Haiti’s troubled history may slow aid to earthquake victims

Aug 15, 2021, 10:45 PM | Updated: Aug 16, 2021, 4:06 pm
Rice is distributed to residents in Les Cayes, Haiti, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, two days after a 7.2-m...

Rice is distributed to residents in Les Cayes, Haiti, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, two days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the southwestern part of the hemisphere's poorest nation on Aug. 14. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

(AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

              Rice is distributed to residents in Les Cayes, Haiti, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, two days after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the southwestern part of the hemisphere's poorest nation on Aug. 14. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)

Humanitarian aid is flowing into Haiti following Saturday’s deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake. However, the Caribbean nation’s political unrest, as well as an approaching tropical storm, is complicating efforts.

Nonprofit groups and philanthropy experts say the assassination last month of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, as well as accusations that money raised following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti never reached those in need, will make fundraising for the nation even tougher.

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 his teams in Haiti and the Dominican Republic had with 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 to organizations like ours that deploy into this situation,” delaCruz said. However, Team Rubicon, which was founded in 2010 by Marines Jake Wood and William McNulty in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, has experience on the ground in the country and in similar situations around the world.

“It’s dicey for everyone because the information is incomplete and the situation is dynamic,” delaCruz said. “One way we have a competitive advantage on this is we are an organization where 70% of the volunteers are veterans. They have seen this kind of an environment.”

Nate Mook, CEO of World Central Kitchen, cited the need for adaptability as well. He was in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on Monday, managing the nonprofit’s efforts to combat food insecurity following the earthquake, but found that its transportation system was needed to bring injured people to the hospital.

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

Haiti inspired chef Jose Andres to found World Central Kitchen following the 2010 earthquake and the nonprofit has 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’re getting desperate and that creates instability and a lot of concerns, so we need to work with our partners to get them food, to make sure food is available,” Mook said.

Skyler Badenoch, CEO of the Florida nonprofit Hope for Haiti, says the response has also been complicated because its staff has been directly affected by the disaster. The organization is now gearing up to distribute $60 million worth of 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 an investigation from ProPublica and NPR questioned where $500 million raised by the American Red Cross was spent.

The American Red Cross said in an emailed statement that it is not seeking donations for Haiti relief at this time, but will work with its partners — including the Haitian Red Cross and the Red Crescent — to respond to the earthquake. It also disputed the ProPublica/NPR findings. “Americans donated generously in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake to save lives — which is exactly what their donations did,” it said in a statement.

Despite the criticisms the Red Cross has received, Maryam Zarnegar Deloffre, an expert in humanitarian aid and professor at George Washington University, said she believes donors will continue to rely on the organization because of its reputation.

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

This time around, Marleine Bastien, the executive director of the Family Action Network Movement, a social service organization based in the “Little Haiti” neighborhood in Florida, says her organization will devise a plan to hold accountable every group that’s collecting donations for Haiti.

“We definitely do not want another film titled ‘Where Did The Money Go’?” Bastien said, in reference to the 2012 documentary that looked at donations given to Haiti relief following the 2010 earthquake.

The deadly earthquake hit Haiti at the same time a growing humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Ethiopia, and instability is rocking Afghanistan. Deloffre, of George Washington University, said she believes fundraising prospects for the country are bleak.

“I unfortunately do not expect broad global attention to the earthquake in Haiti,” she said. “Or public giving, on the same scale as we saw in response to the 2010 earthquake.”

Past allegations of misspent donations have created some hesitancy as well, said Badenoch, of Hope for Haiti, though the need following the most recent earthquake may be even more intense.

“It is quite possible that Haiti is going to need more help than ever before,” said Akim Kikonda, Catholic Relief Services’ country representative in Haiti.

Laura Durington, Catholic Relief Services’ director of annual giving, said the group, which has worked there for 50 years, is providing whatever help that it can. It started to distribute emergency supplies Monday because they had stockpiled tents and metal sheeting there previously.

“Yes, there have been some bad actors, but not giving because of that is short-sighted,” Durington said. “It’s really frustrating, because every penny that was given to us for Haiti went to Haiti. There has been incremental, positive change. And Haiti’s needs are so critical right now.”

___

The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits. The AP is solely responsible for all content. For all of AP’s philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference in Bangkok, Thailand, o...
Associated Press

Japan enacts law to help Unification Church donation victims

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s parliament on Saturday enacted a law to restrict malicious donation solicitations by religious and other groups, which mainly targets the Unification Church, whose fundraising tactics and cozy ties with the governing party caused public outrage. The South Korean-based religious group’s decades-long ties with Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party surfaced after the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Los Angeles City Council member Kevin de Leon sits in chamber before starting the Los Angele...
Associated Press

Los Angeles council member involved in fight with activist

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles City Council member was involved in a fight with an activist at a holiday event Friday night. The altercation involving Kevin de León occurred at a toy giveaway and holiday tree lighting at Lincoln Park, the Los Angeles Times reported. León said in a statement to the newspaper […]
1 day ago
Workers of the electricity supply company DTEK maintain power lines by cutting off excess branches ...
Associated Press

Ukraine utility crews adapt, overcome after Russian strikes

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Over the grinding wail of a chainsaw pruning trees, Oleh Braharnyk recalls how his crew sprang into action in Kyiv a week earlier to repair power lines downed by Russian missiles and keep electricity flowing to his beleaguered fellow Ukrainians. Braharnyk, an electric company foreman, knows the stakes: Like many others […]
1 day ago
Batool Haidari, 37, talks during an interview with the Associated Press on a train taking her from ...
Associated Press

Afghan academic rebuilds life in Italy, dreams of returning

ROME (AP) — Batool Haidari used to be a prominent professor of sexology at a Kabul university before the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. She taught mixed classes of male and female students, and helped patients struggling with gender identity issues. Her husband owned a carpet factory, and together they did their best to provide a […]
1 day ago
The Shchedryk youth choir performs a Christmas concert at Copenhagen’s Church of the Holy Spirit,...
Associated Press

Ukrainian youth choir defies war with messages of freedom

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — From a dank Kyiv bomb shelter to the bright stage lights of Europe’s theaters, a Ukrainian youth choir’s hymns in praise of freedom offer a kind of healing balm to its war-scarred members. The Shchedryk ensemble, described as Kyiv’s oldest professional children’s choir, were in the Danish capital this week for […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Friday’s Scores

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL= Bishop Kelly 59, Caldwell 16 Centennial 55, Borah 46 Cole Valley 64, Marsing 10 Gooding 36, Wood River 20 Hillcrest 68, Bonneville 43 Jerome 55, Kimberly 39 Leadore 58, N. Gem 12 Nampa Christian 43, New Plymouth 22 Owyhee 52, Middleton 47 Post Falls 65, Sandpoint 55 Potlatch 54, Clearwater Valley 25 […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Haiti’s troubled history may slow aid to earthquake victims