One Year Later: How Has The UN Helped Haiti?

Tala Dowlatshahi|TalkRadioNews

To commemorate the one year anniversary in Haiti since the devastating earthquake struck and killed over 200,000 people, the UN Secretary-General organized a wreath laying ceremony today and called on the international community to continue financial and structural support for its citizens. This is one of a dozen calls issued by Ban Ki-moon this past year, but many critics of the UN operation say he and his staff are not doing enough.

Fleecing Generosity: Haiti's President Rene Preval, center, former U.S. President George W. Bush, right, and former President and U.N. special envoy for Haiti Bill Clinton, left, pose Monday in front of the earthquake-damaged presidential palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.The former U.S. presidents are trying to draw aid and investment to Haiti. Photo: Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press

Has the UN failed to keep many of the promises made a year ago? For one, the UN monitored election on November 28, 2010 was a chaotic nightmare, causing Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)  to announce there was no winner and that there would be a thorough investigation to explore why many voting centers did not open for hours and why many voters could not find their polling stations. The current President Rene Preval’s term will expire on February 7, so a decision has to be swiftly made. With no known future leadership, thousands of Haitians are angered by what they see as corruption within the government and a lack of interest in their choice for an effective leader to bring Haiti out of social and economic turmoil.

The UN has also been tasked as the main humanitarian monitoring group through its Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA.) But the UN has been highly criticized for not doing enough to rebuild and reconstruct and to provide efficient aid and medicines to combat the rampant spread of cholera which has plagued the region for several months now.

Much of Haiti's infrastructure and homes have not been rebuilt one year later. Donation organizations claim it only takes a few bucks to feed, clothe, and house the disenfranchised.

Many critics have accused the over 17,000 NGO’s (Non Governmental Organizations) of trying to profit from the lucrative business of poverty. Over 80 percent of the country’s standard services are provided by the private sector through the aid of NGO’s as the “middleman.” A large portion of funds get funneled in through these groups, who often work on a vertical agenda and rarely cross-fertilize their needs and services with other NGO’s operating in the country. This means aid work to support the needs of Haitians is duplicated, and many other needs are neglected.

Edmond Mulet, head of the MINUSTAH (the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) has repeatedly stated that the UN has received more than half of the initial 1.5 billion pledged to Haiti in 2010 and that these funds have been “made effective”, so far. The appeal for funds was officially launched by the Secretary-General; the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, Bill Clinton; the Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes; and Ambassador Leo Mérorès of Haiti and over 1.1 billion has been received meeting some 72 percent of supposed costs. But just where has all this money gone?

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