Haiti’s troubled history could slow down aid for earthquake victims – CBS Miami

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MIAMI (CBSMiami / AP) – Political unrest in Haiti, along with the impacts of Tropical Storm Grace, complicates relief efforts in Haiti.

Nonprofit groups and philanthropy experts claim that last month’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, as well as accusations that the money raised after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti never reached the lowest levels. people in need will make fundraising for the nation even more difficult.

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Art delaCruz, CEO of Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that deploys emergency response teams to work with first responders in disaster areas, said the first briefing of his teams in Haiti and the Dominican Republic with the support teams in the United States was about security.

“The assassination of the president, the almost gang-like existence there, it really increases the risk for organizations like ours that are deploying in this situation,” said delaCruz.

However, Team Rubicon, which was founded in 2010 by Marines Jake Wood and William McNulty in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, has experience on the ground in the country and in similar situations around the world. .

“It’s risky for everyone because the information is incomplete and the situation is dynamic,” said delaCruz. “One of the ways we have a competitive advantage in this area is that we are an organization where 70% of the volunteers are veterans. They saw that kind of environment.

Nate Mook, CEO of World Central Kitchen, also spoke about the need for adaptability. It was Monday in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, to manage the efforts of the nonprofit to fight food insecurity after the earthquake, but found that its transport system was necessary to bring the injured to the hospital.

“We really focused, not only on the food, but also on how we can support our local partners,” he said. “We spent a lot of time here. We know how to navigate the complexities.

Haitian-inspired chef Jose Andres founded World Central Kitchen in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and the non-profit organization maintained a presence there, opening a culinary school in 2015 that is now one of two. bases of operations to provide thousands of meals a day.

“People are hungry and they are desperate, which creates instability and a lot of worry, so we have to work with our partners to provide them with food, to make sure that the food is available,” Mook said. .

Skyler Badenoch, CEO of Hope for Haiti, a Florida nonprofit, said the response was also complicated as its staff were directly affected by the disaster. The organization is now preparing to distribute $ 60 million in first aid supplies and medical equipment to help those affected, he said.

Aid to Haiti has been probed for years and scrutiny intensified in 2015 when a ProPublica and NPR investigation asked where $ 500 million raised by the American Red Cross had been spent.

The American Red Cross said in an emailed statement that it was not seeking donations for aid to Haiti at this time, but would work with its partners, including the Haitian Red Cross and the Crescent. -Red, to respond to the earthquake. He also challenged ProPublica / NPR’s findings.

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“Americans generously donated in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake to save lives – that’s exactly what their donations did,” he said in a statement.

Despite criticism from the Red Cross, Maryam Zarnegar Deloffre, humanitarian aid expert and professor at George Washington University, said she believed donors would continue to rely on the organization because of its reputation.

“It’s been resilient,” she said, in part because the organization is easily recognized by donors for its work with blood drives, and other things.

This time around, Marleine Bastien, executive director of the Family Action Network Movement, a social service organization based in Florida’s “Little Haiti” neighborhood, said her organization would develop a plan to empower every group that collects donations for. Haiti.

“We absolutely don’t want another movie called ‘Where Did the Money Go’? Bastien said, referring to the 2012 documentary that examined donations given to relief efforts in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.

The deadly earthquake struck Haiti at the same time as a growing humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ethiopia and instability shakes Afghanistan. Deloffre, of George Washington University, said she believes the fundraising outlook for the country is bleak.

“Unfortunately, I don’t expect wide global attention to the earthquake in Haiti,” she said. “Or public donations, on the same scale as those we saw in response to the 2010 earthquake.”

Past allegations of poorly spent donations have also created some hesitation, said Badenoch, of Hope for Haiti, although the need following the most recent earthquake may be even more intense.

“It is quite possible that Haiti needs more aid than ever before,” said Akim Kikonda, national representative of Catholic Relief Services in Haiti.

Laura Pendantton, director of annual giving for Catholic Relief Services, said the group, which has worked there for 50 years, is providing all the help they can get. He started distributing emergency supplies on Monday because they had already stored tents and metal sheets there.

“Yes, there have been some bad actors, but not giving because of that is shortsighted,” said Pendantton. “It’s really frustrating because every penny that was given to us for Haiti went to Haiti. There have been gradual and positive changes. And Haiti’s needs are so critical right now.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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