Entries in Port-Au-Prince (6)


Emily Poses Severe Flooding Threat to Fragile Haitian Camps

ABC News Radio(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- The island nation of Haiti awaits the former tropical storm Emily, which has been downgraded but still threatens to cause flooding.

The Haitian government has warned citizens to go home and take shelter. There are plans to evacuate homeless camps, where upwards of 600,000 people live in tents.

Within such camps there is no running water, food is severely rationed, and many residents share a single latrine. These camps are currently facing the biggest threat since the earthquake, in 2010.  

Forecasters are predicting anywhere from eight to 20 inches of rain.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ex-Haitian Dictator 'Baby Doc' Led Out of Hotel By Police

Photo Courtesy - Mario Tama/Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- Just days after his surprise return to Haiti, former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was led out of a Port-au-Prince hotel by heavily-armed police.

He is expected to be charged with crimes allegedly committed during a brutal regime that ended with his ouster 25 years ago. A government official told ABC News the one-time dictator would be arrested for "heinous crimes against the Haitian people."

Armed policemen, a judge and the country's senior prosecutor arrived at the Karibe Hotel in Port-au-Prince, where Duvalier has remained holed up since his return from French exile on Sunday. Hours later police led him out of the hotel.

Despite previous warnings that a return to Haiti would result in arrest, Duvalier arrived Sunday with a diplomatic visa and a perceived understanding from Haitian President Rene Preval that he had permission to return "like any other Haitian citizen," according to a source in the president's office.

Human rights groups have been clamoring for Duvalier's arrest, citing allegations of flagrant corruption and a lengthy reign of terror that began when his father Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier first seized control of the island in 1957. "Baby Doc" Duvalier who came to power in 1971 as the 19-year-old heir.

Since his ouster in 1986, Baby Doc has lived in exile in a lavish villa in France.

It is unclear why Duvalier chose to return to Haiti now, a year after a devastating earthquake and in the midst of a deadly cholera outbreak and political deadlock. Many observers speculated that the former dictator hoped to exploit the instability and the millions of Haitians too young to remember his brutal regime.

With more than 1 million people left homeless after the earthquake and another 3,500 recently dead from cholera, some Haitians may be nostalgic for the stability that Duvalier brought the country; even if that reliability came with death squads and reckless corruption.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


One Year After Haiti's Quake: Rubble Clogs Capital, Cholera Babies

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti) --  One year after a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, its capital, Port-au-Prince, is hard at work trying to rebuild itself.

Projects create dust on every street corner, but many are privately funded and done piecemeal, often using the same rusted rebar that failed Haitians the first time.

It is estimated about 700 million-cubic-feet of rubble have yet to be cleared, enough to fill six Superdomes.  Only 10 percent of the rubble has been removed.  It is Haiti's biggest challenge, Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerieve told ABC News Wednesday.

The prime minister said the bulk of the rubble cleared -- enough to open most of the city's shattered  streets -- was paid for by the government, although most of the removal ABC News has witnessed in four trips over the past year resulted from private initiatives -- most often Haitians using shovels, picks and buckets.

Aside from rubble, the country is still facing many other challenges.

Bellerieve told ABC News the government has revised its previous estimate of the death toll from 230,000 to 316,000, meaning about three percent of Haiti's entire population died.

Haiti has yet to elect a new president, and it's voters continue to wait for the results of the disputed Nov. 29 elections.  The runoff for the three putative front runners -- the wife of a former president, with scant political experience, a former hip hop star, and a government anointed successor with a checkered past -- has been postponed to March, all under the threat of violence.

Following the quake, Haiti was hit by Hurricane Tomas, rekindling a cholera outbreak that claimed the lives of over 3,600 people.  Pregnant women and their newborns are still fighting and dying from the infection, and only one full service maternity hospital, run by the emergency relief group Doctors Without Borders, exists in the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Airlines Cancels All Flights to Haiti Amid Election Protests

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) – American Airlines has cancelled all flights between Port-au-Prince and the United States due to violence that has erupted over elections.

Thousands of protestors on Wednesday rampaged the city and ransacked offices of the ruling party, INITE, after its candidate, Jude Celestin, advanced to the second-round runoff. Chants of “Hang Celestin” can be heard throughout the city.

Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly did not make the second round, as he trailed Celestin by only 6,800 votes. It is believed that Martelly supporters set fire to an INITE office where guards allegedly shot protestors.

On Election Day, Martelly along with 11 other candidates called for an annulment of the vote over concerns of fraud.

Both the U.S. and the United Nations have questioned the election results.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Little Has Changed Since Haiti Quake, Aid Workers Blame Corruption

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti) -- Port au Prince is a city frozen in Jan 12, 2010. Haitians refer to the earthquake as "the 12th." No other description is necessary. How could something so evident everywhere you look be forgotten? Incredibly, life goes on: children go to school, markets are packed, there's even evidence of a few repaired homes. But if there's a pervading architectural theme, it remains: destruction.

Life goes on, but the city looks the same. These days the destruction seems invisible to Haitians, but screams out to visitors. Bacteria, wind and time have carted off the stench of rotting bodies, but no one has taken away all the debris. The presidential palace remains a sandwich of roof and ground floor -- everything in between now mashed inside.

There has been little progress. The UN has built fewer than 18,000 temporary shelters and about 150 permanent structures since the quake.

Some of the 1.3 million living in tent cities partly administered by the UN live better now than before. They now have access to clean water, latrines and often some sort of medical care. Those who live in the fetid slum called Cite Soleil, have little or no clean water, little food, almost no access to medical care, and essentially live in sewage every time the canal overflows. Many eat a single meal every day or two.

Why so little progress? International aid workers blame Haiti's red tape and the scattering of those with experience and corruption. Many government bureaucrats were killed in the quake, many of the survivors who could afford to do so left the country, and others who stayed took much more lucrative jobs with the non-government organizations.

And all of that now has a direct impact on the cholera epidemic. The government estimates there are now about 10,000 cases in Haiti, and about 650 deaths. The Haiti Epidemic Advisory System estimates there are likely 50,000 Haitians with cholera now, and thousands of deaths. Some are unable to get to clinics. The survival rate for those who receive treatment is 99 percent. The survival rate for those who don't is only 40 percent.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Defiance Before the Storm: Haitian Refugees Refuse to Flee

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- A powerful hurricane is inching its way toward the vulnerable tent cities that surround Port-au-Prince, Haiti. But many of the residents who lost their homes to the devastating January earthquake are refusing to budge this time, even physically ejecting aid workers from their ramshackle camps.

Hurricane Tomas, a Category 1 hurricane with winds whipping up to 85 miles per hour, is due to make landfall on the western end of the island nation where rain is already flooding parts of the country. The storm's outer bands are expected to pound its capital city, which was leveled less than a year ago in an earthquake that killed an estimated 250,000 people and left millions homeless.

Government aid workers used bull horns and leaflets to warn more than a million tent city residents to leave the refugee camps for safer grounds Thursday, but were driven away by the people they attempted to help. There was no real violence, but frustration was evident as people broke equipment and slammed debris on the ground. The crowd booed, trashed the tables and chairs the workers had brought with them, even ripped up the blue and orange bracelets the workers had hoped would mark the evacuees.

Health officials fear that the death toll could rise, not only because of the direct effects of the hurricane, but because the storm will cripple efforts to stem an outbreak of cholera. Haitian health clinics have been battling a cholera outbreak for weeks, with more than 3,000 reported cases and nearly 300 resulting deaths.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio