OCHA Situation Report No. 16
Haiti - Socio-Political Crisis
17 November 2004
1. Activities and efforts of the humanitarian community have been mainly focused, in the last six months, on the areas of Mapou and Fonds-Verrettes and lately Gonaives, thus reducing activities elsewhere.
2. The deteriorating public security conditions, particularly in Gonaives, are of great concern. Banditry and unlawful conducts seriously hinders humanitarian activities and hampers not only the implementation of humanitarian programmes but also the transition process from the emergency phase to rehabilitation and development. Former members of the Haitian Armed Forces are becoming increasingly bold in their reassertion of their "role" in ensuring public security and have de facto control of a number of towns.
Access by Road
3. The access to Gonaives from the capital is fully restored. WFP trucks are using the main road (Nationale 1) without major difficulties. Other major roads in the North (Port-au-Prince to Cap Haitien /Cap Haitien to Port-de-Paix) are accessible for small 4WD vehicles and trailer trucks. The rest of the country is accessible.
4. The security situation remains rather stable in Port-au-Prince despite diffuse tension and daily sporadic shootings. Heavily armed gangs have been fighting with the Police Nationale de Haiti (PNH), with regular losses on both sides. Some heavily armed ex-militaries are still operating in the city, patrolling and setting up check points.
5. MINUSTAH has been requested to increase the capacity of protection and general security. MINUSTAH supports the efforts of the 40 policemen from the PNH operating in Gonaives (population: 230,000). Winter Etienne, a rebel leader in Gonaives, gave a declaration to the Associated Press, giving the Government a deadline to restore order in Gonaives. MINUSTAH is closely monitoring the situation. A contingent of police officers from Pakistan is due to arrive in mid-November in Gonaives.
6. The UNSECOORD office is being strengthened with additional staff to ensure a better assessment of the security situation in the country. It has been decided that the UNSECCORD would field a security officer to a UN premise to be set up in Gonaives.
7. Coordination meetings continue twice a week in Gonaives and Port-au-Prince, which the Minister of Environment, Mr. Wainwright, attends on a regular basis. Coordination remains a challenge, particularly to ensure successful clean-up operations and distributions of relief items without violence with the support of MINUSTAH.
8. Almost a month and a half after the disaster, following the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and the OCHA presence in Gonaives, coordination of operations is being handed over to UN agencies (UNICEF, PAHO/WHO and UNDP), supporting the Government in its rehabilitation efforts. In order to avoid the growing politicization by the de facto district representatives, coordination has been reinforced at a technical level, as well with the Ministry of Environment.
9. The military and police components of MINUSTAH have been providing logistical and operational support to humanitarian activities in Gonaives.
10. While the operation of the port is still erratic, WFP was able to retrieve containers from the port. WFP continues to work closely with the Government and the MINUSTAH, which has put in place patrols and checkpoints in the troubled areas around the port, in order to find a durable solution. This situation has given serious impact on the quantity of food commodities that WFP could dispatch to Gonaives and has brought to a halt all the other WFP operations in the country.
11. Two street children who were participating in UNICEF funded Protection programmes were allegedly murdered in Port-au-Prince. On 18 October, the bodies of another 10 children, shot and beheaded, were found in the morgue.
12. A coordinated response is being carried out with human rights NGOs and the Ombudsman Office (a children's rights unit set up with the support of UNICEF), which are currently undertaking their own enquiries. UNICEF will also meet with the Minister of Justice to request a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of these killings, in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal and administrative sanctions as provided by Haitian law and in accordance with international human rights standards.
13. Out of fear, the number of street children sleeping in one centre has almost doubled from 70-80 children/night, to 130-150 children/night. The number of children sleeping in the other centers has increased from 45 to 65.
14. UNICEF will provide non-food items to the children's centers to increase their capacity to accommodate the growing numbers of children seeking refuge and protection. UNICEF will diffuse radio spots on the vulnerability and protection of street children.
15. The total of food distributed in Gonaives and outskirts since the onset of the crisis is 2,083 MT while the total of food distributed in other affected areas is 150 MT. This gives us a total of 2,233 MT of food commodities that have been distributed in Gonaives and other affected areas.
16. The situation in Gonaives requires urgent action in terms of rehabilitation of irrigation systems, an expensive operation. Agricultural seeds and tools are still required. Coordination meetings in the farming sector continue with all partners involved in agricultural rehabilitation (FAO, Action contre la Faim (ACF), World Vision, Oxfam UK/Quebec, ACTED, OAS's Agricultural Cooperation Institute). Activities in the rest of the country have been reduced.
17. As reported earlier, up to 80 per cent of the irrigation system has been destroyed in Gonaives, Vallées des Trois Rivières and Moustiques. It is therefore of utmost importance to rehabilitate the irrigation system. So far, no funds have been received for these rehabilitation operations.
18. The Government has made available HTG (Haitian Gourds) 10 million (approximately USD 270,000). HTG 4 million will be used in Bas Artibonite to restore the electric plant in Belanger, to repair infrastructures, to set up seeds and farming centres as well as to carry out some containment work on the river La Quinte. In Haute Artibonite, the balance will be given to reforestation, construction of cisterns and other civil engineering projects.
Health and Nutrition
19. The situation in the health sector in Gonaives has improved and is considered to be better than before the crisis. Some issues need to be dealt with, such as the lack of Haitian doctors in the Canadian/Norwegian Red Cross Field Hospital, and the issue of free medical assistance and treatments.
20. According to the Red Cross, the Field Hospital continues to be under-utilized. During its first 3 weeks of operation beginning 14 October 2004, the hospital received a total of 2,933 outpatients (of which 458 children), carried out 32 surgeries and attended 151 deliveries. A total of 312 persons were admitted for care. A study is under way to better understand the reason for under utilization.
21. A recent UNFPA needs assessment mission on reproductive health to Gonaives (25-27 October) noted that five weeks after the catastrophe, the level of response of the international community and the Government is not adequate to satisfy the current needs. In order to assist authorities, UNFPA has decided to fund the hiring of personnel by the Sanitary Direction of the Artibonite department in order to ensure better coordination of health services. UNFPA also contributes to the setting up of a coordination cell together with UNICEF, WHO/PAHO and UNOPS in Gonaives.
Resettlement and Shelter
22. Resettlement of flood-affected people is still a sensitive issue that has not yet received clear political guidance. A recent debate has emerged from a project to establish a tented camp on the outskirts of Gonaives for up to 1,000 people for 45 days, while a durable alternative is found.
Water and Sanitation
23. The water and sanitation sector shows clear improvement, especially in water supply to the most affected persons living in relocated shelter sites. Some 500 liters of water is being distributed per day. Estimated needs are of 3,450 liters per day for Gonaives, a city of some 230,000 inhabitants. The normal water ration is of 70 liters day/person though current figures are closer to 10 liters per day.
24. The Service National d'Eau Potable (SNEP), the national water management authority, fielded technicians to reinforce it regional office in Gonaives to strengthen the water distribution pipe and repair the main drilling, currently running at half of its capacity, which fills the SNEP's 2,400 liters reservoir, from which OXFAM and ACF provide distribution to the population. Another pump is being rehabilitated to provide more water in the area.
25. The Departement Hygiène Publique (DHP) continues clean-up operations in building and streets of Gonaives as well as disinfections of private dwellings.
26. The French Red Cross mass water Emergency Recovery Unit (ERU) has reached a production of more than 500,000 liters of drinking water per day affording approximately 33,500 persons with 15 liters. The total amount of produced water is being distributed, mostly through OXFAM, who has taken over six of the twelve water points formerly operated by FRC. The FRC, however, continues to monitor the state of the 12 bladders.
27. UNICEF and OXFAM have agreed on a common strategy for the rehabilitation of the sanitation systems of fifty schools in Gonaives. UNICEF and OXFAM will also work together in cleaning and disinfecting wells. UNICEF's part will be to provide chlorine by facilitating three devices which uses electrolysis to convert salt to chlorine.
28. Recent floods in Gonaives particularly affected children, as some 1,170 children lost their lives. Others fall victim to acts of violence.
29. UNICEF deployed a team to Gonaives from 20 October to 2 November to work on protection, education and water and sanitation. UNICEF assessed the condition of orphans and street children, and coordinated with local organizations working on the matter, especially CARITAS. The problem of rape of teenage girls was also evaluated. The team concluded that this issue must be followed-up by simplifying the collection of information process, coordinate with local authorities and supporting CARITAS.
30. To support the return of 10,000 pupils to primary schools, UNICEF in cooperation with the regional education authorities is providing technical support for the cleaning of 50 schools with the help of a social movement, the "Timoun ke kontant" network, involving 1,000 parents and teachers. Trucks and loaders rented by UNICEF have been used in this clean-up phase.
31. Four schools were selected for a temporary school pilot project serving 2,000 children. Arrangements have been made with the local education department, and these schools have already been cleaned. UNICEF will start the rehabilitation of the sanitation system of these schools.
32. The dire situation prevailing in Gonaives still requires the continuation of humanitarian assistance for a while in term of basic needs. Nevertheless, it is necessary to put in place a strategy for recovery. A plan of action is under discussion among the UN agencies, donors and the Government to ensure a strengthened cooperation in line with the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF), thus under the direction of the Haitian government, with the UN support for the execution.
33. On 28 October, a meeting on rehabilitation and reconstruction for Gonaives was held with UN agencies and donors, chaired by the Minister of Environment. It was decided to dispatch a multi-sectoral team in order to elaborate a strategy for sustainable rehabilitation with a focus on disaster prevention and management.
Resettlement and Shelter
34. Reconstruction of houses continues in Mapou/Belle Anse. The Netherlands Red Cross is starting the construction of 200 houses for most vulnerable families after May floods until December 2004, to be extended to the end of February 2005).
Southern Departments (Sud, Sud-Est and Grande-Anse)
35. On disaster preparedness activities, the Netherlands Red Cross (NRCS) is continuing its community-based disaster preparedness in southern provinces (Sud, Sud-Est, Grande-Anse) until December 2004. This includes the training workshops for the new Local Disaster Committees and other small projects such as reforestation of trees, replanting mangroves, rehabilitating houses in hurricane-prone areas, and cleaning of canals).
36. This situation report, together with the information on contributions and other ongoing emergencies is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int
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