In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Pulling Haiti back from the brink

The following article was posted on the UN News website in April this year. 

'Without an urgent injection of funds to expand emergency feeding operations, extend existing job programmes and jump-start agricultural activity, a humanitarian disaster is imminent, warns Joël Boutroue, coordinator of the United Nations Humanitarian programme in Haiti.

'The level of poverty, combined with the lack of coping mechanisms for the poorest Haitians, means we have the potential for a very explosive situation.'

The UN, in consultation with the Haitian government has drafted an emergency plan to address the international food crisis, which has impacted Haiti particularly hard because of deforestation, soil erosion, lack of fertile farm land and the country's dependence on subsistence farming and foreign imports.

In a briefing to the UN Security Council, Mr Annabi suggested a comprehensive approach to protecting and consolidating Haiti's stability. This he said would require urgent food aid to produce immediate and visible improvements in living conditions. These efforts would have to be consolidated by long-term agricultural assistance, in order to increase crop yields, he said, calling on donor countries and organisations to work creatively with the Haitian government toward these goals.

Mr Boutroue has outlined a number of long-term actions, including operations to reverse environmental damage and address shortages of water and power, which will allow agricultural work to take place and promote susatainable development in Haiti.

Substantial assistance from the international community, says Mr Annabi, will also be required to sustain strategic peace keeping operations and continued reform of the police and judiciary, which are noted for their lack of effectiveness and for perpetuating human rights abuses.

These actions, he said, would promote national security by limiting the smuggling of illicit drugs and weapons by Haiti's criminal gangs and by making the penal system a legitimate and credible authority.

Mr Annabi recognised that ultimately, progress would depend on Haitians themselves. Emphasising the need for politicians to show a united front, he said that 'While moments of tension will be inevitable, it is crucial that political leaders and opinion-makers rise to the occasion and show restraint and a genuine desire for collaboration.'

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