United Nations issues emergency aid appeal for Haiti after Hurricane Matthew slams country

Editors note: Roger Annis is a long-time Haiti solidarity activist based in Vancouver. He has long published analysis about the imperialist character of Canada’s interest in Haiti, including its participation in the military coup against President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Through his solidarity work he has developed connections with Haitian social movements and organizations and has reported extensively on their work on the ground.

The Volcano plans to publish an article from Roger next week. This week we are running a piece from his website that provides an introduction to the news coming from the hurricane devastation of Haiti this week. His introduction is printed here, with links to the news articles he is introducing. For those who are interested in donating to disaster relief in Haiti but are suspicious of international aid organizations, see the links in this article from Counterpunch, which point towards Haitian peasant and community organizations that are calling for direct support.

Haiti has been greatly weakened and impoverished by years and decades of big-power intervention, preventing the country from exercising its political sovereignty and implementing social justice policies to guide its human development. On October 4, 2016, the country received another devastating blow when Hurricane Matthew passed over the western end of the Caribbean island. According to the United Nations, 1.4 million people are in need of emergency aid in the affected area.

Jérémie, Haiti following the passing of Hurricane Matthew on Oct 4, 2016 (photo by UN agency) 
Jérémie, Haiti following the passing of Hurricane Matthew on Oct 4, 2016 (photo by UN agency)

This latest disaster greatly strains the already limited resources of the country of ten million people. Seven years ago, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti’s capital city region of Port Au Prince, damaging or flattening most buildings in the region and killing 40,000 to 70,000 people. An accurate count of the death toll was never made.

Nine months following the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was struck again, this time by a devastating cholera epidemic. Since then, cholera has killed some 10,000 people and has sickened hundreds of thousands. Cholera was previously unknown in Haiti. The source of the epidemic was the soldiers of the United Nations Security Council military occupation force in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH. Soldiers of the Nepal contingent of MINUSTAH were not screened for cholera prior to entry to Haiti. In Nepal, cholera is endemic. The contingent was criminally negligent when it failed to conduct proper sanitation procedures at its military camp located on a tributary of Haiti’s largest river, the Artibonite.

Path of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
Path of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

Following the cholera outbreak, the United Nations and its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, fought tooth and nail against any recognition that they were responsible. They have refused to compensate the victims and they have refused to adequately assist Haiti in establishing clean water and sanitation systems. A new resurgence of cholera is one of the grave public health risks issuing from the passage of Hurricane Matthew. Already residents of the hurricane-struck region have died from cholera.

Enclosed are news reports of the situation today in Haiti. Watch this website for an article tomorrow, October 12, reporting on the political repercussions in Haiti of the hurricane disaster.

Two countries rushing to boost their existing aid to Haiti are Cuba and Venezuela. Meanwhile, as in January 2010, the United States has landed soldiers at the international airport in Port au Prince. They are there to enforce what is called ‘political stability’. That is code language for pax Americana.

From Wikipedia: ‘Pax Americana’ describes the state of relative peace [sic] in the Western Hemisphere and later the world as a result of the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States beginning around the middle of the 20th century and continuing…’

Globe and Mail, “Canadian Red Cross vows donations will reach hurricane victims in Haiti.” October 10, 2016

Globe and Mail, “UN appeals for $120-million in aid for hurricane-stricken Haiti.” October 10, 2016.

Associated Press, “Haitians await aid, help each other regain some normalcy.” October 11, 2016.

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