates.

Andrews' projection includes assumptions about improving water supplies, vaccination, and the use of antibiotics. He says his model indicates that those interventions can make a real difference in the ultimate impact of the epidemic.

"Certainly, if more aggressive interventions were done, such as vaccinating a larger proportion of the population or a faster rollout of clean water, the impact of interventions could be greater," he says. "But what we found was by doing all three of these interventions, you could avert a substantial burden of cholera and a substantial burden of deaths over the coming year, and that's one of the main messages of my analysis."

So far, 231,070 cholera cases and 4,549 deaths have been reported by the Haitian government.

UCSF medical resident Sanjay Basu, MD, has warned that the “epidemic is not likely to be short-term.”

“It is going to be larger than predicted in terms of sheer numbers and will last far longer than the initial projections,” Basu added.

Public health experts continue to debate the best way to control cholera - vaccination versus antibiotics versus sanitation. But Andrews says his model shows that even modest use of all three can have a significant impact in reducing cholera illness and death.

The model in Andrews' study projects the course of the epidemic for the next year, but it doesn't indicate when Haiti will again be free of cholera.

-HUMNews Staff 

Wednesday
Jan122011

Haiti, a year in pictures (Photo Essay) 

Haiti, a year in pictures - Images by Nadav Neuhaus

"

Tuesday
Jan112011

Displaced in Haiti Drops Below One Million, A Year After Earthquake - IOM

(HN. January 11, 2011) - Close to 1-million people are still living in temporary shelters in Haiti one year after a major earthquake struck.Temporary shelter in Haiti CREDIT: IOM

However, according to the International Organization on Migration (IOM), this represents a "significant drop" in the number of Haitians living in displacement camps and is a welcome sign of progress in recovery efforts.

The UN agency said at a media briefing in Geneva today that still remaining is the massive task of finding durable housing solutions in the most challenging aspect of the humanitarian response.

An IOM country-wide assessment conducted between last November and January 2011 found 810,000 people are still living in informal sites in Port-au-Prince and provinces. This is nearly half the figure last July of an estimated 1.5 million internally displaced Haitians. It is also the first time that the camp population in Haiti has dropped to well below one million.

"While these figures seem a positive development, there is a long way to go. The displacement crisis in Haiti is the most visible and intractable issue. Getting people out of camps and into durable housing is key to long term recovery. However, there are many obstacles to doing this quickly and for Haitians, solutions can't come quickly enough," says IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.

The assessment, part of IOM's work in leading and coordinating camp management efforts in post-earthquake Haiti and regularly carried out, suggests a downward trend in the camp population of about 100,000 people a month. The largest declines are being witnessed in the south of the country in rural or semi-urban areas where housing options are more easily available.

Although an estimated 200,000 people have left the camps for transitional shelters, returned to damaged or rebuilt homes or simply left to live elsewhere, issues over land tenure, rubble, the lack of land preparation for construction as well as environmental concerns and risk mapping, are blocking more significant progress in resolving the displacement crisis.

"We have to acknowledge that life in camps will continue to be a reality for hundreds of thousands of people in the near future. In the meantime, the greatest possible efforts are being made to ensure that the displaced get the continued assistance and protection they need. As more camps continue to close down, this includes helping people without homes or livelihoods into more durable accommodation and into jobs," adds Swing.

Until more permanent houses can be built, transitional shelters which can last up to five years are the best option. IOM is complementing its work to assist the displaced by building 8110 shelters in the most affected areas. To date, 3000 shelters have been completed by IOM.

Although camp management activities have been the least funded of any humanitarian response in Haiti (43%), IOM and partners are regularly monitoring 100 per cent of all spontaneous settlements to track levels of service and to raise awareness on difficulties that the displaced face. For 2011, the camp management cluster of humanitarian agencies has appealed for $93 million.

According to UNICEF, the 12 January earthquake affected 1.5 million children and 63,000 pregnant women. As of 29 December, 3,481 people had died of cholera -- including 210 children below the age of five -- and over 157,000 cases of cholera had been reported, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health.

Also today, Nigel Fisher, the United Nations’ Humanitarian Coordinator, will present a UN report on 11 January in Port-au-Prince, along with the Haitian authorities. And tomorrow, various commemorative ceremonies such as the unveiling of a statue will be held in the capital in memory of the Haitians and the UN staff who had perished in the earthquake.

The UN response is still hobbled by lack of funding. According to UN-OCHA, the $1.5 billion appeal launched in 2010 has been funded to 72 per cent at the end of 2010. The $174 million cholera emergency appeal launched in late 2010, for its part, is only funded to 25 per cent.

- HUM staff, IOM

Thursday
Jan062011

Soaring Food Prices Cause Concern Worldwide (Report)

(PHOTO: Bikyamasr.com)(HN, January 6, 2011) - Noah commandeers his battered taxi through the early morning haze of Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, wondering how he will come up with the money to pay for a trip to the market. Not only has the price of produce shot up in recent months, the price of parking at the market has double in recent weeks.

Noah’s worries were confirmed this week by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which reported that its food price index – a basket tracking the wholesale cost of wheat, corn, rice, oil seeds, dairy products, sugar and meats, has jumped to a record high – even surpassing prices that sparked riots in more than 30 countries – including Haiti, Somalia and Cameroon - in 2007-2008.

While the price of staples such as rice and wheat are below the crises level, sticker shock in markets around the world is being caused by corn, sugar, meat and vegetable oil.

“We are entering a danger territory,” Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the FAO told reporters Wednesday.

(GRAPH: FAO) But some believe the world food supply is more fragile than it ever was, mostly because of extreme weather worldwide last year. Major wheat producers such as Ukraine and Russia have banned exports of wheat in 2010 after extremely poor harvests. And recent severe flooding in Australia’s agricultural heartland of Queensland is already having global repercussions on the world food supply.

This week, young people in the capital of Algiers, Algeria, rioted mostly because of rising food prices – including oil, sugar and flour.

There is also evidence to suggest that in the poorest countries, mothers are being forced by rising prices to cut back on essentials. In Niger - where one in four children die before their fifth birthday, mainly due to malnutrition – record numbers of children are being admitted to the country’s 822 therapeutic feeding centres, according to UNICEF.

Even in developed countries, people in the food business are being forced to cope using innovative means. Cynthia Thomet, co-owner of Atlanta’s Lunacy Black Market, a trendy eatery, said fluctuating prices of produce means much more frequent menu changes.

The sharp increase in commodity prices has prompted food companies like General Mills, Kraft, Sara Lee, Kellogg and ConAgra Foods to drop discounts and start rising prices on many products, said Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

According to the FAO not only is their Food Price Index which tracks 55 commodities in total at a record high, but December 2010 was the sixth month in a row of surging prices - the highest since records began in 1990. The organization says it fears that prices will continue to soar in coming months as supply will fall short of world demand.

(PHOTO: City Farmer)Additionally, in a continuing to struggle world economy rising food prices would see consumers left with less money for discretionary spending on things like eating out and retail items as every day eating becomes more expensive.

Compounding the issue is the growing global population, scheduled to top 7 billion people sometime this spring.  The FAO has previously warned that worldwide food production must rise by 70% by 2050 when the global population will increase to 9.1 billion people, mostly in Asia and Africa.

--- By HUMNEWS’ staff

Monday
Nov292010

Eliminating poverty in Latin America one house at a time (Report) 

(HN, November 29, 2010) -- Today in Haiti there are 800 new homes that have been built since the devastating earthquake 10 months ago. All over Latin America slums are being turned into functioning communities.

The group making this all happen is Un Techo Para Mi Pais (in English ‘A Roof for My Country’)

UTPMP working in Chile (photo: UTPMP) Founded in 1997 by a group of university students in Chile who were appalled by the country’s deplorable slum conditions and were compelled to take an active role in denouncing extreme poverty, Un Techo Para Mi Pais has grown and works in 18 countries today: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

UTPMP invites the society they work in to recognize the injustices of poverty and acknowledge its responsibility to address the lack of opportunities of the most marginalized families in Latin America and the Caribbean.

UTPMP headquartered in Chile coordinates the efforts of local offices, each of which shares basic goals and methods, while adapting the project to the particular challenges of poverty in each country working with local and regional government and community leaders.

The goal is economic empowerment. The “Trojan Horse” as director of UTPMP, Marisol Alarcon calls it, are the pre-fabricated modular homes that are each built in 2 days by 8-10 volunteers.

The modular homes, which are 18m2 (3m x 6m), with wood floors and sides and a zinc roof, are a way into the slums and provide a concrete solution that allows a family to benefit from a dignified and protected living space, which also generates a sense of property and motivation for saving money. UTPMP works with other organizations, different in each country, for clean wanter and proper sanitation in the homes or in the area. Additionally, the construction process builds bonds of trust between families and volunteers. Families participate in the construction of their own homes 100 percent.

UTPMP volunteers in Brazil (photo UTPMP) Volunteers, most of which are university students are from within the country that UTPMP works in. Marisol says “the idea is that the volunteers be from the country where the poverty is around them so that they want to continue to work with these communities – we are not interested in social tourism we are interested in eliminating poverty from within the countries we work in where the people who live in the country have an invested interest in seeing the change they bring about”.

In order to do this the homes are but the first phase leading to the second which is social inclusion through the implementation of training programs led by volunteers in areas such as education, healthcare, economic development, microfinance vocational training legal aid and others. Through this settlers begin to believe in themselves and in the strength of community organization allowing them to overcome their learned helplessness and participate in formal networks and democratic space.

The final phase is for UTPMP to help families, living in slums to develop their own sustainable community, with bonds between neighbors and links to external  networks. The community then works to prioritize needs, elect representatives, and brainstorm to find solutions they need to have for their own needs.

The current construction in Haiti is the first time UTPMP has ever worked in an emergency response environment.

UTPMP in the Dominican Republic (photo: UTPMP) The biggest challenge for UTPMP, when first arriving in Haiti, was getting enough volunteers. It is very difficult to ask people to help build a house for someone else when most don’t have a home themselves says Marisol Alarcon. She adds, “Haitians are used to not having a government work for them and are used to poverty even before the earthquake so getting them to volunteer to help others was a challenge.”

At the beginning, most of the volunteers came from the Dominican Republic and surrounding Central American countries to build homes in Haiti. Recently however, more volunteers are Haitian and they are seeing the difference they are making in their own country helping their neighbors and building a community.

In remembrance of the earthquake one year ago, UTPMP will build 1000 homes from January 7-17. “We will do this with 1000 Haitians and 700 other volunteers from countries all over Latin America and the Caribbean”, Marisol says.

The funding for the homes in Haiti and for all of the 18 countries UTPMP works in are financed from partnerships with businesses, international nonprofit foundations, and individuals. Some of their most important partners are the Inter-American Development Bank/Multilateral Investment Fund, Deloitte, Banco Santander, LAN Airlines, Chevron, Arauco, Dakar, and Young & Rubicam.

-          HUMNEWS Staff

Sunday
Nov282010

Haiti in Crisis: Widespread Irregularities Reported in Presidential Elections (News Brief)

(HN, November 28, 2010) - Claiming widespread fraud and mismanagement, a dozen presidential candidates in the Haiti elections Sunday are calling for annulment of the results.

In what one foreign correspondent described as an extraordinary press conference, a statement by 12 of 18 candidates - including one of the frontrunners, the 70-year-old former first lady Mirlande Manigat - called upon the people of Haiti to mount a peaceful protest against the government and the ruling party's hand-picked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). Thousands of people did protest in Haiti's two largest cities but the CEP said the election would go on.

"We ask the people to mobilize right now to show their opposition to the election," candidate Josette Bijoux said. "We need a new Haiti  without fraud."

The disenfranchised candidates said the fraud was a ploy by "the corrupt government of (Haitian President) Preval" to "perpetuate his power and keep the people hostage to continue their misery."

CBC News reporter Paul Hunter said he had witnessed numerous occasions of electoral fraud.

"It was unbelievable. I have never seen anything like it," said Hunter. "We saw ballot stuffing. We heard voters who were intimidated into voting for a candidate. And we saw thugs, gangs of thugs, going into polling stations, grabbing stacks of ballots, marking them with the candidate of their choice."

Election monitors and representatives of major donor governments and the United States met after the press conference and hinted that things did not go as planned.

"We are all concerned about the possibility of violence because we don't want to see people lose live in a process that should be democratic," said Organization of American States Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin.

The United Nations said that it "and the international community expressed their deep concern at the numerous incidents that marred the elections."

Preliminary results are not expected until Dec. 7.

The chaos comes amid an ongoing cholera outbreak in Haiti that has affected about 70,000 people, and has complicated the international response to January's 7.0-magnitude earthquake. A UN spokesperson said that unrest may complicate efforts to deal with the epidemic; she appealed for calm. "We appeal to the conscience of everybody; everything can be sorted out," she told the BBC.

- HUM staff, agencies

Wednesday
Nov172010

Cholera Cases in Haiti Set to Rise; Fears of Instability (NEWS BRIEF)

(HN, November 17, 2010) - The number of cholera cases in Haiti is expected to rise significantly beyond the latest figure of 11,000 as case monitoring improves and as health officials try to get ahead of an epidemic that is already causing political instability ahead of the November 28 presidential elections.

Cholera cases have now been found in every Haiti province, known as departments, as well as the capital Port-au-Prince. So far in Haiti, more than 11,000 cases have been cited and about 1000 people have died from the disease.

UN officials said as data collection improves, numbers will inevitably rise.

"We expect to have, once that data comes in, a significant increase in recorded cases. So people should not be surprised at that," said Nigel Fisher, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti.Canadian Nigel Fisher leads the UN response in Haiti

Fisher said emphasis is continuing on educating the public about the disease and making sure they have access to oral rehydration salts and tablets to chlorinate their water. Plans are also being made to increase the number of cholera treatment centers across the country. 'It is [cholera] spreading and we have to contain, if not [the] number of cases, we have to try to contain the number of deaths," he said.

Today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said there are "acute deficiencies" in the well-established preventative actions that are essential to controlling the spread of the epidemic. It said activities such as the distribution of clean drinking water, positioning of oral rehydration points in affected communities, waste removal, and safe burial of victims of the epidemic, all remain far below the needs.

UN officials fear the outbreak may be used by some faction to increase instability: on Monday protestors directed their anger at UN peacekeeping forces - claiming UN personnel were responsible for importing cholera into the country.

Separately, health officials have confirmed the first case of cholera in Haiti's neighbour, the Dominican Republic.

In Geneva yesterday Fadéla Chaib of the World Health Organization (WHO) said there was a scientific consensus that cholera will remain an issue in Haiti for several years to come. WHO is preparing for more cases, mostly in remote areas, opening new treatment centers. Several levels of assistance are being offered to cholera-affected people, Chaib said, underscoring that mild cases are being treated at the community level and serious ones referred to cholera treatment centers. Social mobilization and education efforts are now very important, given that many Haitians were very scared and know little about cholera. 

Last week, the UN launched a new $163.8 million appeal for Haiti. Elisabeth Byrs of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it is intended for the purchase water purification tablets and rehydration salts, to increase the number of medical staff and to train medical personnel.

Wednesday
Nov172010

HEADLINES - November 17, 2010 - (THE CARIBBEAN) 

(PHOTO: The Vincentian, Government leaders meet to talk about damage to agriculture after Hurricane Tomas) ANGUILLA

Chief Minister and Governor off to the OTCC in London

Anguilla National Council of Women asserts support for Gender Affairs Unit in Anguilla

Better Future for Children Via Football

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA

Remembrance Day Celebrated in Antigua and Barbuda

Cruise passengers wary of robberies, but undaunted

Vigilance and education are keys to prevention, cholera, Dengue (OPINION)

ARUBA

Francis Groeneveldt recognized as a role model for community service

THE BAHAMAS

Bahamas Police Charge man for rape of a Catholic Nun and Stealing from a Primary School

Runway Report: Islands of the World Fashion Week

Accounting sector getting familiar with Chinese practices

BARBADOS

Caribbean teens win film awards

Government working to have a fully functioning civil aviation system

CAYMAN ISLANDS

Cayman Airways fined $50,000 after complaints from disabled passengers

Garbage fees foul up

What is the future of Cayman?

DOMINICA

Basic telecommunications services for remote areas

Dominica volleyball players head to Antigua for international beach volleyball qualifier

GRENADA

Help for affected islands

(PHOTO: Magnum, People infected with cholera being treated by MSF on the grounds of St. Nicholas Hospital in Saint Marc.)HAITI

Haiti cholera outbreak: timeline

Haiti Cholera outbreak may reach 200,000 says Unicef

Michaelle Jean says world will not abandon Haiti

JAMAICA

High brain drain bolsters strong remittances to Jamaica

PUERTO RICO

Puerto Rico solid in Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

Fortuño attending Republican governors meeting

SAINT KITTS & NEVIS

Federation promoted at new look St. Kitts and Nevis stand at World Travel Market 2010

Despite achievements, PANCAP face challenges on HIVAIDS

SAINT LUCIA

Mad rush for water

Ministry of health says treat water before domestic use

Financial Regulators: No License Granted for Internet-based Banking

ST MAARTEN

Civil servants file 110 appeals against job offers from Govt.

SAINT VINCENT & THE GRENADINES

OECS Secretariat and PAHO to Help Health Sectors Affected By Hurricane Tomas

Picking up after Tomas

Teachers Union Humanitarian Side

(PHOTO: Virgin Islands Daily, Virgin Islands Parliament Closed for Asbestos) TURKS & CAICOS

Digicel launches $30,000 community facelift project

Hundreds Leaving Turks and Caicos (INVESTIGATION)  

VIRGIN ISLANDS

V.I. Legislature shuttered for asbestos removal

Friday
Nov122010

Helping Haiti: Stop the Handouts (Perspective) 

By Danielle Grace Warren
The opinions expressed are her own.

The people of Haiti have a name for the earthquake that rocked their country: Goudougoudou, an onomatopoetic creole nickname invented for the earthquake meant to emulate the sound of the earth rumbling, the buildings falling. There are numbers for it, too: 230,000 deaths, 59 aftershocks and 1.5 million people who remain displaced nearly a year later.

While over a billion dollars in US aid was promised was for rebuilding Haiti is tied up in the umbilicus of Washington, Port au Prince residents are settling between piles of debris — 98% of which still has not been removed. Haitians pick through the rubble for building scraps to reinforce torn tarpaulin.

Many who were displaced by the disaster and came to the Haitian capital for aid have tried to re-settle in the small towns and villages of their birth. But they have been forced to return to the capital yet again since it is still where most of the food and aid in the country can be found.

Before the earthquake happened there were already 3.5 million people living in Port au Prince — nearly 50% of the total country population. This number has doubled in recent years as people have flooded in from severely deforested and degraded agrarian areas in the hope of finding a job. Yet the vast majority of Port au Prince residents are unemployed or underemployed. Eighty percent of city dwellers live below the poverty line in slum and squatter settlements with unstable housing and poor sanitation.

If living in poverty in Port au Prince is the best thing going for Haitians because it means hope for the possibility of work then the international community’s focus on the area is sure to keep the majority of the people there in a perpetual state of waiting.

It is this waiting, despite their desperate circumstances, that is turning the Haitian people into beggars. Begging, an activity that has always been rare in Haiti, despite historical poverty, is just making the nation even more of a client-state and ever more dependent on foreign aid.

(photo courtesy of: latinamericanstudies.org) Much has been discussed about rebuilding a better Haiti. In rethinking our strategy for measuring aid, President Obama urged that, rather than just managing poverty, “we have to offer people a path out of poverty. We need to help countries help themselves, not offer aid that provides short-term relief without reforming societies. That’s not development; that’s dependence … And it’s a cycle we need to break.”

As part of the global 2015 Millennium Development Goals, the UN identified the following targets: to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, achieve decent work for all, integrate principles of sustainable development, and significantly improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.

Whatever the amount of aid that arrives in Haiti in the near term, it will eventually run out. In order to provide much needed jobs and food, we need to be investing in sustainable agricultural education and development projects in partnership with leadership at all levels, especially local leadership in impoverished rural areas, that take both people and the environment into account like sustainable women’s farming cooperatives and mangrove reforestation initiatives in partnership with local fishers.

If environmental protection is ignored, the watersheds and coastal lowlands will be increasingly subject to erosion, inundation, and destruction. In turn, this will increase the likelihood of future disasters such as flash-floods.

If we do not decentralize aid, if we do not channel it to other distressed areas of the country as well, we will be marginalizing all Haitian people and ensuring that Port au Prince will become a ghetto once again.

This is not to ignore the fact that jobs can and should be created in the city itself nor that Port au Prince is home to a large population of people who have no desire to leave — and nor should they have to. But shouldn’t they have a choice?

Danielle Grace Warren is the president of the One Village Planet-Women’s Development Initiative and the treasurer of One Village Planet/Village Planète (Haiti), which has implemented the only successful mangrove coastal forestation project in Haiti.

This piece was first published 11/11/2010 in "The Great Debate", Reuters.