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Promises and realities for people of Haiti

shadiasimpson, [email protected]

Promises and realities for people of Haiti

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LAST FRIDAY’S report to the United Nations Security Council by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the cholera epidemic in Haiti should serve as a timely reminder to the world’s rich and powerful nations of their shameful failure to honour pledges made for rehabilitation and reconstruction following the earthquake devastation in January 2010.
In the wake of the earthquake that killed at least 300 000 and left more than 1.5 million homeless, with approximately 400 000 still languishing in makeshift camps, major donor nations and international financial institutions pledged to provide about US$5 billion (BDS$10 billion). Sadly, only about half of that has been made available.
To add to the horrors of daily life in what remains a poverty stricken nation, there surfaced the cholera outbreak, traced initially to callous behaviour by a Nepalese contingent of the UN Peacekeeping Force. Before long, thousands of Haitians fell victim to the spreading epidemic and, according to the World Health Organization, there could be at least 112 000 cases during this year.
But Ban Ki-Moon’s update should also be a reminder for governments and agencies of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to reduce customary rhetoric on “helping Haiti” and, instead, become more active in practical assistance.
Two such initiatives come readily to mind, as surfaced at last July’s annual CARICOM Summit in St Kitts: arrangements to ease visa restrictions for Haitians seeking to travel to partner states of the Community; and fast-tracking arrangements to operationalize the “Haiti-CARICOM Fund” to help in post-earthquake reconstruction – a project endorsed two years ago this month at the Third CARICOM-Cuba Conference in Havana.  
In sharp contrast to Haiti’s cholera crisis, there were the impressive initiatives recently by Cuba to effectively combat reports of cholera cases in some provinces.
Despite, that is, the severe disadvantages it continues to face from an unprecedented financial, trade and economic embargo by the United States for half a century.
On the other hand, Haiti, which has long been a beneficiary of Cuban assistance for its health sector, remains largely at the mercy of the international community for positive responses to combat the scourge of cholera.
Now, as it copes with the most recent negative consequences of Hurricane Isaac, the administration of President Michel Martelly anxiously awaits the release of promised international funding