Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Food donations rot in storage in New York while storm victims in Haiti die of starvation

PATRICK FARRELL/Miami Herald via McClatchy-Tribune

Judith Saintilus, 9, holds a worn-down knife she was using to search the mountainside Nov. 21 for beans in Baie d'Orange, Haiti. In the past month, international aid workers and doctors have airlifted 46 children on the brink of death from this southeastern village and neighboring communities to hospitals.

"Food donations rot in storage in New York as children in Haiti die of starvation: Governor Patterson's Timeline for projected delivery of donated storm goods for Haiti storm victims." This is the message that HLLN sent out this week concerning aid efforts for victims of the devastating hurricanes that hit Haiti in quick succession this year. Governor Patterson has accepted responsibility for the interminable delay in the delivery of the collected goods. "The delay was caused by difficulty getting government clearances and coordinating with a contact (Catholic Relief Services) in Haiti to receive the donations and make sure they got to victims, said Paterson spokeswoman Erin Duggan."

The buzz is that politics is playing a big part in keeping the shipments in New York. The situation is that aid agencies are in control of foreign aid to Haiti and the Haitian government as usual, is being cut out of the picture and were not approached directly for assistance, making it difficult for coordinating the massive effort. This situation must change. The Haitian government must assert its right as a sovereign nation; and the foreign aid groups must relent in their need to exercise control over the flow of aid to Haiti.

The Bush administration is not moved by the plight of Haitians after the hurricanes and have refused to provide any transport of the goods to Haiti.

It is regrettable and unproductive that the aid charities are the liaisons in emergency situations. Governments and charities should defer to the Haitian government. NGOs and other charities must stop their monopoly on the flow of aid to Haiti. These aid agencies are being increasingly criticized by Haitians for hindering rather than helping the Haitian people in their desperate struggle to survive under increasingly more difficult circumstances.
For the New York Community concerned about the approximately 77 Tons of goods donated in September, 2008 for the Gonaives/Haiti storm victims, that have, as of three months later, still not been sent to Haiti by New York officials, we can make the following statements:

1. According to Governor Dave Patterson's office, the first package of donated storm goods - approx. 8 tons, left New York via Airline Ambassador by boat and is scheduled to arrive in Haiti 2-weeks from the date of departure or December 23rd.

2. Fed. Express has donated one plane, scheduled to leave this week (by Dec. 13) with approximately 4 tons of food and the contracted recipient for distribution is Catholic Relief Services;

3. The items that are duly packaged and currently ready to be shipped are in storage at Stuart Airforce base.

4. The Federal government DECLINED the Govenor's request for transport. So the remaining bulk of the items donated for Haiti storm victims, an approximate 65 tons of food collected from mostly Haitians living in the Tri-State New York area remains to be shipped once arrangements for transport are made. The bulk of the September Haiti donations - 65 tons - have no transport arrangements, no shipping date.

5. This morning, Dec. 8, 2008, a community hearing was held at the Gov. Manhattan offices on the matter. Reporters where present. But since no press release will be issued on this, HLLN offers the community this brief. Several politicians spoke at the meeting, also attended by the Haitian media we are told, including Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke; Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; NY councilman Matthew Eugene, as well as Governor Patterson.

The contact person on this matter for Governor David Patterson's office is, Khari Edwards, the Brooklyn regional representatives of the Governor.

Ezili Danto/Marguerite Laurent
Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network
December 8, 2008

Visit the HLLN website for New York Gov. Paterson's timeline for delivery of donated goods for Haiti storm victims.

Further reading:
Gov. Paterson apologizes for delayed relief to storm-torn Haiti

Starvation slams Haiti | Kids dying after 4 storms ravage crops, livestock

Haiti: storm victims starve

Haiti aid effort unravels by Mike Thomson, BBC News, Oct. 24, 2008

Ezili Dantò on Help for the Hurricane Victims in Haiti, Sept. 12, 2008


Anonymous said...

It costs $5000 in custom taxes for every 40' container of donations we send to Haiti.

Go ahead and try to ship a container of food into Haiti without paying custom taxes. Once the container is sitting on the docks, the Haitian government will hold you hostage until you pay.

Haiti should be a free port. Let anybody import anything tax free.

thezenhaitian said...

From what I am told, non-profit goods, shipped to non-profit organizations are not taxed.

Term Papers said...

The Haitian government must assert its right as a sovereign nation; and the foreign aid groups must relent in their need to exercise control over the flow of aid to Haiti.

Chloe Long said...

The picture of children dying of starvation shocked me. Boy’s eyes are full of sorrow, he is deprived of his childhood. I am writing a research paper about storms in Haiti at the moment, your post helped me to find the necessary information.

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