Continued Crises in Haiti Post-Hurricane Reveal International Priorities

Residents wade through a flooded street caused by heavy rains from Hurricane Sandy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012. (photo: Dieu Nalio Chery)

Continued Crises in Haiti Post-Hurricane Reveal International Priorities

While US media has focused on Hurricane Sandy's destruction in the nation, the historic storm's global impact started days ago in Caribbean nations. In Haiti, the storm has left worries of a food crisis and another cholera outbreak, while the "disaster of decades of policies" by the international community compounds misery.

The "superstorm" pummeled Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and Haiti causing 66 deaths, with 51 of those in Haiti, where there are still 370,000 living in displacement camps.

In the video posted below, earthquake tent camp survivors explain their worsening situation. "No one has brought anything to help us," one man says. "It is though no one knows we exist."

"We are hungry, things for me are bad, our tarp is torn," a woman tells the camera. "It's misery."

Jean Debalio Jean-Jacques, the Haitian agriculture ministry's director for the southern department, warns of a food crisis approaching as the crops that were left after Isaac hit in August and food storage areas were lost when Sandy hit.

"The storm took everything away," Al Jazeera reports Jean-Jacques as saying. "Everything the peasants had in reserve - corn, tubers - all of it was devastated. Some people had already prepared their fields for winter crops and those were devastated."

Al Jazeera adds:

The UN is warning that flooding and unsanitary conditions could lead to a sharp increase in cases of cholera, while aid workers are worried that extensive crop damage will mean that food prices will rise.

Extensive damage to crops throughout the southern third of the country, as well as the high potential for a surge in cases of cholera and other water-borne diseases, could mean Haiti will see the deadliest effects of Sandy in the coming days and weeks.

"Sandy shows that Haiti's real disaster is decades of policies by Haitian governments and the international community"But the devastation in Haiti is not only a force of natural disasters.

Brian Concannon, Director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, states that "Sandy shows that Haiti's real disaster is decades of policies by Haitian governments and the international community that leave the government unable to provide the basic services necessary to reduce its citizens' vulnerability to natural stress."

The Haitian government's plan now, says Alexis Erkert of the women-driven collaborative Other Worlds and the Under Tents international campaign, is forced evictions of camp dwellers. "The government has stated that they will prioritize clearing camps. Indeed, forced evictions are already on the rise, but still with no plan in place that assures Haiti's homeless long-term access to safe, permanent and affordable housing," states Erkert.

The government is instead turning its attention towards foreign investment schemes like the Clinton's massive Caracol industrial park, while providing no path towards housing the hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians.

"The lack of any housing plan -- one that also ensures access to basic services -- while the government is at the same time promoting opportunities for large-scale foreign investment is tragically indicative of the Haitian government and international community's priorities for Haiti.

"International solidarity with the organized movements in Haiti that are calling for a social housing plan is more urgent now than ever," says Erkert.

The storm also has been felt north of the U.S. in Canada. Parts of Ontario, Quebec and parts of the Maritime provinces are now getting hit with heavy rains and winds from the storm, with southern Ontario expected to get hit most severely today. High surf and coastal flooding could be seen in areas.

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Video from Bri Kouri Nouvel Gaye (Noise Travels, News Spreads) seen on the Washington Post: Hurricane Sandy Floods Haiti's Homeless Earthquake Victims Still Under Tents

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