In Haiti, foreign workers live in luxury while people suffer

The Friday Haiti Relief Coalition has delivered 12,000 gallons of water to Leogane, Haiti. After speaking with the people and Mayor Alexis Santos, it became startlingly clear that thousands of families had lost their homes, and with them, their entire livelihood. “We saw the many sprawling tent and tarp cities and the dangerous fragility in which thousands of our brothers and sisters were living,” stated Gregory Perry of the Haiti Relief Coalition. “Of the tent cities we saw, only Comunidad Simon Bolivar (the model tent city built by Venezuelan army engineers) would withstand a hurricane or heavy rain. Housing WAS and IS the issue. Accordingly, upon returning to Brooklyn we initiated a fundraising campaign to raise $30,000 for materials for 10 houses. We are currently well on the way to our goal, with $20,000 raised, but the situation in Haiti is everyday more desperate.”

$30,000 is small change compared to the $500 million plus that the American Red Cross received from the pockets of good-willed American people. With these riches, the ARC has managed to build absolutely no temporary or permanent housing in the 10 months following the earthquake. According to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee: Haiti Shelter Cluster, as of November 09, 2010 the ARC, in conjunction with ACTED, HAVEN and Habitat for Humanity, has plans to build 4,200 temporary shelters but has yet to produce a single one.

“No amount of excuses, however complicated and bureaucratic can mask this brand of blatant, criminal negligence. With resources come responsibility and the inaction of the ARC and other foreign NGOs is tantamount to genocide,” Perry continued. Overall, foreign NGOs have plans to build a total of 124,889 temporary shelters in the country but have currently reached a mere 15% of this goal. Meanwhile, over 1 million Haitians still live in precarious tent and tarp cities and now face the threat of cholera. The outlook for permanent shelter is even more bleak, with only 262 houses built out of a total of 4,931 planned. In Leogane, the epicenter of the earthquake, only 5,449 temporary shelters have been built out of a total of 27,415 planned, a meager 19%.

Coalition member Valerie Haynes states, “the Haitian people would be better off receiving foreign “aid” as direct budgetary support, instead of indirectly through the inflated salaries of thousands of foreign NGO workers. In addition to their lack of progress on the housing crisis, the presence of thousands of aid workers has driven up the rent prices of the scarce housing that survived the earthquake. The reality is that while foreign nationals have utilized a lot of resources to do very little, they live in relative luxury while making housing prices unaffordable for working class Haitians. Some organizations, such as Samaritan’s Purse in Leogane, have even gone so far as to occupy public beach front property and create their own personal resorts, patrolled by private mercenaries.” Haynes concludes, “we must support our Haitian brothers and sisters in this time of dire need through direct budgetary and material support. What Haitians need is raw materials for housing, heavy machinery to remove rubble, and capital, not the leech of welfare colonialism that continues to suck their country dry.”

For further information on the Friday Haiti Relief Coalition or to donate, contact (718) 398-1766. The Coalition meets every Friday

Haiti Crisis: A State of Emergency

One Year After The Earthquake

City Wide Symposium

Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 6:30 PM

Bethany Baptist Church

460 Marcus Garvey Blvd, Brooklyn, NY

One year after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the recovery effort remains stagnant. The Red Cross has collected over $500 million in the US alone; nations pledged over $10 billion at the United Nations Donor Conference; and the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund has collected $52 million in donations; yet over 1.3 million Haitian people remain in ramshackle tent cities.

Cholera, which had not been seen in Haiti for over 50 years, is rapidly spreading with hundreds dead and thousands sick. Huge mountains of rubble have not been removed, and the rebuilding of roads, schools, and hospitals is at a snails’ pace. Where is the money going?

The Friday Haiti Relief Coalition will host a City-Wide Symposium “Haiti Crisis: A State of Emergency” on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 6:30 PM. The forum will be held at Bethany Baptist Church, 460 Marcus Garvey Blvd (between MacDonough & Decatur Streets), Brooklyn NY.

Invited Speakers include CARICOM (Caribbean Community) representative Andrea Wilson, Dr. David A. Hampton Paster of Bethany Baptist Church, Viola Plummer of the December 12th Movement International Secretariat, Marie Yoleine Gateau of the NEGES Foundation, Patricia Janvier of Ayiti Cherie Healing Project & Ayiti Resurrect, Amadi Ajamu and Valerie Haynes of the Friday Haiti Relief Coalition. Video footage of the Coalition on the ground in Haiti will be shown. An open discussion on the tasks ahead will ensue.

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