Update on Efforts in Haiti
July 12, 2010
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MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. It was six months ago today that one of the most devastating natural disasters in the history of our hemisphere struck Haiti. And during the ensuing six months, a great deal has been done of enormous response by the international community, including the United States, to this unprecedented disaster.
It has been roughly three months since the international community came together at the UN and pledged billions of dollars in assistance, long-term assistance, to the people of Haiti. We thought it was important on the six-month anniversary to bring back our dynamic duo, Cheryl Mills, Counselor to Secretary Clinton, and Raj Shah, the USAID Administrator, just to give you kind of an update on what has happened in Haiti over the course of these six months, also what has not happened in Haiti in terms of significant outbreak of disease. And then the way forward, both politically and in terms of long-term international support and assistance to the people of Haiti.
So we’ll start with Cheryl.
MS. MILLS: Hi, how are you all? I just want to start out just by kind of putting us back in context and then taking as many questions after my colleague Administrator Shah speaks. Let’s just first remind ourselves that on January 12th – well, one, we remember where we were all and how challenging that moment was, and that in that moment Haiti lost about 230,000 of its citizens, which recently, in the assessments that Haiti has done itself, they had initially thought was about 18 percent of their civil servants; they now know it’s upwards of 30 percent of their civil servants who were lost at that time period; 28 out of their 29 government ministries collapsed, and given the set of challenges that they face as one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere, they obviously were in a very challenged place to begin with.
I think there is a lot that’s happened actually in Haiti and there’s still an enormous amount that needs to be done, and I think that’s one of the challenges that we’re going to be confronting now, because we have gotten past the immediate crisis and we are beginning to look towards the long term. And we are in that challenging space between transitioning from the immediate crisis to the long term. That is always challenging in these types of circumstances.
I think in a lot of ways, I’ve been both reflecting back on what had happened in Hache and other places to see where people were at those times, but also to think about where it is that we want to be in Haiti, because those two things are different things. Certainly, if you look back at this time in Hache, you would see that there was lots of conversations about land rights and the challenges that they presented, and we are having those same challenges. I think in Haiti, as people are stepping through what are the best ways to be a good partner to the government as they look at how they can best address the needs that they have, both for housing and for schools and for a whole set of long-term needs, but how they do that in a way that is respectful of and embraces the kind of issues that they have with land and how they step through those in an effective fashion.
In Hache, they were seeing a great deal of inflation. We’ve been fortunate in Haiti; we haven’t been seeing a lot of that, and so we are lucky in that regard. They had a number of folks who were obviously living in temporary shelters and tents. We similarly are seeing the same things in Haiti where we have an enormous number of people who are still living in tents, and the need to move folks from tents to transitional housing is one of the most pressing needs and something that President Preval has asserted his full attention over and his dominion with respect to try and see movement in those places.
We have actually started to see some movement on the building of temporary shelters, but that has really only been in the most recent few weeks that we’ve actually kind of seen the movement. The international community has pledged about 125,000 shelters which will cover about 600,000 people. But the issue is where that land is going to be to be able to move them forward, and how we ensure that all that equipment and the materials make it into the country to be able to stand that up. And I think that’s something that is going to be one of the bigger challenges over the next several months. But the international community is committed, and President Preval has indicated he’s committed, to ensuring that we step through that in a way that actually brings people from the tents where they are to more permanent shelters, if you will, or transitional shelters where they can exist comfortably for three to five years before moving into long-term housing.
The health metrics are actually better in Haiti than they were before the earthquake. That is not necessarily a statement of how great things are, but a statement of some of the challenges – places that Haiti began in. But certainly, as the case is – P.J. just referenced that we haven’t seen an outbreak in major disease, but we’ve also been able to see the kind of vaccinations and other steps taken to be able to provide access to health care that has been enormously impactful and something that we are fortunate for and that we need to keep knocking wood and keep working hard at to ensure we continue to see that.
When it comes down to the things like getting our – the civil servants back at work, having them be paid, and others things, similarly, this is something that Haiti has seen progress on and that is something that Hache, at this time period, that they also were able to see progress on. And so in a lot of ways, we’re tracking in that particular space.
The IHRC, which is the government’s mechanism to able to coordinate donors, has been stood up, and was stood up in relatively record time, actually, given the set of challenges that are there. And that is something that the donor community is going to have to step up to and actually play the role that they have an obligation to play and be good partners in helping to be effective and supporting Haiti’s vision for where it wants to go. And I think that’s going to also be one of the challenges, both in terms of Haiti identifying where it wants to go consistent with the plan that it’s put forward, but also how the international community can actually help make some of those decisions happen quickly and can do that consistent with the vision that they have.
Overarchingly, I think in a lot of other ways, for the United States at least, we have been able to be, I think, a good partner in this period, but we also have to make sure that we are continuing to step up. We spent over half a billion dollars in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, and since March, have been spending on the order of about $178 million that have really been designed to help us ramp up to the enormous amount of aid that will hopefully be coming through the supplemental once Congress passes that to be able to build to our long-term strategy there.
And we have been using the set of resources that we have available to actually help with the degree management that is there to make sure that there’s cash-for-work jobs, and make sure that the rubble removal is going forward in a fashion that’s consistent with where we can provide support to provide seeds and extension services for agriculture; to do school construction and to ensure that we actually had – were able to be a good partner in getting kids back into school; to also work with the local governance – the parliament as well as local officials to prevail, help them re-stand up their lost offices and things of that nature; to do youth services, as well as community stabilizing activities, all of which have been helpful in getting to where we want to go for the long term.
Because once the supplemental passes, and hopefully it passes in it’s consistent form, then we will be on to the long-term investments that we want to see as – in Haiti and to be good partners in both – investing deeply in the areas of agriculture, energy, health, and ensuring that we also are thoughtful about security and rule of law, as well as continuing the programming that we had been doing in Haiti in a way that benefits where they want to be in the future and the set of challenges that are there.
So that’s just kind of a top line overview, and I’m looking forward to questions. But first, I want to turn it to my colleague, Administrator Shah.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Thank you. Thanks, Cheryl. Hello. I would just build on Cheryl’s points to point out that this is an important occasion to remember and honor the sacrifice of more than 230,000 Haitians, and to recognize that this was one of the most damaging and destructive natural events we’ve ever seen.
In response to that, the United States did mount a significant and effective early response. And I would remind us that we were looking at an environment where we were not sure that people in Haiti would have access to food, to water, to shelter. And the International Humanitarian Community, working in partnership with the Government of Haiti, effectively met the food needs of more than 3.5 million vulnerable Haitians, has effectively conducted vaccination efforts that have reached more than a million Haitians, and as a result, has contained any large-scale epidemics, which we had all been concerned about, and is in the process of both providing emergency shelter to more than a million Haitians, but also, as Cheryl points out, working on transition strategies to get people into real transitional housing and to rehabilitate homes so that when safe and when improved, people can return to their normal homes of living.
We, of course, have had some unique successes, I think, in being innovative about trying to solve some of these problems – the effort to use mobile phones and build mobile banking platforms in an environment where more than 90 percent of Haitians don’t have access to formal banking services that way we do here, but do have access to mobile connectivity is an interesting and potential innovation that could really help improve the lives of Haitians.
And just last week, I was in Haiti and had the chance to see some of the home reconstruction efforts. And some of those efforts really do embody what we’re trying to do both with the relief and recovery and the transition to reconstruction. We’ve been working together with the Government of Haiti to train – to identify, first, and then help train local masons and local construction workers to create improved actual cement so that bricks stick together, to improve their technique, to use rebar where possible based on local material and local availability. And as a result, the actual walls that have been reconstructed in some of the homes I visited in the Delmas neighborhood have a protective strength that’s two to three times what the original wall that was damaged had prior to the earthquake.
So our goal in – across every sector is to really help Haiti build back better. And of course, as we do that, we know that we’re facing real, important challenges; the issues of how you remove 25 million cubic meters of debris, which is probably more than 20 times that existed in other tragedies such as the World Trade Center, in an environment that is congested and where infrastructure was challenging to begin with, is a tremendous challenge. And we honor the fact that the Government of Haiti is making some important strides in addressing that.
But like that, there are important challenges. We will continue to stand with the Government of Haiti as a partner for the relief and for the recovery and, as Cheryl points out, for the long-term reconstruction. And I look forward to taking some comments or questions with Cheryl.
MR. CROWLEY: Elise.
QUESTION: Thanks for doing this. I’d like to talk more about kind of the long term and the fact that you have both acknowledged that. Because Haiti didn’t have the infrastructure really in place when this happened, they were kind of a lot – set back a lot more than most other countries were, but it wasn’t just in kind of the actual physical infrastructure, but it was also the infrastructure of government and services.
And while I know you’ve been working very closely with the president’s close aides, I was wondering what efforts – because there was a lot of talk after the earthquake about what you do to make sure that, God forbid, something would happen again to Haiti -- they have the kind of infrastructure of government and services in place that they’re not starting from kind of negative zero if something like this happens again.
So I was wondering more about the kind of building up of government and traditional kind of nation-building type of activities that we’ve talked about –
MS. MILLS: Why don’t I talk a little bit about that, and Raj might want to also just talk a little bit about some of the other specific kind of emergency preparedness and disaster preparedness efforts that we’ve also been doing.
I do think building the capacity of the Government of Haiti is something that all the donors have been very focused on. And so we’re – it began with the words. You’re actually starting to see a lot more now specific investments in how people are actually deploying not only their technical assistance, their people, but also how they are thinking about aligning their money, which I think is very important.
The reality of the challenge is, one, we have – they have lost a lot of people. So certainly as they have started stepping through how they both build back their own ministries, but also how they also leveraged the IHRC to help them move forward plans that their ministries had developed that ultimately ended up in the action plan, we have been doing that in partnership by loaning our own technical expertise to people and actually having them sit side-by-side with folks who are in the different ministries, as well as loaning people to the IHRC so that they are in a place to be able to train as well as help make decisions right now consistent with where the leadership is actually identifying that.
I think the long term for that is going to require not only the kind of investment and capacity-building that means more than just sitting beside somebody and actually doing what they do. It actually means what are the ways that we can provide broader training, broader mechanisms in systems, particularly in the financial area so that they actually have a way to be able to track and maintain not only their revenue, but a whole set of other issues that will make them effective.
It’s going to be, I think, a long haul. I do think that unlike probably in the past where there was a lot more comfort of everybody immediately choosing alternative mechanisms, people are spending an inordinate amount of time trying to think about how do they choose mechanisms that either go through the government or that create cells or coordination centers within the government that allow them to be trained so that they can then transition it exactly to the government. That’s helpful. And it’s a long path. It’s going to be a very long path and there’s going to have to be a lot of recruiting. Because not only do they lose a lot of people, there’s some now new talents that they need to deal with certain challenges that they didn’t have in the past and I think that process also is going to be one that’s going to be a long one and quite challenging.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Great, and I would just add a few thoughts. One is that our teams have been working with the government on preparedness; preparedness for rains, preparedness for hurricanes, for flash flooding, which we know on an annual basis has a tremendous negative impact on both Port-au-Prince and Gonaives and other cities in Haiti and other environments in Haiti with the mudslides and rainfall.
So we’ve been working on a planning effort. We’ve been working on shared prediction efforts. We’re sharing data to make sure that people have access to information, understand the risks. In addition to that, the humanitarian community working together has essentially prepositioned food, medicines, a variety of other shelter equipment, tarps, et cetera in places that we consider high risk.
We’ve moved – in some cases where we thought people were particularly vulnerable to floods and to water-borne illness, we’ve moved about 7,500 people from very high-risk dwelling settings to other safer sites and settlements. And as part of our work in Port-au-Prince, we’ve really helped – working with the government and working to remove quite a lot of rubble – have essentially cleared the canals and the drainage systems in both Port-au-Prince and in other areas like Gonaives back to a higher than pre-earthquake level of performance. And the idea there is, of course, to have mitigation measures in place so that when these natural events do arise, they have less of a harmful impact on the population.
QUESTION: Just a quick follow for Cheryl. I’m assuming – and Raj, if you want to take it – I’m just assuming that there are new mechanisms in place for accountability of aid, because that was one of the complaints of the aid to Haiti over the last several decades, that we gave all this money and we didn’t know where it went. And maybe this is a little different this time, because there is so much involvement of the U.S. with your –
MS. MILLS: Well, there’s two ways to think about that. We also gave a lot of resources, but we weren’t always able to measure our own outcomes. And that’s one of the things that both with Administrator Shah’s arrival, but also the Secretary’s identification as a critical issue, is we need to be able to track the outcome specifically. So all of our programs are being designed from the very beginning with what are the outcomes that we want to measure, how is that going to actually change somebody’s life, and then how consistently are we going to measure that over time?
So that is actually one of the design differences that have been happening. And Administrator Shah was just down in Haiti last week and spending time talking through exactly those types of monitoring and evaluation frameworks, because we need to be able to test what we’re doing ourselves.
The other piece of this that I just also wanted to add is, in addition to the kind of emergency preparedness, there are also certain other preparedness or investment and capacity that we are building into the long term, those that actually deal with the paraprofessionals in the health arena. We are actually going to be spending a fair amount of our resources in training paraprofessionals and new professionals who are going to be dealing with disability and a whole set of other issues that they might not have in the past.
Similarly, as we step through the agriculture investments that are being made there, a lot of that is going to be addressing some of the losses that were done at the university that had to do with their agriculture professionals, but also how we also build through the extension services and other ways in which we are building the skills of other individuals who can, hopefully, increase the productivity and the marketability of their goods. So there’s a lot of places where we also have just decided that a lot of our training and investment is going to go into the sets of individuals who, long term, are going to have to be responsible for the sustainability of these programs, because one, they’re being designed that way from the beginning, and two, it’s going to be the best long-term investment we can have for the reduction and the kind of assistance that they need.
QUESTION: Thank you.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: I guess I’ll just get to – I’ll just make the point that the program design and evaluation piece is very important, and so thank you for raising it. And what I’d add to Cheryl’s comment is that in almost all of our big programs, we will specifically collect baseline data so that we can track progress against a real quantitative baseline. That’s how we knew, for example, that the diarrheal illness rate in Port-au-Prince had fallen to more than 12 percent less than pre-earthquake levels because we had worked with CDC and the Ministry of Health to put in place a 52-site sentinel data system that brought in case data and let us make those kinds of judgments and evaluations.
So I think that it’s important the whole international community and the Government of Haiti really prioritize that. We’re doing that. It takes a little more time, but it’s part of getting it right and it’s worth spending that time now doing it.
MR. CROWLEY: Mary Beth and then Kirit.
QUESTION: I take your point about the food situation seems stabilized; the medical situation the same. It seems like the real urgent problem right now is housing, and with the land disputes that have cropped up and with the slow pace of rubble removal that that’s a real problem. What – are you changing, altering your plans or do you see ways to address those problems?
MS. MILLS: Well, it’s – I’m going to take that in two steps, and I know Raj obviously will want to add to this as well – is there are not new land problems, unfortunately. There are long-existing ones in Haiti because land has always been an issue in Haiti, both in terms of ownership of land, the ability to be able to have your ownership recognized in a fashion that will allow you to either get a mortgage or get a loan, as well as who actually owns rightful titles of the land. In many instances, multiple people might have titles of the land.
So we started in a place where land was already a fundamentally kind of talismatically changing construct. The government has exercised eminent domain over certain swaths of land that do allow for the opportunity for the building of transitional housing. The real issue will be – is the designation of where those specific spaces are within the swaths of land that they’ve identified and how to do that in a way that is planned so that, in the long term, people aren’t in a place where they don’t have access to either services, jobs, schools, and the things that they need, and how we coordinate that in a fashion so that as people make investments, they make it in a way that ultimately is going to be sustainable. Otherwise, you’re just living in the middle of nowhere without the best systems of transportation to be able to address that.
I think this is a very big challenge. I think this is the area that the international community has been most pressing. It is the thing to which President Preval has dedicated his full attention. He established a presidential commission on IDP resettlement that is solely focused on how do we go about identifying where these transitional housings should go, what the priorities are to move people there, and how do we incentivize people to do that. That – it has been, I think, a slow pace. I mean, when people are living in tents with running water on their feet, it’s always slow, but I think it’s one of the things that we’ve started to see movement in in the last couple of weeks, both in the designation of specific open spaces where transitional shelters can be built, as well as in the identification of how to start stepping through the incentives.
But I do think there’s a lot more that has to be done in there to be able to see the kind of movement and the kind of pacing, because we really need to be on a pacing of building a fair number of these transitional housings a month. We’re not on a pace yet to do that and I think it’s going to be complicated and I’m hoping that, as the muscles get exercise for decisions to be able to help move things forward, it will also help make easier some of the other decisions that need to be made about land and use of those lands to get more transitional housings put up.
The other thing that has also been identified is the way in which to think about all the existing houses that people can go back in. A lot of people are not excited about being back in some of their homes, which is totally understandable, but there is a fair number of houses that – 79,000, really – that people can move back into. And what has not happened is people moving back into what are called greenhouses, houses that have been adjudicated as safe for people to move back into. We’ve got to get people to a place where they would feel incentivized to be back into those houses, just as we also need to make repairs in some of the other homes where there’s about 50,000 or so that you could repair them and get people back into those houses as well.
That effort is going to be critical because it opens up a whole new set of homes that people can return to without having to deal with the same set of land issues of needing either open space or clearing of space.
Any more, Raj?
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: No, I think that covers it.
MS. MILLS: Okay. Got it.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Good.
MS. MILLS: Okay. Got it. Sorry, I have a meeting with the Secretary shortly.
QUESTION: You sort of touched on it a little bit, but I do want to ask you kind of directly – both of you have had some praise for President Preval, but in fact, both on the island and abroad, he’s been criticized for what some called a weak and ineffectual response to creating a plan that could be implemented, one that would allow the donors to feel comfortable releasing a lot of their funds. Can you tell us a little bit about how you’re going to work with the president and his government to create that plan that you feel can be pushed through and that will allow donors to feel more comfortable about donating or releasing some of the funds that they’ve pledged?
MS. MILLS: So I’m going to speak from the standpoint of just the U.S., because obviously, I have much better knowledge in that regard. Two things: One, they do have a plan. So it’s not the plan that’s the issue. Obviously, these plans now need to have detailed implementation plans associated with their overarching vision, and that is one of the things that, in some of their ministries, they have. The Ministry of Agriculture has a very detailed plan. So does the Ministry of Health. Some of them do not. And so to the extent you’re investing in one of those other areas, you have a set of challenges there to make that those get stood up.
I think for us the key issue is going to be able to be able to ensure, one, that we’re completely aligned with our plan; two, that through the IHRC and their ministries there is understanding of what we’re getting ready to do and how we need to do that, and making sure that we then get specific approvals that we might need. For example, we need approval for a prison that we have indicated we would provide for women so that there was a better place for women who have to, for some period of time, be incarcerated. We don’t have the titles of that. That’s one of the things that we’re going to want to make sure we step through, because we’re not going to build – ultimately going to belong to somebody else.
I do think that’s going to be hard, but I’m not worried about the ability to identify what our needs are going to be. What I spend more time worried about is making sure we get timely decisions in response to that, and that’s one of the things that I think the IHRC, when it’s fully staffed, will be able to help enormously with, because they will review plans, ask all the technical questions, and then be in a position to reach into the ministries to the partnership that they have there to say this is ready to go and we are signing off on this to go forward. That process, I think once it gets up and moving, will help a lot of the donor money be able to be moved forward while the ministries themselves are able to continue working on projects that they have been working on so that we are not completely overloading the diminished capacities that are in their ministries with the loss of a lot of the civil servants.
QUESTION: A different one if we could follow up also, just on another issue that I asked you about, about five months ago, I guess, during one of your earlier briefings, and that’s on the question of local procurement. As we’re looking forward now, now six months on, I’m kind of curious what your plans to transition to local procurement so that they’re not living hand-to-mouth and you start rebuilding some of these chains of commerce down on the island.
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: That’s a great question. With the amounts of assistance that will go into Haiti if donors live up to their pledges, and we expect all donors and certainly the United States is prepared to do so, that’ll be an important economic boost to the Haitian economy if procurements are done in a way that are transparent and allow for access by local firms and local partners. The example I gave of using local construction firms to really help do the donor-funded reconstruction of homes that can be rehabilitated if proper techniques are used is part of getting that right. One point – and we will prioritize local procurement and using local firms wherever possible across all of our portfolio areas.
The one thing I will say is sometimes that takes an extra step of qualifying or prequalifying certain firms, of ensuring that effective auditing and transparency systems are in place, because we have an absolute priority to protect the sanctity of every dollar, and making sure that firms have the capabilities to implement programs to, essentially, code. So in some cases, you’re actually training partners on how to reconstruct homes in a way that meet certain standards and certain codes.
But those are all things we’re prepared to do, and even if they take a little bit of time, we believe they’re worth doing. And it’s part of why it’s important to recognize that to get this right it might take some time to find the right partner, set it up in the right way, but the priority should be on achieving the outcome as opposed to, say, the pace of program disbursement or metrics like that, because ultimately, this is a unique opportunity to build back better and we will miss the opportunity if we don’t get this right.
MR. CROWLEY: Andy and then Charlie, and then I think we have to wrap it up.
QUESTION: A quick one just on preparations for the November 28th elections. I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about that, what challenges there are. I know President Preval has rejected Senator Lugar’s suggestion that there be more international participation or contributions into the election commission. And I’m wondering, do you think that they are setting things up or are we on track to get something that will be a credible election, do you think, or are there challenges there?
MS. MILLS: Well, I --
MR. CROWLEY: Charlie, do you want to raise your question, then we can --
QUESTION: Okay. My question is about children. Can you give us an – we spent a lot of time in the couple weeks afterwards about adoptions and kids and lost parents and parents who had been killed, and can you bring us up to date on where that stands?
MS. MILLS: Sure, I think we can both try to do that, too.
On elections, so we are on track to have elections on at least November 28th. That is what the target is for both the parliamentary and the presidential elections. I think there are a set of needs that are important to be met to be able to have credible elections, and most particularly to have the Haitian people feel comfortable with the outcome and have leadership that will ultimately be responsible for an enormous task, which is continuing the vision of the future for Haiti but rebuilding it.
Certainly, from our standpoint, some of the things that we want to be able to see that we are working with President Preval and his administration to be able to see is, one, we do want to see high-level observation. Why? Because we actually believe as a practical reality there’s going to be a need for high-level, sustained, and larger observation than has been in the past, given the set of challenges that are around both reconstructing and pulling together the identification cards and the voter list, as well as ensuring that the polling places and other things are either at a place where people can actually operate effectively or, to the extent that they’re not, it’s identified early enough so that alternatives are. So we actually would like to see a very sustained, long-term, large observation team that’s in there.
Secondly, I think the other thing that we’ve been spending a fair amount of time is about the technical assistance we would like to see to the electoral council. It’s called the CEP. We actually need – they need – people need to be embedded in the CEP, as they have in the past. We believe that there’s probably a need for more, given the scope of challenges, to be able to ensure that the CEP has the assistance that they need, the support that they need, as well as are able to identify spaces where they feel like they’re not getting the kind of resources that they might need to be able to be effective.
We have certainly indicated that we are going to participate by supporting the elections and participating and ensuring that we support MINUSTAH, which provides a lot of the logistical and security support, as well as the set of other things that we have historically provided, which includes technical support, contributions to the observation teams, ways in which we ensure civic engagement and that civil society actually has their voice heard and that other political parties have the chance to participate in the process.
I think the things that are also going to be interesting for me, at least, to observe is to see how the CEP chooses to organize itself both with respect to its bylaws – there are a number of bylaws that it can make choices with respect to. The election that produced President Preval made a clear distinction between the CEP’s role of being judge and jury of whether or not things acted appropriately and the management role, where there was somebody who ran the elections. So the person who ran the elections didn’t evaluate whether or not they did a good job; the CEP did. I’d like to see that bifurcation again. That line got blurred in subsequent elections since the last presidential election. I’m hopeful that that’s something that we will actually end up seeing. And if we don’t, I think one of the things we’re going to want to ensure is that we have the right levels of observation to be able to ensure that that bifurcation of at least responsibilities occurs consistent with the way that it should.
I also think that it’s going to be critically important to ensure that the different parties have the opportunity for their voices to be heard. Obviously, foreign – the foreign governments are not in a position to be able to support other elections any more than they can in our country, but one of the things that we do want to be able to ensure is that people do have the right opportunity for their message to be heard. I think all of those challenges, in addition to the set of challenges that are associated with just standing up an election are going to be being stepped through over the next several weeks and months, and we’re going to be very involved participants in ensuring that, to the extent we can, we are supporting the best opportunity for the Haitian people to be able to see an outcome in the elections that’s consistent with fair and credible ones.
QUESTION: The children. Children.
MS. MILLS: Why don’t you go ahead and start and then I’ll --
ADMINISTRATOR SHAH: Well, I would just say on children, child protection and child welfare is an important priority across pretty much everything we’re doing in Haiti. And so when you look at the pre-earthquake statistics of more than 40 percent of kids being malnourished, or if you look at the percentage of kids in school and that have access to safe places to have water or sanitation, these are all the types of things we’re focusing on in our relief program and our recovery program. And the opportunity to rebuild the Haitian agriculture sector and to do it in a way that focuses on nutrition programming for children, the opportunity to reconstruct school feeding programs in efforts to reach children in a targeted way with food, with clean drinking water, and with disease, protection, and control really will make a huge difference in child welfare for the entire population. And it’s been a main focus of the ministry. It’s a main focus of much of our program.
MS. MILLS: And the only other thing I’d say on orphans, as we have looked back to see where we ended up with the orphans that were identified as meeting the criteria to be able to be paroled out of the country, we ended up with somewhere around, I think, 1,150 children who ultimately ended up being successfully placed with families who had either been in the adoption process – there was about seven hundred and some of those kinds of kids who were already in the adoption process who were destined for an American family and there were about four hundred and some kids who were identified as adoptable pre-earthquake, and therefore met also the standard to be able to be adopted out of Haiti. And so we did, through a special humanitarian program, end up seeing about 1,150 to 1,200 kids who ultimately ended up being successfully placed. We are now back to the pre-earthquake process for paroling children for adoption and that process has been working consistent with the paradigm that they had in place before.
QUESTION: So have there been any cases lately or in the last month or two that people have been watching of smuggling or people that were stopped from smuggling kids?
MS. MILLS: So, yeah, I totally forgot about all that.
QUESTION: Yeah, right.
MS. MILLS: Wow, it’s taking me back. But we have not had any recent reports in that regard, so – but thank you for asking. It takes me right back down memory lane. But we haven’t had any recent reports of that. And actually the process has been working relatively well; a little bit faster than what it had worked in the pre-earthquake period. Thank you all very much. I appreciate it.
[This is a mobile copy of Update on Efforts in Haiti]
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