11,000 polling stations in Haiti opened on Sunday, giving the beleaguered population the opportunity to choose between pop star Michel Martelly and former First Lady Mirlande Manigat for president. Preliminary results are expected on March 31 and final certification on April 16 by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). To their credit, both candidates agreed to confine the election process to the ballot box and agreed to ban rallies and declarations of victory or defeat until after the final count, Haiti Libre reports.
For Haiti, it might not matter who wins, but how the new president will address the mammoth challenges facing a nation that suffered a devastating earthquake 14 months ago on January 12, 2010. Haiti is no Japan. As the poorest country in the western hemisphere, there were little resources, leadership, or infrastructure in place to address the aftermath of the catastrophe. Whether Manigat or Martelly is up to the task remains to be seen. Water, sanitation, a cholera epidemic, housing for the displaced, an economy devastated by years of foreign trade policies that all but destroyed Haitian agriculture, and a foreign occupational force disguised as a United Nations humanitarian effort are on the “to do” list.
The International Organization for Migration (OIM) utilized the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ (OCHA) mailing list last week to release a housing report that, if not addressed, promises dire consequences. IOM, or as it was first known, the Provisional Intergovernmental Committee for the Movement of Migrants from Europe (PICMME), was established in 1951 during the population displacement of Western Europe following the Second World War.
The bottom line is that half a million Haitians will be living in “tent” (tarp) cities at least through 2012.
A familiy in a “tent” city February 2011
The emphasis on tarps is mine. After five visits to Haiti since January 2010, there has been little relief in evidence for those living under tattered tarps, frying in the sun, drowning in the rain, and drinking non-potable water.
Filth in the streets and waterways (February 2011)
Although the number of Haitians living in camps appears to have fallen to 680,00, down from a high of 1.5 million in the earthquake aftermath, the lower number does not tell the whole story. Statistics may not exactly lie, but in this case the numbers are an obfuscation of reality.
Living conditions in Port-au-Prince no better than those for animals (February 2010)
Those who have fled the camp crime, including the euphemistically labeled “gender-based violence” (think brutal rapes), filth, and leaking tarps have moved to housing that is no better. Some have taken over abandoned housing in damaged shantytowns, set up tents on rubble-strewn family property, or gone to live with relatives.
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com