Back to Haiti

A quick update, from the United Nations logistics base by the Port-au-Prince airport.

I will be working for a few months with the International Organization for Migration, which is coordinating the provision of shelter for Haitians, and issue increasingly in the public spotlight.

It is going to be a rapid learning process. The situation is evolving quickly, and there is currently a shift in focus away from the provision of tents – which are a short-term solution, and in short supply – to more durable constructions, sufficient to withstand the oncoming rains. Haiti’s hurricane season begins in June, but lighter rains begin in late February onwards and adequate shelter will be a priority.

A curious sensation coming back; I came via land from Santa Domingo… as I moved in from the border a flood of memories of the life we were building up. There is little time to dwell on such thoughts, however. The UN is still in full emergency mode, and the log base is a hive of activity – a dusty world of tents and makeshift offices, urgent meetings, coordination groups – as well as the arrival of many new people to support the teams who have been working non-stop since the quake. It reminds me a little of my time in Bagram airbase, in Afghanistan in 2002.

Will update soon with pics, more impressions.

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5 responses to “Back to Haiti

  1. marie-france bourgeois

    Mark,

    This is not to be posted, just wanted to touch base with you.

    1. your blog post on Impasse Tulippe was translated in our Cyberpresse in Québec. This photo will stay with me for the rest of my life. Thank you for sharing.

    2. Well done for joining IOM. It is very important and I’m glad that you will be dedicating some time to Haiti.

    3. Sadly, as you may know, today was Alexandra’s funerals in Quebec city as well as Andy’s family in Vermont. Sad sad sad, horrible day. My prayers are with Andy and Alexandra’s family and fiance.

    4. Good luck for you, the UN staff (say hello to Emmanuel Jarry who is at the aiport – husband of Myrta Kaulard – an old colleague) and to the Haitians

    5. Last, Canadiens were the most generous in terms of donations for Haiti, just FYI.

    Best regards,

    Marie-France
    P.S How is your son ???

  2. Nadine (Dewerse) Heywood

    Wishing you well, Mark, as you settle into your new responsibilities in Haiti. I can’t begin to imagine how it will be daunting and heartbreaking for you to see first hand the devastation and it’s impact on the Haitian people that you have grown to know and love as you made Haiti your home.

    I pray that the relief work and the construction of shelters will run as smoothly as possible under the circumstances, and that the homeless will be able to live with less uncertainty and begin to heal from this awful trauma.

    Dorian will be wanting to know what you are doing to help and how he can help too, no doubt. He sounds like a very thoughtful little boy.

    Thank you for your blog updates and best wishes to you, Anna and the children.

    Nadine

  3. Good luck Mark… Haiti is lucky to have you…Have the additional UN policy arrived yet? Is there a need for them now? Are there any lootings?

    • Haitians have, in general, defied expectations by holding together with relatively few security incidents. WFP engaged in a massive distribution today which – despite fears – went ahead with very little incident. This is great news. We hope it will continue – but many more challenges await.

  4. I hope you will keep us posted on what this will be like, what kind of shelter will be provided, how appropriate ti will be and whether the people who will live in it have any say over their conditions. I can’t help but be reminded of the horrible mobile trailers given to so many families in New Orleans after Katrina.

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