Haiti: Socio-Political Crisis OCHA Situation Report No. 13

Situation Report
Originally published
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2004/0096
OCHA Situation Report No. 13
Haiti - Socio-Political Crisis
21 June 2004

Environment - global overview:

1. Haiti is exposed to a wide spectrum of natural disasters such as drought, floods, cyclones, earthquakes and landslides. According to official statistics, from 1900 to 2003, 49 climatic catastrophes have ravaged Haiti (16 cyclones, 26 major floods and 7 droughts.). And only for the coming season, CDERA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency) Coordinating Unit in Barbados has issued a strong call for Caribbean countries to be well prepared for the coming Hurricane Season, as 14 storms, eight of which could become hurricanes, is predicted.

2. Even if the Caribbean countries are exposed to the same threats, the destruction and loss of life is not comparable to Haiti: The physical, social and economic conditions create a vicious circle that makes Haiti one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. Nevertheless Haiti lacks an early warning system, which the recent floods in West and South East Department clearly demonstrate. On top of this, dangerous waste from toxically products threatens the environment.

3. The National Action Plan for Environment (PAE) identifies several major reasons behind the environmental disasters in Haiti: High pressure on natural resources, the agricultural crisis of the small-scale farming, the anarchic urbanization, the absence of energy and resource regulations and the deficiency of official institutions and legal frameworks. Due to shortage of fertile land, families are cultivating on dangerous slopes. The environmental situation has worsened during the last years to the point of being irreversible in some areas. In 1997 a national risk and disaster body, The Department of Civil Protection, was created; and with the support of UNDP, a process of institutional reform has started leading to the elaboration of a National Plan for disaster risk management.


4. The environmental situation in Haiti is partly linked to the pattern of energy consumption. According to the Environmental Theme Group of the Interim Cooperation Framework, the energy need in Haiti was equivalent to 2088 tons of petrol in 2001. 78 % of the need is supported by local sources. Wood is the most important source of energy - 72 % - followed by sugar cane and hydroelectric energy. The hydroelectric barrage of Péligre is supposed to deliver 48 MW (99% of the national total), but has lost around 70 % of its capacity.

5. The energy deficit of about 22% is met by imported petrol. Even if the quantity - 12, 500 barrels per day - is limited, the importation cost of petrol is some USD 152 million, which constitutes 54 % of the total exportation cost (2002). Haiti's dependence of imported energy has a disastrous impact on the national budget.

6. The transport and industrial sector demands 13% of the total consumption (2002), however the domestic sector is the main consumer of energy, mainly for cooking, transport and lightening. 80 % of the energy need is met by charcoal, which has a serious impact on deforestation. In 1956, 20 % of the Haitian surface was covered by forest; today it is only 1 %. In the Dominican Republic the percentage is around 19. Estimations indicate that about 50 million trees are cut every year in Haiti.

7. One of Haiti's few remaining forest, Foret de Pins, in the south, has less than 34,000 acres of trees left. A decade ago it had 100,000 acres. The last resources of mangrove - about 23,000 Ha - are cut to make charcoal. And, as an example, in the flood-ravaged Mapou, the villagers have chopped down hardwoods like mahogany and cherry. Deforestation, erosion and the sedimentation of the rivers and the costal zones represent a fundamental national threat.

8. The principal factors of disaster vulnerability is linked to poverty and environmental degradation.

Needs and recommendations:

  • Land tenure and property right issues

  • Renewable energy

  • Lower pressure on forest resources

  • Land degradation needs to be addressed:

    - Loss of fertility

    - Sedimentation of rivers and costal areas

    - Production losses

    - Natural disasters

    - Loss of biodiversity

  • Risk management and crisis prevention linked to natural hazards & pollution from toxic waste

  • Local capacities to address natural resource management issues

  • Sensitization on the catastrophic situation of the environment in Haiti

  • Develop mechanism to enforce existing environmental legislation and strengthen current legislation.

  • Advocacy for environmental issues:

    - More funds for environmental problems

    - More willingness and environmental awareness both from governments, donor and humanitarian community


Environmental Projects:

Lutheran World Federation

- Working within national networks, grass root organizations, local NGOs to save Foret des Pins.
- Protection through rational forest management.
- Soil conservation in Thiotte. Production of natural coffee fertilizer. Similar plans in Macaya, Grand Anse

Grand Anse
U.S. Agencies for International Development - Agroforest II
- Plantation of some 60 million trees in the past two decades.
Foundation Haitienne de l'Environnement - Mobilization of students on environment issues.
- Solar energy in fishing villages
- Substitution of wood by other kind of combustible and fuel in bakeries and other entreprises
West et North

West et Nippes
West, Sud West and Nippes.

Floods: Lessons learnt - Fonds-Verrettes and Mapou

9. The crisis exposed several constraints and limitations on the response capacity. The elements below will be helpful to the UN, the humanitarian partners and national authorities in the of the forthcoming hurricane season:

  • Dependence of the logistics of the Multinational Interim Force (MIF). Other solutions have to be sought in order to increase the deployment capacity (future role of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti). This is not only relevant for relief assistance distribution, but also for medical evacuations.

  • Late positioning/deployment of UN and humanitarian actors in the field: The UN and the humanitarian partners should increase their presence outside Port-au-Prince, particularly at a time of humanitarian crises.

  • Need to pre-position food and non-food items for the next hurricane season.

  • Reinforcing the local capacity. Although the local capacity has been improved since the last disaster (Hurricane Georges 1998), there is a need to strengthen the surge capacity of the National Civil Protection.

  • Lack of communications equipment: Autonomous equipment, with self-sufficient power supply, need to be deployed at short notice to any remote affected area.

  • Increased vulnerability of Haiti: environment restoration should be a priority.

  • Cooperation with the Dominican Republic: Following a recent meeting, UN Resident Coordinators in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic have decided to improve information sharing, analyses of logistics capacity on both sides and to reinforce prevention and early warning systems.
Interim Cooperation Framework/Cadre de Cooperation Interimaire (ICF/CCI)

10. More than 200 experts from 26 organizations, government and civil society are participating in 16 Theme Groups and Sub-Groups. Each Theme Group is composed of a Government Leader, UN/Donor Focal Point and international and national experts. All groups and sub-groups have submitted reports with priority activities for financing over the next two years. The first draft of the Synthesis Report was disseminated on 11 June. Examination of the causes of the crises and preventive measures against recurrence has also been discussed. On 31 May and 1 June, the Government held consultations with civil society and with political parties on the CCI. Regional workshops have been conducted in Cap Haitien, Gonaives and Les Cayes. On 14 June, the UN/Donors discussed the draft CCI Synthesis Report and aid-coordination for its implementation. On 15 June, there was a joint Government-UN/Donors meeting on the CCI with governmental consultations with civil society to follow to incorporate their comments into the report. The final report is scheduled for the 29 June. The World Bank, the United Nations, The Inter American Development Bank and the European Commission will host the Donor Conference in Washington on 19-20 July, on behalf of the Haitian Transition Government.


11. On 8 June, OAS adopted a resolution recognizing the legitimacy of the Haitian Transitional Government. The resolution ended the division that prevailed the past three months concerning the issue of Haiti. The only concession made to CARICOM concerns a reference to Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted in 2001. The article, which has never been applied and which CARICOM (nearly half of the OAS States) insisted on including in the resolution, provides for an international audit of the democratic process.

12. The adopted resolution is limited to authorizing the OAS Permanent Council to undertake all necessary diplomatic initiatives to encourage the complete restauration of democracy in Haiti. The OAS resolution urges the Inter-American Commision of Human Rights (IAHCR) to monitor and report on developments in Haiti, as well as calling on the OAS Special Mission for strenghtening Democracy in Haiti to assist the country's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) in preparing, organizing and overseeing the elections in coordination with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. (MINUSTAH).

13. According to some actors, the OAS resolution may open the way for the investigation CARICOM and other nations like South Africa have lobbied for concerning the departure of former President Aristide.

14. The Governement is still conducting talks with Fanmi Lavalas leaders on their participation in the election process.

Water, health and sanitation

15. Only 43 % of the population has access to a water distribution system - the lowest rate in the western hemisphere. The lack of a drainage system of industrial and domestic used water and the inefficient system of garbage collection constitute high epidemic risk factors.

16. According to the CCI Health and Sanitation Team, the Ministry of Public Health has a budget of about 25 million USD, of which more than half is absorbed at the central level and by the capital's hospitals. Due to the low budget, the medical staff is poorly paid and there is no system of supervision. Despite the poverty, the population themselves are financing 48 % of the national health system.

17. The departmental hospitals were constructed 70 years ago, and some services do not function due to lack of electricity, water and medicine. The current health system does not provide the most basic health services. The risk of dying while pregnant is a thousand times higher for a Haitian woman (523 of 100,000 births) than for a women in the US. Infant mortality is 80 of 1,000. Life expectancy has fallen from 55 to 52,3 years. Serious malnutrition hit 4,5 % of the children, and moderate chronic malnutrition 22% of the children below 5 years.


18. The transition between the MIF and the MINUSTAH remains a major concern for security and stability, although the situation apperently seems stable in Port-au-Prince.No kidnapping has been reported during the two last weeks in the capital. On the other hand, house break ins, armed robberies and burglaries seem to increase. Shopkeepers in Port-au-Prince are asking help of the national police to secure their business. On 15 May, 17 injured people were brought in to the Canape Vert Hospital of Port-au-Prince, and one ex-military was killed in the capital area Plaisance on 15 May.

19. The national police (PNH) have announced a campaign against banditry. During the weekend, 4-6 June, 38 criminals were arrested. The police have still not caught all the prisoners that escaped during the February tumults.

20. In Gonaives, on the contrary, state of insecurity is intensified. The population is reportedly complaining about the inability of the police to stabilize the situation: Armed groups are still present. On 16 May a member of a political organization (anti-Lavalas) was killed. A male citizen was kidnapped on 7 June.

21. According to the general director of the Haitian National Police (HNP), the police force has currently some 2,500 policemen in service. An average of 70 % are on duty daily. The Multinational Interim Force are cooperating and supporting reliable policemen, but still quite a few policemen are corrupted and serve various gangs. Lack of cars, equipment, weapons, radios and logistics is reducing the effect of their actions to maintain law and order and fight crime. The recruitment campaign will bring new men, generally former military, into HNP.

22. UN agencies and NGOs still are distributing relief. Hatian National Police have agreed to provide security in Mapou and Fonds Verettes during day-time. 3 support operations last week involved a total of 19 policemen, who were transported to Mapou by helicopters, and to Fond-Verrettes by car, provided by the Civil Protection Department, (Source: UN Field Security Officer/CMCOORD)

Multinational Interim Force (MIF)/ United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

23. President Boniface and Prime Minister Latortue with United Nations Special Envoy Mr. Dumas, attended the Transfer of Authority from the MIF to the MINUSTAH on June 1 in Port-au-Prince. The transfer of authority between the two forces is scheduled for 20 and 25 June, then MINUSTAH will have an operational role.

24. In Port-au-Prince the MINUSTAH is mainly perceived as a military force, despite all the communication efforts made to the Press.

25. Contacts are being made between MINUSTAH and HNP, due to assumption of attacks and expected actions during the period of transition.

26. MINUSTAH has already been briefed on the possibility of the using their troops to support the police according to their Terms of Reference.

MIF Activities

27. Deployment: The MIF is preparing the transition and the various contingents are concentrating their troops in one or two locations per sector.

28. Civil-affairs: The troops of the Civil Affairs are leaving around 20 th of June. Only Canadians Cimic troops will remain until the end of July. On 10 June, the CMOC was taken over by the MINUSTAH Cimic Coordination Center (CCC) . The MIF country assessments have been transfered to two MINUSTAH Cimic officers from Paraguay and Bolivia.

29. Relief support: Following an emergency call (lack of food, lacking security for UN staff on the ground) on 9 June, MIF assisted UNICEF country manager in Mapou. MIF supported airlift, as an UN transport Helicopter had been delayed. MIF provided 3 rotations of food carrying 15 tons on 10 June as well as security on ground.

30. Canadian Forces: (Area of responsibility: South West of Port-au-Prince to Miragoane in the department of Grand Anse). A platoon will deploy to Gonaives.

31. Chilean Forces: (Area of responsibility: South East of Port au Prince, Petionville and Hinche).

32. French Forces: (Area of responsibility: North part of the country including the 4 departments of Artibonite, North West, North and North Est). 2 companies in Cap Haitien, 1 company in Gonaives.

33. US Forces: (North area of Port au Prince, Jeremie, Jacmel and Les Cayes). Only troops in Port-au-Prince, no presence in the Southern Claw.

34. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Mr. Erik Haegglund, Direct Tel. +41-22-917 3299

Press contact:
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-212-963 87 40

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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