Recent Feature Articles

By Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star, Nov. 22, 2017

With another influx of Haitian refugees from the U.S. in sight, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is warning that Canada is not a viable option for them — and data released Wednesday by Ottawa backs him up on that.

The federal government has been on high alert since the Trump administration announced this week it will end its temporary residency permit program that has allowed 60,000 Haitians to stay in the United States. Haitian migrants have until July 2019 to return to their country.

On Wednesday, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada released data on the outcomes of the 1,314 asylum decisions made involving those who crossed unguarded points along the border with the United States from February to October. Of those, 941 were accepted and 373 rejected. Some other 258 claims were either abandoned or withdrawn. Almost 12,900 of the 14,470 refugee claims are still pending.

Haitians, who account for 6,304 or 44 per cent of those claims, were among those with the lowest acceptance rate, at 17 per cent. Only 29 of the 168 Haitian border-crossers were granted asylum after a hearing as of Oct. 31.

On Wednesday, Hussen cited the Haitians’ acceptance rate as 10 per cent, using the number of cases “finalized” as the base which included the 130 additional claims that were either abandoned or withdrawn from the system, instead of just the total positive and negative decisions…

By Cora Cervantes, Al Jazeera, Nov. 21, 2017

The Haitian community in the US is "shocked" and "speechless" after President Donald Trump's administration announced that it was ending its humanitarian protection for Haiti.

The move, announced on Monday, gives nearly 60,000 Haitians, who hold Temporary Protected Status (TPS), 18 months to return to Haiti or find other ways to legalise their status in the US.

"I have 18 months to get my life together ... to try to navigate my life as an undocumented immigrant," Lys Isma, a 22-year-old Haitian living in Miami, Florida told Al Jazeera.

Isma is one of about 55,000 Haitians who has received TPS since Haiti was given the humanitarian protections after an earthquake in 2010 ravaged the country, killing 316,000 and displacing more than 1.5 million.

"I have no memories of Haiti," said Isma, who first arrived in the US when she was nine months.

"A lot of my life is going to be taken away," she said. "I am overwhelmed."

Isma said her future in the US is now unclear after the Department of Homeland Security announced that it was terminating TPS for Haiti.

The department said in a memo late on Monday that it was ending the humanitarian protection for the country after "a review of…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, Nov. 15, 2017

This past week, a second Senate investigative commission released a 656-page report on government corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement in spending close to $2 billion over eight years from the PetroCaribe fund, which is filled by deferred payments for Venezuelan petroleum.

  1. In August 2016, a first Haitian Senate commission, headed by the corrupt Sen. Youri Latortue, produced an initial report which was derided as incomplete, misleading, and duplicitous.

So a second Senate commission headed by Sen. Evallière Beauplan was formed. Its four other members were Senators Nenel Cassy, Antonio Cheramy (also known as “Don Kato”), Richard Lenine Hervé Fourcand, and Onondieu Louis.

Sen. Beauplan said that there was “more work to do” in investigating the PetroCaribe fund, but the report was released now due to the public’s impatience.

The PetroCaribe agreement was signed between Haiti and Venezuela in 2007 despite fierce U.S. sabotage attempts. Under the Petrocaribe accord, Venezuela provides Haiti with all the oil it needs, while Haiti pays for only 60% up front. The remaining 40% of gas revenues goes into the Petrocaribe fund, which is to be paid over 25 years at 1% interest. The fund was aimed at providing capital for Haiti to invest in development projects to “aid the Haitian people.”

One of the report’s most shocking revelations: Haiti owed cash-strapped Venezuela about one year of back payments as of September 2016. It may well owe more now, over one year later.

Haiti Liberté has posted a link to the…

By Edwidge Dandicat, The New Yorker, Oct. 19, 2017

The year the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (minustah) came to the country was a deadly one for my family. In February of 2004, Haiti’s first democratically elected President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was forced out of office for a second time, having been reinstated, and then reëlected, after a 1991 military coup. This time, Aristide was replaced by, among others, Gérard Latortue, a former United Nations official, who called those who took up arms against Aristide “freedom fighters.” (Their leader, Guy Philippe, is serving a nine-year sentence in a U.S. prison after pleading guilty to receiving multimillion-dollar bribes from cocaine traffickers.)

That April, claiming that the situation in Haiti constituted “a threat to international peace and security in the region,” the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1542, establishing the Brazil-led minustah. The mission, which officially began in June, 2004, lasted thirteen years and five months, and cost more than seven billion dollars, before officially ending this past Sunday.

Part of minustah’s mandate was to assist the transitional government in insuring “a secure and stable environment.” This is where my loved ones and others came into the mission’s crosshairs.

I spent the first twelve years of my life in an impoverished neighborhood in Port-au-Prince called Bel Air, where many Aristide supporters live. My eighty-one-year-old uncle, a minister, had called this neighborhood home since the nineteen-fifties, and was there on September 30, 2004, when protests began on the thirteenth anniversary of the first coup d’état…

By Milo Milfort, Haiti Liberté, Nov, 1, 2017

MINUSTAH is gone. It has been replaced by MINUJUSTH. Its record is very controversial. "Peace-keepers" have left many families devastated. Over 13 years, some “peacekeepers” have raped and taken advantage of people in precarious situations, sometimes even children. For the victims, they can only resort to lawsuits or personal appeals; Haitian authorities have undertaken no prosecutions. For the victims, there remains only a devastated life and the unanswered questions of children born from forced or forbidden relations with MINUSTAH troops.

 

"It destroyed me,” said Angela Jean Philippe, 30. “I even wrote a suicide letter to my parents. But, I changed my mind after the advice of a friend who took me in after I was forced to leave my family’s home due to the pressure of my sister, who insulted me day and night . I love children, but I did not want to have one in this [painful] situation."

In tears, she explains that she was raped by a Nigerian soldier of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) one day when she went to a mission base at the request of a friend. "He did not use his firearm,” said Angela. “He forced me. I did not want it. I [hid] it from my family because they did not know I was going out [that night]. For them, I was in church."

Her daughter comes to her during her interview for this article. Immediately, Angela asks her to leave for fear that she will hear the sad story that has upended her life.

"I cried almost every day," she says. “I had to tell my family after they discovered my pregnancy. They were not happy because I had hidden it from them. I began to resign myself to my fate when the child was two years old."

This aggression dates back to 2009. She was 22 years old and believes that she was immature. Years later, it was an empty and exhausted…

By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service, Oct. 31, 2017

A UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution adopted on 31 October 2000, underlying the role of women in peacekeeping, has long been described as both historic and unprecedented.

But 17 years later, there are widespread expressions of disappointment over the mostly non- implementation of the resolution known by its symbol UNSCR 1325.

Mavic Cabrera Balleza, Chief Executive Officer/International Coordinator, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, (GNWP) told IPS that despite all the ballyhoo following the resolution, the percentage of women in peacekeeping “is incredibly low”.

In 1993, women made up 1% of deployed uniformed personnel. As of August 2017, women constituted only 3.7 % of military personnel; and 9.4 % of police personnel.

“This is beyond shocking. If we are going to use this as an indicator to assess the achievements of UNSCR 1325, we are failing miserably,” she declared.

Under-Secretary-General Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, told the Security Council last week although women’s absence from peace tables is no longer easily brushed off as normal, it is still commonplace.

“Every year, we track women’s overall participation in peace processes that are led by the UN. We track the inclusion of gender expertise and gender-sensitive provisions in peace agreements, and the requirement to consult with women’s civil society organizations. In all of these indicators, we performed slightly worse than a year ago.”

At the Myanmar Union Peace Conference in 2016—before the current crisis—there were seven women and 68 men among the delegates. And recent peace talks on the Central African Republic hosted by the Community of Sant’Egidio did not include a single woman.

Six years into the Syrian civil war—and in spite of significant…

By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, Oct. 25, 2017

Massive, raucous demonstrations, sometime several times a week, have rocked Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and other provincial cities over the past two months and show no sign of subsiding, despite a lack of clear or unified leadership.

Police repression of the demonstrators has grown as their calls have morphed from denouncing a tax-laden, fee-hiking, austerity budget proposed in early September to demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, who came to power in February following controversial, anemic elections in October 2016.

In many ways the demonstrations resemble the Caracazo uprising that erupted in Venezuela in February 1989 after President Carlos Andrés Pérez’s government implemented a package (dubbed in Venezuela “ paquete”) of neoliberal economic reforms recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The measures, featuring privatizations, public employee layoffs, and tariff reductions, included slashing gas subsidies which resulted in a 30% hike in transportation costs overnight. The Caracazo revolt led to the 1992 coup d’état attempt and subsequent 1998 election of Hugo Chavez.

Similarly, Jovenel Moïse’s Washington-influenced budget proposes a host of taxes and fees on everything from drivers licenses, vehicle registrations, and passports to a 10,000 gourdes ($157US) annual tax on expatriate Haitians.

The starting gun for the current uprising was fired on Sep. 5 when Sen. Antonio Cheramy – previously a popular singer known as “Don Kato” – walked up to the podium where Southeast Sen. Ricard Pierre was reading the draft budget to the Senate, grabbed the document as Pierre was in mid-sentence, and began to theatrically tear it up, saying “this is over” (se fini) with every rip.

As the session degenerated into shoving and shouting…

 By Johnny Harris & Tian Wang, Vox Borders, Oct. 17, 2017

The island of Hispaniola is home to two very different countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Infant mortality rates in Haiti are 2.5 times higher, and Haitians are almost 10 times poorer per capita than Dominicans.

I visited the island to investigate how these differences play out in the lives of its residents. As I traveled through Haiti and the Dominican Republic, I saw the stark disparities that are deeply rooted in history, all the way back to their colonial origins. The stage was set hundreds of years ago, but the story continues today.

Watch the video documentary

 

Posted Oct. 17, 2017

By Al Jazeera, Oct. 6, 2017

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti lowered its blue flag on Thursday, 13 years after it began.

While the mission has been credited with helping bring stability to the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, it has also been mired in controversy.

The mission is blamed for bringing cholera to the country, and at least 134 of its peacekeepers have been involved in sexual abuse scandals. 

As the last of the thousands of peacekeepers who were in the country leave, Al Jazeera answers some of the key questions about why the blue helmets were there and what they are leaving behind.  

 

What will be their legacy?


The presence of UN troops in Haiti has been a point of controversy on the island since the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) mission first began in 2004. 

UN officials have praised the mission for helping to re-establish law-and-order in the country marred by political unrest and bolster Haiti's democratic institutions. MINUSTAH has also helped recruit and train a new civilian police force, something that was virtually nonexistent before their arrival. 

However, critics argue the mission's forces have done more harm than good, pointing to the peacekeepers' involvement in the country's 2010 cholera outbreak and sex abuse scandals as evidence.

 

Cholera outbreak

The source of the waterborne disease, which killed more than 9,000 people, was traced to a UN base.

Al Jazeera's Fault Lines investigated the outbreak in 2010. The film - Haiti in a Time of Cholera - helped further expose the source of the disease on the island, and put additional pressure on the UN to investigate the allegations, and eventually admit its role in the outbreak.

In August 2016, the…

By Rocco Pallin, foodtank, October, 2017

Hurricane Irma brought severe damage to the Caribbean in early September, destroying buildings, homes, roads, and threatening livelihoods before moving north towards the Florida Keys. The Category 5 storm left 17,000 struggling for adequate shelter and 70 to 90 percent of infrastructure destroyed on some islands. The storm also contaminated drinking water sources and destroyed food infrastructures and agricultural production.

Particularly affected were eastern Caribbean islands—Anguilla, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, St. Martin, St. Barts, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Regions previously affected by recent climate crises, like Hurricane Matthew in 2016, might be facing even longer roads to recovery.                                                                                                               

The Food Security Cluster (FSC)—a collaborative group for strategic food humanitarian response including international NGOs, United Nations organizations, Governments, and the Red Cross and Red Crescent—is continually assessing the Irma response and recovery priorities. Water and sanitation kits as well as canned food and seeds and agricultural goods were among FCS’s key priorities early in the response. FSC has since estimated in its Regional Response Plan that among all sectors food security require the third largest amount of funding to December: nearly US$2.4 million.

According to FSC and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency…