Haiti: Socio-Political Crisis OCHA Situation Report No. 14

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 19 Jul 2004
Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2004/106
OCHA Situation Report No. 14
Haiti - Socio-Political Crisis
19 July 2004

Interim Cooperation Framework

1. On 19-20 July The Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF/CCI) is being presented at the Donor Conference in Washington DC, hosted by the World Bank, The United Nations, The Inter American Development Bank and the European Commission on behalf of the Haitian Transition Government. This exercise has been led by the government with strong support and involvement of the international community, taking into consideration the lessons learned in the past in Haiti. The Interim Cooperation Framework has been developed by 26 bilateral and multilateral agencies, including the United Nations (through the provision of over 200 technical experts). The ICF with its clear priorities and result framework provides a tool to identify urgent and short term needs of the country and transition strategy for the next two years. The document covers four main areas:

  • Political governance and national dialogue
  • Economic governance
  • Economic recovery
  • Access to basic services
2. The overall financing needs for the implementation of the ICF for the period of July 2004 - September 2006 are estimated to be approximately USD 1,37 billion. Despite the internal and external resources, the financing gap is of some USD 925 million. Although the government intends to increase its revenue stream and has allocated internal resources to finance the ICF interventions, the vast majority of the identified financing gap will require external donor assistance. The successful implementation of the ICF will also call for a sustained pace of disbursements and a rapid startup of activities to be able to reach the identified objectives.

Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)

3. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) is now complete with 9 members. Since the Fanmi Lavalas party failed to name their candidate, the following institutions, Conférence Episcopale d'Haïti, Eglise Episcopale d'Haiti, Cour de Cassation, Fédération Protestante and Justice et Paix chose the lawyer Joséfa Raymond Gauthier. She was sworn in on 1 July at the Supreme Court. The Information Officer of CEP foresees a budget of USD 40 million to hold the coming elections.

Political parties

4. In Haiti, which has 8 million inhabitants, 68 political parties are officially registered. As a comparison, only 3 big parties participated in the president election this year in the Dominican Republic, which also has around 8 million inhabitants. At the end of June, The Institut Supérieur de Formation Politique Sociale (ISPOS) organized a three day colloquium, supported by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, to examine the challenges of strengthening the democracy.

State of the juridical system

5. During the Aristide presidency, judicial officials denounced pressures at both central and local levels of government. A number of judicial officials were either dismissed or went into exile or "marronage" (hiding).

In a report of 20 June, Amnesty International notes that the Interim Government has swiftly moved to arrest members of Fanmi Lavalas party, but has not acted with the same commitment against perpetrators of grave human right violations.

6. On 22 April, Louis-Jodel Chamblain, second in command of the former paramilitary organization (FRAPH), convicted in absentia for his part in human right abuses, turned himself in to the police. Chamblain is accused of playing a central role in the Raboteau massacre in 1994 in Gonaïves, where some 20 persons were killed. His case is an important test for Haiti's judicial system. It is also a test of the country's commitment to put an end to impunity. According to the Amnesty report a number of witnesses and surviving victims of the Raboteau massacre are in hiding, fearing for their lives.

7. The former Prime Minister of the Aristide government, Yvon Neptune, was arrested on 27 June. Although the Fanmi Lavalas party has protested, La Coalition Nationale pour les Droits des Haïtiens (NCHR) has stated that the arrest is a positive step against impunity. Yvon Neptune is under suspicion of being implicated in the massacre, known as "La Scierie", in Saint-Marc on 11 February 2004.

8. Haitian rule of law institutions, already plagued by mismanagement and corruption, were further weakened by the recent conflict: courthouses, prisons and police stations were burned.

Children at risk

9. Child domestic workers are perhaps amongst the most exploited sectors in Haiti. A child who stays with and works for another family is called a "restavec" (rester avec), in Creole. According to the Restavec Children Foundation, these children are often given away or sold by poor families in order to survive. Frequently the children's most basic rights to health and education are denied. They are not paid for their work and often abused. For instance, the restavecs have to return to their duties in the house, after having escorted the house owner's children to school. The restavec boys and the girls often flee at the age of 12-13, joining one of the many street gangs or ending up as prostitutes.

10. On 13 June, Children's Day, thousands of children marched in the streets of Les Cayes against this modern form of slavery, asking for the abolition of the "restavec" system.

11. The exact number of restavecs is not known, however the latest statistics from 2002 made by UNICEF, PNUD and Save the Children, lists a number of 173,000 children of whom 102,000 are girls. BothUNICEF, Amnesty International and the Catholic Church have adressed the increasing number of restavecs. This phenomenon is one of the reasons of the high illiteracy rate in Haiti. In the Carribbean, Haiti has the lowest rate of school enrolement (52%) and the highest number of child workers.

12. The "restavec" system is deeply rooted in the Haitian Society and a delicate issue to address. Nevertheless Haiti has ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child, but not the Convention 138 and 182 of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which set the age to 15 for permanent work and 14 for temporary work. Convention 182 prohibits children for participating in armed conflicts, illegal trafficking and prostitution.

Organization:
Activities:
Department:
UNICEF Awareness raising programs on the restavec system
Elaborating a National Plan for the protection of restavecs.
Drafting a Child Code.
Supporting a Child Police Unit in charge of inquiries on child abuse.
Technical and financial support to local NGOs to their protection and rehabilitation programs

Nationwide




West
Plateau central
Foyer Maurice Sixto, Haitian NGO Education Programs for 300 children
Professional Training
Social Activities
Refuge
Port-au-Prince
- Le Foyer Lakay
- Le Centre d'Education Populaire
- Le Foyer l'Escale

Refuge
Carrefour-Feuille, Port-au-Prince
Centre-ville, Port-au-Prince
Drouillard, Port-au-Prince

Child flood victims

13. UNICEF estimates that floods in Haiti have affected more than 9,200 children, including 1,720 children under 5. According to the focal point for health after the floods, a significant number of children are traumatizised and losing the hope of a better future. Also school children are complaining of not sleeping and of memory loss. WHO/PAHO, Médecins du Monde, Médecins sans Frontières, Ministry of Public Health and Population and Adventist Development Relief Agency are carrying out psychological programmes targeting traumatisized children.

14. A priority of UNICEF is to protect the hundreds of children who have lost family members and their homes as well as to relocate families in safe areas. UNICEF has set up a psychosocial support programme for orphans and families in the affected areas and will develop an assessment of medium term needs of child victims. In joint programmes with local and international organisations, UNICEF also has set up a nutrition programme, provided equipment for temporary shelter, hygienic and non-food items for families and child victims as well as assisting in the educational aspects, including rebuilding of at least 5 schools.

Lack of vaccination

15. Immunization prevents childhood deaths as well as reduces the toll of disability, illness and missed schooling among the children who survive. A recent immunization campaign conducted by UNICEF last month in the border area between Haiti and the Dominican Republic revealed that 37 per cent of the children between 0-11 months have never been vaccinated before. These areas, including the Southeast, are so isolated that half of the children do not receive routine immunization against preventable diseases. The region has the highest rate of acute malnutrition in the country. One child in ten dies before the age of five.

Unemployment and economy

16. According to IHSI (Institut Haïtien de Statistique et Informatique) only 37 per cent of the work force has a paid job. This has to be seen in light of the informal sector of domestics, which employs more people than any other sector in Haiti. Domestic workers usually live in the employer's house. Law does not regulate this sector, and the domestic do not have any social protection or minimum wage.

17. The recruitment process to the Haitian National Police (PNH), for instance, reveals the desperate need of jobs. On 22 June there were 35,000 candidates in the nine departments of Haiti for the 1,500 posts available. Most of the applicants are students of whom an important number reportedly cannot afford to continue their studies. A policeman has a gross salary of around 5,000 gourdes a month (approx. USD130).

18. In 2003, Haiti's human development ranking was 150 out of 173 (HDI). The economic situation in Haiti is also connected to corruption. According to La Fondation Héritage pour Haïti (LFHH), corruption is widespread in public institutions. Their study, carried out in December 2003, corroborates the rank of 131 out of 133 countries attributed to Haiti in the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2003. Haiti was ranked - with Bangladesh and Nigeria - amongst the three most corrupt countries out of 133 surveyed. La Fondation Héritage pour Haiti has drawn the attention to these facts to the new government of Haiti, which is stating its desire to clean up State institutions. In a press release the president of LFHH also appeals to the private and civil society to establish the rule of law.

19. According to statistics of the Inter American Bank of Development (IDB), approximately 900 million USD is transferred from the Haitian Diaspora each year in remittances. This figure is more than twice the Haitian National Budget, 375 million USD in 2002-2003 (Source: Ministry of Economy and Finance)

FAO Evaluation of the impact of the floods in Haiti

20. The Ministry of Agriculture and FAO conducted recently an assessment on the impact of the floods in Haiti. The report comprises a proposed intervention, relaunch and rehabilitation scheme in addition to environmental protection proposals.

21. According to FAO evaluation, the damage caused by the rain comprises 250 ha. of arable land which are lost because of landslides, ravines or masses of gravel on the low lands. A large quantity of fishing materials to an estimated amount of 1.4 million gourdes (USD 40,000) was also damaged. The value of the lost agricultural products, the irrigation system and destroyed and damaged water reservoirs is estimated at 177, 471, 450 gourdes (USD 5, 070, 612)

Water

22. Haiti has significant water potential for water-based energy, and less than 10 % has been exploited, according to a report carried out by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB 1997). According to the CCI Team group on Environment, the resources available today, are far from being fully exploited, due to technical, financial and institutional obstacles. The hydroelectric system, the irrigation ans the water-supply system require improvement. In the current situation, only 47 % of the population has access to a distribution system of water.

HIV/AIDS

23. More than 300,000 persons in Haiti are living with HIV, the group from 15 - 30 years are most touched. UNESCO is supporting a HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness project; carried out by La Maison des Jeunes du Volontariat pour le développement d'Haïti (VDH). First and foremost the awareness program is targeting cultural and religious taboos, which are hindering the use of prevention. VDH are using theatre plays and oral tradition to reach as many as possible. Haitian doctors have addressed the fact that some people believe they are protected by voodoo symbols.

Security

24. According to UN Field Security Officer, kidnappings as well as violence continue in Port-au-Prince, especially in areas such as Delmas 30. Children and youngsters of wealthy families have been kidnapped. On 25 June five kidnappings were reported in Port-au-Prince. Also in Gonaives and Cap Haitian housebreak ins and kidnappings continue.

25. During the night of 19 June, a violent fire broke out in the center of Port-au-Prince, which has damaged several warehouses, shops and ruined 101 small-scale shopkeepers. Some see this incident in connection with the fire in Gonaives on 15 June. The fires are reportedly considered as criminal acts.

26. In the report of 20 June, Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the security of the civilian population in Haiti: The first challenge, according to Amnesty, is the protection of civilians and restoration of the rule of law. A large number of armed groups have continued to abuse human rights, such as former military officers, former members of paramilitary group active during the 1991-1994 military regime, armed criminal gangs, escaped prisoners and militias loyal to former President Aristide. The organisation has also documented abuses committed against human rights defenders, journalists and opponents of former President as well as supporters and their relatives.

27. Amnesty International believes that the first step towards security is setting up a comprehensive, nationwide disarmement of all groups currently in possession of weapons.

MINUSTAH

28. MINUSTAH head quarters in Port-au-Prince: 57 staff members.

Deployment of troops as of 1 July:

  • Brazil: 1195 troops stationed in Port-au-Prince and Hinche
  • Canada: 539 troops, 150 in Gonaïves and the rest in Port-au-Prince
  • Chile: 412 troops, all in Cap Haïtien
Information

29. 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. M. Moulin-Acevedo, direct Tel. +41-22-917 3160
(N.Y.) - Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-367 51 26

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.