This document is intended to provide key information to humanitarian actors (including Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement Operations) relating to the regulatory and policy environment applying to the entry of incoming disaster relief in Haiti for the response to the 14 August 2021 earthquake, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
State of Emergency, Request of Humanitarian Aid and Assistance, List of Urgent Needs
State of Emergency announced by the Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, on 14 August 2021 for a period of one month.
Nor formal appeal to request international support made by Haiti. However, a Preliminary List of Urgent Needs was issued by the Primature (the Office of the Prime Minister of Haiti) on 15 August. This list takes into consideration the needs of the communities affected for a period of three months. It is relatively specific in terms of items, quantities, and locations, focusing on: Food; Sanitary products; Shelters; PPE; and Medicines (as issued by the Ministry of Health) (List of Needs in Annex 1).
A subsequent List of Needs for the Recovery Period (to address damages to infrastructures and housings) will be communicated. The country will need technical assistance to do the needs assessment.
To avoid Unsolicited Bilateral Donations (UBDs), the humanitarian aid provided should be in accordance and match the needs mentioned in the 15 August List of Needs.
Humanitarian actors are asked to coordinate the provision of the aid with the Centre d’Operation d’Urgence Nationale (National EOC).
While massive aid is being needed, uncoordinated donations of relief goods may cause the same kind of difficulties and bottlenecks faced in previous disasters (2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane Matthew). The arrival of relief supplies in the country also needs to correspond to identified needs and meet international quality standards.
U.S. Military Support
- USAID has requested the unique capabilities of the Department of Defense (DoD) U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) to support USAID’s response to the earthquake. SOUTHCOM established Joint Task Force-Haiti in support of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), which is leading the U.S. government’s response efforts (Department of Defense Providing Air Transport in Support of USAID Haiti Earthquake Response | Press Release | U.S. Agency for International Development).
A new Plan National pour la Gestion des Risques de Desastres (PNGRD) for 2019-2030 was adopted in 2018. As per the Plan, the National Committee is responsible to foresee the DRM strategy and policy of the country. Note that the President of the Haitian RC is member.
As per 14 August 2021 Communique from the Min. of Plannification and External Cooperation, the Civil Protection Direction is the only authority responsible for identifying the needs and guide humanitarian actors in the provision of humanitarian aid that match those needs. Humanitarian actors can contact the Civil protection System at: firstname.lastname@example.org; +509 46 05 05 05; or in person at the premises of the General Directorate.
La Primature has reiterated, in a Communique on 17 August 2021, the importance to comply with the institutional coordination mechanism to facilitate a better reception and distribution of aid in Haiti. The Government will set up a consultation mechanism integrating the business sector, civil society, political parties, and the diaspora, with a view to constituting an ad hoc group to work in conjunction with an interministerial commission on responses to the consequences of the earthquake.
Entry of humanitarian personnel
Haitian law contains no specific provision for visas for disaster relief and initial recovery personnel. During the 2010 earthquake response, nationals from almost all countries were allowed to enter the country and stay for a period of 90 days after the earthquake without a visa and without cost.
As per the Circular N0.BM-02-213774 issued by the Public Health Authority of Haiti (MSPP) aiming at preventing the spread of the COVID-19, all passengers must provide proof of negative laboratory molecular test result (RDT AG OR RT PCR) for COVID-19 to the airline before boarding international flight to Haiti. The test should be taken within 72 hours prior the scheduled flight. All air travellers who have recovered from COVID-19 upon presentation of their medical certificate are exempted. Failure to provide these documents shall result in boarding denial by the air carrier (Source: IMPACCT Bulletin no. 1-CIQP).
Recognition of professional qualifications
The Ministry of Public Health and Population is the authority responsible for the recognition of the credentials of foreign personnel, particularly medical qualifications. However, there is no provision for the recognition of qualifications of foreign personnel after a disaster.
Pursuant to the decree of 25 March 1974 concerning the professional association of Haitian engineers and architects, foreign engineers and architects are only authorized to work in Haiti in areas in which there are no or insufficient Haitian professionals. However, this rule does not seem to have been applied in practice.
The Customs administration of Haiti, in accordance with the existing regulations, has the procedures enabling it to manage imports of humanitarian nature. In case any institution wants to make a donation or provide specific support, once the Department of Civil Protection of the Ministry of Interior has given its approval, please submit the AWB / bill of lading as well as a detailed packing list to the customs administration at the point of entry. A customs inspector will attend the distribution at the designated location. This procedure facilitates the work of organisations that are not registered as active NGOs in Haiti. INGOs recognized by the Haitian State have their own mode of operation (Source: IMPACCT Bulletin no. 1-CIQP).
As per 14 August 2021 Communique from the Min. of Plannification and External Cooperation, a One-Stop-Shop made up of the Ministries of Customs, Finance and Plannification, was put in place to facilitate/expedite the clearance of humanitarian aid.
New! Tax duties for the import of solicited humanitarian aid are waived.
Importation of medicines (Source: IMPACCT WG)
In 2020, the Ministry of Health issued a List of Essential Medicines for Haiti (Annex 2).
On 15 August, the Primature issued the List of Urgent Needs, including medicines and special medical equipment.
All medicines need an authorization from the Public Health Ministry except those listed in the Urgent Needs List.
New! In a Circulaire of 17 August, the Ministry of Health reminds those foreign medical professionals need to get an authorization from the Ministry of Health before any intervention in the field and the import of medicines needs to match the List of Needs issued by the Gov.
Importation of telecommunication
The law does not seem to impose restrictions or limitations on the importation of telecommunication resources. The Decree of 12 October 1977, which grants the State a monopoly on telecommunication services, does not, however, provide for expedited procedures to obtain a satellite frequency.
The Haitian Government has signed the Tampere Convention on the provision of telecommunication resources in emergency situations, although it has not yet ratified it. This convention contains specific provisions on telecommunication issues during international relief operations with regard to legal facilities to import and export equipment, the use of specific radio frequency spectrums, etc.
As per the List of Needs and Communique from the Ministere de la Plannification et la Cooperation Externe (14 August 2021), 30,000 tents are requested to be distributed among the four more affected zones. Note that USAID Fact Sheet no.3 estimated to 83,000 the number of houses damaged or destroyed.
The authorities, referring to the 2010 earthquake response and 2016 hurricane Matthew response, are expressly asking humanitarian actors not to establish camps (camps de fortune). Tents and plastic bache should be distributed to the persons effectively affected by the destruction of their housing, so they can spend the night near their residence.