Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fear of diversion in Haiti goods distribution

The distribution of international relief donations to earthquake-stricken Haiti is undergoing so much hurdles due to the absence of a proper system that would allow each needy individual to get his fair share of the much-needed food, water and other supplies to survive. Worse is that there are reports that these foreign relief aids may be taken advantaged of by some corrupt government officials.

The above apprehension circled among members of the diplomatic community in Haiti, who said that international relief aids, consisting of cash and in kind, may end up in the wrong hands, instead of going to the thousands of earthquake victims. Right now, there are lootings everywhere and the local police and United Nations Peacekeeping force, including the American forces, have tried hard to pacify desperate people from engaging in illegal activities.

This has prompted the diplomatic community to suggest of creating an international monitoring committee that will oversee how the international aids are being distributed to the right recipients. However, each time a helicopter loaded with relief goods lands in a chosen site, flocks of people, comprising of adults and children just can't wait but to rush to where the chopper was, if only to get the goods first. But television footages showed that children have been run over by rogue people in a mad scramble to get the goods, oblivious of the hapless children who are often hurt in the process.

It is hard to understand why until now the United Nations had not crafted an effective system that will allow people to toe the line and wait for their turn to get the goods for themselves. In the absence of a proper system for goods distribution, it is likely that many people, particularly children will be hurt, during
distribution efforts by the relief organizations.

Another thing that creates mistrust among members of the diplomatic community is the possible corruption in the distribution of goods to the people. In the past, Hait was observed to have been marked by Transparency International as one of the ten most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 176th among 180
countries. And it seems the recent crackdowns against corruption by current Haiti President Rene Preval didn't give a dent on how to correct the problem which continues to persist. Fride, a European Studies Center in Madrid, reported recently that inflow of foreign aid to Haiti totaled $2,600 million since 1984
but nothing much was done to alleviate massive poverty in Haiti.

Dante Caputo, special advisor to the Secretary of the Organization of American States (OAS) and former head of the UN Mission in Haiti, was quoted by reports regarding his proposal to create a monitoring committee so that international relief aids will be distributed properly to where they should go.

Caputo had suggested that the monitoring committee would be tasked to oversee the amount of aid matches those that are distributed to the proper recipients and ensure that the goods are not diverted to other parties, other than the needy earthquake victims themselves.

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