Thursday, February 4, 2010

US Aid Reshuffling on Haiti Shows the Need for a Contingency Disaster Fund f...


Sent to you by Zeeshan via Google Reader:


via (title unknown) by Mark Leon Goldberg on 2/4/10

The lead agency in charge of foreign humanitarian assistance is facing across the board cuts to pay for its efforts in Haiti.

The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is the lead American agency on humanitarian relief efforts like the one underway in Haiti. The problem is, it is just one office within the relatively small U.S.


Things you can do from here:


How to Rebuild Haiti


Sent to you by Zeeshan via Google Reader:


via Home on 2/3/10

Picture Credit:

World Bank President, Robert Zoellick, has made a strong statement on Haiti reconstruction and aid. But it remains to be seen what the Bank will actually do after years of negative influence on the islands economy. Zoellick highlights cash-for-work programs so Haitians can themselves be paid for reconstruction of their country. Debt-relief is also mentioned - Haiti is stifled by a debt burden of nearly $1 billion.


Things you can do from here:


Who's paying for Haiti?


Sent to you by Zeeshan via Google Reader:


via The Cable by Josh Rogin on 2/2/10

The State Department and the White House are busily working on a new request for supplemental funding to cover the near and immediate term costs for Haiti relief. But in the meantime, other countries funded by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance are feeling the pinch and being forced to accept big budget cuts.

Consider this email sent to Somali teams working with OFDA funding that was sent to The Cable (emphasis added):

As a result of Haiti there have been some significant budget changes at OFDA that will have a major impact on the Somalia programs," it reads, "As you are probably well aware, OFDA is engaged in a multi-million dollar response in Haiti. As a result, we have had to make all available resources available for Haiti. What this means is that all regions within OFDA are being reduced by 40% resulting in subsequent reductions in planned programming at the country level."

State Department P.J. Crowley told The Cable that the redirection of funds from other countries' accounts was necessary but would not have consequences on the ground unless there is a long delay in receiving supplemental funding, which he said is unlikely.

"This temporary movment of money from the Somalia account to the Haiti account is going to have no impact on the ground in Somalia," Crowley said, "assuming that the supplemental occurs expeditiously."

In an exclusive interview with The Cable, Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew said that although the administration couldn't include Haiti funding in this week's budget request because the crisis came too late, the administration plans to ask for more Haiti relief funding soon. "There will be additional requirements related to the Haiti earthquake," said Lew. "We're working with OMB to come up with both the requirements and a strategy for meeting those needs."

A senior Democratic Senate aide told The Cable that the administration is "expeditiously" preparing a Haiti supplemental that will be separate from the regular and supplemental budget requests given to Congress this week, although no final decisions have been made.

In the meantime, "those places where they have existing or ongoing humanitarian issues are the ones that are having to slash their budgets," the Senate aide said, "That's basically saying there's a hierarchy of humanitarian assistance and Haiti is the most important ... and the other places will have to make due at the moment."

"We've drawn down emergency funds substantially," Lew acknowledged.


Things you can do from here:


Haitians Under U.S. Treatment Are Often Separated From Families


Sent to you by Zeeshan via Google Reader:


via (title unknown) by Sheri Fink, ProPublica on 2/2/10

The U.S. has brought medical services to thousands of Haitians. But a bureaucratic tangle has left some struggling to find loved ones who were taken away for treatment.


Things you can do from here:


Scientologists In Haiti: Volunteers Doing More Harm Than Good?


Sent to you by Zeeshan via Google Reader:


via The Full Feed from by The Huffington Post News Editors on 2/2/10

Gawker spoke to an aid worker who traveled to Haiti in the same plane as a group of Scientologists. He wrote to the website detailing the group's inadequate preparation and potentially harmful practices on the ground.

Among the offenses detailed: wearing inadequate footwear, bringing only money to attempt to buy supplies instead of bringing any food and water on the plane, bringing nobody who spoke Creole, feeding patients who were about to go into surgery.

By the time we arrived in Haiti, after a stopover in Miami, we had missed three landing slots at the airport. Aid agencies -- genuine aid agencies -- from other countries were being turned away, refused permission to land. But we still got a slot straight away. The guy who ran our charter seemed to think that the Scientologists had some real influence with the US Government, who were assigning the slots.

The doctors and EMTs in our party headed straight downtown to start working. The Scientologists had nowhere to go, and nowhere to put up the big yellow tent they'd brought for touch healing people in. They went to the UN, and managed to get on to their list of approved NGOs somehow. That meant they could set up in the UN grounds.

Read the full account on

More on Haiti Earthquake


Things you can do from here:


Why We're Addicted to Disaster Porn


Sent to you by Zeeshan via Google Reader:


via (title unknown) by David Sirota, AlterNet on 2/2/10

We can thank the likes of Sanjay Gupta, Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper -- disaster porn stars with visions of Peabodys and Pulitzers dancing in their heads.


Things you can do from here: