Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti: Recommendations and Background

TransAfrica is an advocacy group that has made Haiti a major focus of its work for many years. I got to know and trust TransAfrica back during my younger days as an activist in the anti-Apartheid movement, in which TransAfrica played an important role.

Following are some excerpts from their website (to read everything in full please click here):
TransAfrica Forum recommends the following:
1. SUSPEND HAITIAN DEPORTATIONS AND GRANT TPS. Since 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....
2. COORDINATED INTERNATIONAL RELIEF ASSISTANCE. The 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....
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 structure.
4. CHARITABLE DONATIONS. Many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private voluntary organizations (PVOs) have long-established development projects on the ground....
a. Partners in Health. Donate online at: www.pih.org/inforesources/news/Haiti_Earthquake.html or send your contribution to Partners In Health, P.O. Box 845578, Boston, MA 02284-5578
b. Doctors Without Borders. Donate online at www.doctorswithoutborders.org, 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 10001-5004.

BACKGROUND

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, 202-223-1960, www.transafricaforum.org.


1 comment:

Mary said...

A really good outfit is Direct Relief International, based in Santa Barbara. 99% of all donations go to the field: THERE IS NO OVERHEAD TAKEN. DRI is run by volunteers. They get donated medical goods, flights, etc. AND they were on the ground in Haiti prior to the earthquake. Check it out!

http://www.directrelief.org/