Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Help Haiti

TransAfrica has 4 Immediate Recommendations of Aid Recovery


TransAfrica Forum

January 13, 2009


  "The country does not have the infrastructure or

  resources to deal with a crisis of this magnitude,

  the  U.S. and the international community must

  provide  immediate medical, humanitarian, search and

  rescue, and additional supports as requested by the

  government  of Haiti,"


      -- Nicole Lee, President of TransAfrica Forum.


January 12, 2009 the island nation of Haiti, was hit

with a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, its most severe in

decades.  The epicenter of the quake was approximately

10 miles south of Port-au-Prince, the country's capital

and home to almost 2 million people.  The city,

including communications and transport infrastructure,

is said to have suffered "massive damage."  According

to Associated Press, the capital is largely destroyed,

with widespread loss of life predicted.  "The people of

Haiti are only just beginning to recover from a decade

of economic, environmental, and political shocks.  The

global recession, increases in international food

prices, and natural disasters, including four

hurricanes in 2008, have undermined the country's

already weak infrastructure and increased poverty in a

country already the poorest in the western hemisphere,"

according to Nicole Lee, President of TransAfrica

Forum.  "The country does not have the infrastructure

or resources to deal with a crisis of this magnitude,

the U.S. and the international community must provide

immediate medical, humanitarian, search and rescue, and

additional supports as requested by the government of

Haiti," Lee continued.


According to Haitian Ambassador to the United States,

Raymond Joseph, "the quake has crippled the country."

Aid agencies, including the U.S. Agency for

International Development, are meeting to organize a

response.  An emergency message from the

internationally respected health organization Partners

in Health gives an indication of the level of crisis:

"Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS.

SOS... Temporary field hospital by us at UNDP needs

supplies, pain meds, and bandages. Please help us."


TransAfrica Forum recommends the following:



January 2009 U.S. immigration judges have issued

deportation orders to over 30,000 undocumented

Haitians.  The Department of Homeland Security should

immediately halt the arrests of these deportees and

grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians in

the United States and conduct a full review of its

policy towards Haiti. Temporary protected status (TPS)

is granted by the United States (Homeland Security

Department) to eligible nationals of countries that

cannot safely return to their homelands because of

armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other

extraordinary and temporary conditions. Haiti clearly

fits this description.



U.S. government and international aid agencies are

already beginning to mobilize immediate relief.  We

urge the administration to continue its efforts, in

full coordination with international agencies and

multilateral agencies in order to ensure efficient

relief efforts.  The first impulse of individuals and

governments in the face of a crisis of this level is to

give, a reflection of the generous nature of the human

spirit, which is to be admired.  Joint planning,

coordination, and full use of resources already

available within the region will ensure the efficiency

efficacy of relief efforts.


3. FULL RESOURCE MOBILIZATION.  Within the context of

international efforts, and as requested by the Haitian

government, we encourage the Obama Administration to

fully mobilize its resources to support urgent needed

search and rescue of the wounded and trapped,

including, again if requested by the Haitian

government, mobilization of the Southern Command



4.  CHARITABLE DONATIONS.  Many non-governmental

organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary

organizations (PVOs) have long-established development

projects on the ground.  Those organizations are best

placed to assist with the country's immediate needs; we

encourage supporters to contribute to two highly

effective organizations that are already providing

emergency services:


a. Partners in Health.  Donate online at: or

send your contribution to Partners In Health, P.O. Box

845578, Boston, MA 02284-5578


b. Doctors Without Borders.  Donate online, or toll-free at

1-888-392-0392. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  USA

Headquarters 333 7th Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY





Haiti is the least-developed country in the Americas.

The "dumping" of cheap products into its economy has

further destabilized the nation and underscored the

need to overhaul Haiti's agriculture policies in tandem

with international trade policy.  Approximately 80

percent of Haiti's population lives in poverty and over

half struggle to survive on less than $1 a day.

Remittances that Haitians outside the country send home

account for over a quarter of gross domestic product

(GDP), there is chronic unemployment and the informal

economy is steadily growing.


Foreign aid continues to dominate Haiti's budget (30-40

percent) and its debt stands at $1.3 billion - 40

percent of which was incurred by the Duvalier

dictatorships by stealing or misspending most of the

money between 1957 and 1986.  While loss of civilian

life and public security due to armed confrontations

continue to be problems, people are increasingly dying

as a result of starvation and poverty. The prices of

products needed to fulfill basic needs have risen by

more than 50 percent since 2007 and most families are

forced to choose between buying food and sending their

children to school.  Unfortunately, the current

conditions in the country show no signs of notable

improvement and disproportionately impact vulnerable

groups, such as women and children, human rights

defenders and journalists. Through it all, Haitians

continue to identify creative ways to survive and to

help others along the way. This tradition of "youn ede

lòt," or "one helping the other" remains strong. One

example of this is the existence of solidarity lending

groups, established by members to cover financial

obligations, in which one person receives a rotating

pool of money each pay period.


TransAfrica Forum is the leading U.S. advocacy

organization for Africa and the African Diaspora in

U.S. foreign policy. TransAfrica Forum helped lead the

world protest against apartheid in South Africa and

today works for human and economic justice for African

people on the continent of Africa, in Latin America and

in the Caribbean. Contact us: TransAfrica Forum, 1629 K


Street, N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C., 2006,





Helping Haiti


Peter Rothberg

The Nation

January 13, 2010


The worst earthquake in 200 years struck Haiti

yesterday, causing catastrophic destruction in the

hemisphere's poorest country. The quake struck near the

capital of Port-au-Prince, the most densely populated

part of Haiti, and thousands are feared dead. Most

telephone communications throughout the country have

also been destroyed complicating relief work.


The most urgent needs appear to be bandages,

antibiotics, other basic medical supplies, and water

tablets to prevent cholera outbreaks. The need for food

and shelter is also growing especially given that these

needs are severe in impoverished Haiti in the best of times.


There are numerous ways to help groups already on the

ground. One of the best, Partners In Health

(, has been operating in

the country since 1987, originally to deliver health

care to the residents of Haiti's mountainous Central

Plateau region. PiH now also operates clinics in Port

au Prince and other major Haitian cities. With

hospitals and a highly trained medical staff in place,

Partners In Health is already mobilizing resources and

preparing plans to bring medical assistance and

supplies to areas that have been hardest hit. Donations

to help earthquake relief efforts will be quickly

routed to the disaster.


The women's group MADRE (

has also worked in Haiti for many years, supporting

community-based organizations, and has activated an

emergency response through its partner organization,

Zanmi Lasante Clinic. The doctors, nurses and community

health workers there are working to bring medical

assistance and supplies to areas that have been hardest

hit. MADRE's partners are expert at reaching those in

crisis and stretching resources to meet the myriad

needs facing Haitian women and families.


Teams from the group Doctors Without Borders

( were already working on medical projects in Haiti and have been treating victims of the quake since yesterday.

Gifts to to the group's new Haiti Earthquake Response

( will support emergency medical care for the men, women,

and children affected by the earthquake in Haiti.


Despite heavy damages to its own offices in Port-au-

Prince, the UN relief organization UNICEF is

coordinating donations of things like blankets,

toothpaste, canned food and other basic staples. Call

1-800-4UNICEF or go to for information.


And while all this relief work is saving lives, it's

also critical to implore the Obama Administration to

immediately authorize temporary protected status for

Haitian immigrants. Tell the White House this is






The State Department has set up an info line for people

to call. That number is 1-888-407-4747. You can also

direct people to the US Embassy website in Port- Au-

Prince for information:


"The State Department Operations Center has set up the

following number for Americans seeking information

about family members in Haiti:  1-888-407-4747 (due to

heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording).

Our embassy is still in the early stages of contacting

American Citizens through our Warden Network.

Communications are very difficult within Haiti at this time."


For people wanting to assist in Haiti the State

Department has issued this statement:


 Anyone wishing to donate or provide assistance in

 Haiti following the devastating earthquake that struck

 near Port au Prince on Jan 12, 2010, is asked to

 contact the Center for International Disaster

 Information.  The Center, operated under a grant from

 the United States Agency for International

 Development's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance

 and initial support from IBM, has become a valuable

 resource to the public, as well as US government

 agencies, foreign embassies and international

 corporations. CIDI has established a dedicated page to

 coordinate Haiti support at:



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