Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

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Child Trafficking or Incredible Cultural Naivete?

February 2, 2010

The current situation involving the 10 jailed members of the Southern Baptist Convention religious organization has a number of root causes. First and foremost, what I like to believe was a well intended group, the cultural ignorance shown by the religious group was pretty astounding.

Not only did the group attempt to move roughly thirty children across an international border without any of the proper paperwork (this in a country that suffers from the blight of real human traffickers), but the most recent development about yesterday’s postponed court date highlights the fact the group embarked on their overzealous mission without possessing an ability to speak French!

Basically, the group ignored any and all cultural, legal, and communications issues. Geeze!

How the situation will evolve and what the outcomes will be is anybody’s guess–as well intended as the group may be their naiveté borders on arrogant indifference. At first blush I thought this might be a case of corrupt Haitian officials making a mountain from a molehill—but the facts are otherwise. This group, whether inadvertent or properly intended, are in real trouble—and unfortunately they should be. Any thought or preparation about what the group might need to succeed in their international endeavor would surely have served as a harbinger.  It’s way too late, but a copy of my book would have certainly kept them from this fate.

Now, I alluded to other causes and they certainly are there. This group’s fervor and zeal was most certainly stoked by the hopelessness and ‘blame oriented’ media coverage beamed out by the likes of Anderson Cooper, and others:

Instead of the coverage recognizing the insignificance and futility of man’s abilities in the face of nature’s awesome—and at times awful—power, there was the wringing of hands over what was inferred as ‘avoidable’ delay and mismanagement of the Haitian rescue effort. There have been many stories from knowledgeable media sources about this ‘blame’ phenomenon and the resultant well doers—like our Southern Baptist group, spurred to ineffectual action, that actually cause more harm while desperately intent on trying to do good.  

Let’s remember, there is no evil at work here—nothing like the needless human tragedy that continues to exist in Darfur.  In Haiti, there are thousands of trained, professional disaster relief personnel struggling to do their very best in a place that is a ‘perfect storm’ of obstacles and challenges.

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Haiti Needs Our Help; But Let’s Keep the UN Far Away from Donations.

January 16, 2010

Haiti 7.0 Earthquake Aftermath

I had just arrived in Dubai when I saw the news about the devastating earthquake in Haiti (it’s always interesting to hear foreign viewpoints on breaking world events).  Having been in Haiti and being in the logistics business, I knew the poor infrastructure in Port-au-Prince would present severe challenges to the relief effort; both sea port and airport are tiny with most roads small and poorly built–leaving them almost impassable in the best of times.    

With rubble everywhere and extensive damage from the 7.0 quake, as I listened to that the very first report, I knew that the roads were going to make the logistics of both search and rescue and disaster assistance very, very difficult.    

Later in the week I was in London watching the now 24 hour Haitian earthquake relief coverage when I was presented with a visual oxymoron–two mutually exclusive concepts occupying the screen simultaneously.  Sky News was showing an interview with the Haitian musician and actor, Pras, who (from what I could gather) was in the United States to join forces with a watchdog group that has been set up to make sure that all donated monies will go directly and completely to Haiti. As Pras was speaking, a news scroll presented the oxymoron and diverted my attention.   

The news scroll at the bottom of the television screen announcing:  United Nations (UN) appeal for 560 million dollars for Haiti. Okay, now I believe everyone should try to give as they are able to the Haiti disaster assistance, but I think donating to any UN organization should be the last thing a person should do!  My personal experience is limited, but my company was one of the first to stumble into chilling evidence in Iraq of the UN’s intricate complicity and outright collaboration with Saddam’s goons in the multi-billion dollar Oil for Food scam. I’ve also personally witnessed UN staffers more than double the cost of a major US Government operation with effortless chicanery.     

In the September 2005, when the last report of the Volcker Commission Oil for Food Program Report came out it stated that the UN needed thorough reform–and it needed it urgently. The Report also went on to estimate that perhaps one-third of all UN contracting activities were compromised by corruption. Using that guideline and my experience means that about half of any 560 million dollar UN fund will be wasted–WASTED (Pras certainly will need a lot of help here).    

People need to remember that since the special UN anti-corruption unit, called the Procurement Task Force, was established in 2006 it has uncovered many, many other major schemes within the UN.  A recent AP article, by John Heilprin (Jan 12, 2010, “UN cuts back on investigating fraud“) lays out the ugly, troubling facts about the UN disbanding this unit leaving the reader with the inevitable implied conclusion that the UN is returning to its old corrupt ways with a flourish.   

There are a lot of excellent charitable organizations out there; The Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, The Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund, and many others.  Even if we all give to one of these fine charities we will never be able to erase the horrendous memories or incalculable grief suffered by the Haitian people, but we will be able to help put country of Haiti back on its feet even better than before.    

There is one thing that I do want to impress upon though:  Let’s stick together and keep the UN from pulling in any money that will “supposedly go” to the Haiti Earthquake Relief effort.