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Sexe scandale – OXAM

The reported sex scandal implicating the nonprofit organization, OXFAM, apparently is not an isolated incident after all. Reports published by the organization Save The Children has revealed that 23 humanitarian, peacekeeping and security organizations have abused children, as young as six (6) year olds in Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire and South Sudan, and that these organizations were informed about the abuses as long as ten years ago. The information, shocking as it is, has been known to officials of these organizations, where sexual exploitation also takes the most cruel form of forcing children into sex in exchange for food. While the report noted that the practice is common among all the aid agencies, current efforts to protect children are inadequate. The report listed several forms of sexual exploitation including, rape, prostitution, pornography, sex slavery, assault and trafficking, as reported by the victims who spoke to investigators. Their refusal at first to report such practices to the authorities is blamed on the fact that they fear their aid may be cut off, officials may not believe them because they have little faith in the authorities and the overall fear that they do not know who to turn to.

The author of the report, Ms. Corinna Csaky of the Save The Children, said that her team made the concerned organizations aware of the report in 2007 during the height of the world food crisis in these regions. Ms. Csaky however refused to name the 23 organizations implicated in the report. One of the local organizations that expressed their disgust and disappointment at Oxfam is the local charity, Solidarity of Haitian Women, La Solidarité des femmes haïtiennes (SOFA) which condemns the acts as reprehensible and against everything they stood for and defended for the past thirty (30) years. That their partner organization is the main culprit in these reprehensible acts is all the more painful for SOFA and could not understand the reason that it took over eight years for this report to come out. This report is an indication of the perils of direct foreign humanitarian aid, which usually takes over in times of a crisis, replacing local organizations in service provision, while they are not necessarily aware of the realities on the ground, the experiences, culture, values and local competence. Aid simply acts as another form of foreign domination. The organization called on the government to bring these entities to justice.

From one bad news to another, Haiti seems to have no shortage of tragedies. Last week’s fire at the market commonly known as gérite has dealt a big blow to a country struggling under the weight of numerous natural and man-made disasters. Two fires in two different markets in less than a week are just simply unbearable and the devastation can be seen on the faces of the helpless women who watched in horror their livelihood wiped away in front of their eyes. The Mayor of Port-au-Prince, Ralph Youri Chevry has since called on the authorities to undertake a thorough investigation into the cause of the fires. Fire fighters with limited equipment tried to contain the fires but struggled for a while before bringing the fires under control after significant damage has been done. The Mayor rejected the hypothesis that the fire at the Iron market, or marché Hyppolite, named after former president Florvil Hyppolite (17 octobre 1889 – 24 mars 1896) under whose administration the original market was built in 1890, was caused by garbage catching fire. As one of the people on the scene, the Mayor wants the police to shed light on what actually happened.

Local Police Commissioner Berson Soljour, confirmed that preliminary inquiry revealed that the fire at the clothing market near the port, was an accident and a welder, Sanon Louis has been arrested at a shop on Rue du Quai, pending further investigation. Mr. Louis has been accused of involuntary arson and the judicial police are currently speaking with him. His negligence and the presence of combustible materials in the marker such as shoes and sandals are believed to have caused the fire. But the rapid response and deployment of security forces prevented any looting at the market.

Last Wednesday, another fire gutted the House of Hope (Maison de l’Espoir) orphanage in Lilavois, in the Croix-des-Bouquets district. The orphanage, located on some 400 square meters of property, has been home to some 48 children and staff who escaped unharmed, after three children were rescued from the flames. The orphanage was opened in January 2010 after the earthquake and has been supported primarily by a France based organization called Calinous d’Haïti, which itself was formed in 2004 by parents who adopted children from the nursery. The orphanage is making an emergency appeal to donors to raise funds to repair the damage to their facility, or rent out another space. Those interested in helping may send their contributions to Calinous d’Haïti, 9, rue du Baron Séguier, 64 000 Pau.

As part of its new politics of feminist international aid announced in June 2017, Canada promised to invest US$150million in the Voice and Leadership program, a program that seeks to fight underfinancing of organization working on promoting women’s rights in some thirty (30) countries across the globe. The initial US$8million to Haitian organizations was announced at a press conference on Monday, at the Canadian Embassy in Port-au-Prince, by Ms. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canadian Minister for International Development and La Francophonie.

Dela Harlley

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