Letter to CBC Vancouver, August 18, 2010: Pakistan and Haiti

Vancouver BC

August 18, 2010

Hello CBC Early Edition, On The Coast,

Your stories yesterday on the flood emergency in Pakistan contrasted the small amount of funds raised to date for relief there to the larger amounts raised in the days and weeks following the earthquake in Haiti. I believe this contrast can be misleading. While it is true that large amounts of money were pledged for Haiti in the post-earthquake period, similar patterns of neglect exist in both countries and explain, in part, the troubling, early signs of inadequate fundraising for Pakistan.

In Haiti, only a small portion of the $5.3 billion pledged by foreign governments, ngo’s and UN agencies to their respective operations in Haiti has been delivered there. And as for the official Haiti Reconstruction Fund, pledges to which account for approximately ten percent of the aforementioned $5.3 billion, only $67 million has been received. Canada, the U.S. and France have not paid a dime to the Fund.

Haiti is in desperate need of construction and earthmoving equipment. Believe it or not, nearly all of the rubble from the earthquake still lies where it was sitting the day after. Large countries such as Canada have failed to provide this equipment and personnel. Likewise for emergency shelter—hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living under scraps of wood, plastic and corrugated metal. The camps where they live lie in pools of stagnant water and waste, with all the accompanying public health menace.

Where is the reconstruction that all the world spoke about in the days and weeks after the earthquake? It is nowhere to be seen. And where is the accountability for all the funds either spent or promised? It is similarly missing, or inadequate.

I don’t believe that the generosity of the world’s peoples will go missing in Pakistan. But what is required is more effective reporting by media of the needs as well as a different kind of international assistance. Solidarity is needed, not just charity. And solidarity must lead to social justice and greater national sovereignty for the affected countries or peoples.

To give an example, Haiti is headed towards a flawed presidential national election on November 28 in which its largest and most representative political party, the Fanmi Lavalas of deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide has been banned by the unconstitutional electoral authority. Nowhere is this news reported in Canada. How can Haiti rebuild without a representative and effective president and national government? What is the purpose of holding a national election if it will only increase division and tension within the country, not to speak of deepening class conflict? Why are Canada and other big powers in Haiti supporting such a flawed process?

Your programs have focused its too infrequent reporting on Haiti by talking to agencies that have a vested interest in promoting their charitable models and that, in turn, present a positive view of their work and of the overall situation in Haiti. It is time for The Early Edition, On The Coast and the CBC as a whole to put on your fifth estate cap and delve more deeply into the troubling stories of disaster relief in Pakistan, Haiti and anywhere else where the patterns of neglect or abuse rear their heads. Generosity among the world’s peoples is not flagging; patience and understanding for seemingly insoluble crises of poverty and underdevelopment are.



Roger Annis

HaitiSolidarity BC