On Friday, February 19, the Humpty Dumpty Institute hosted senior Congressional staffers at the United Nations. The delegation (see participant list) was briefed on the most recent developments regarding relief efforts in Haiti.
The day started with a working breakfast at the United States Mission to the United Nations (USUN). The Political, Economic and Social (ECOSOC), and Military sections of USUN all provided representatives to brief the delegation from a U.S. government standpoint. A series of briefings at U.N. Headquarters followed. Mr. Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), highlighted UNDP’s cash-for-work program as part of its Emergency Relief and Recovery Framework with priority given to female-headed households. The program is intended to help jump-start the economy. In responding to questions from the Congressional staff delegation, Mr. Ryan stressed the importance of helping without imposing on Haiti’s self-governance, as well as how imperative it is to work with local NGOs.
David Harland, Director of the Europe Latin and America Division of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping (DPKO) spoke about the goals of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and particularly how such goals have changed as a result of the earthquake, which killed an unprecedented number of U.N. employees. Mr. Harland stated that the focus for MINUSTAH remains d on the security and politics of Haiti. Following the briefing by DPKO, David Kaatrud of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) met with the delegation. Mr. Kaatrud discussed the logistics involved with relief efforts and listed OCHA’s top priorities, which are shelter, sanitation, camp management, especially in flood-prone areas, and rubble removal. He also stated two major obstacles with regard to Haiti relief efforts; that of poor institutional coordination, both in Haiti and at the U.N., and the difficulty of vetting donations for usefulness.
Deborah Saidy and Pedro Medrano Rojas from the U.N. World Food Programme’s (WFP) New York Liaison Office, briefed the delegation following the review by OCHA. The WFP representatives discussed how many people had been reached to date and where. The first objective has been to meet the needs of the population because of hunger and instability. The biggest deterrent has been rising food prices. The other issue discussed was the lack of needs assessment in the initial days of distribution. The WFP is now moving towards a system of targeted distribution.
Ms. Jennie Block, Chief of Staff for the U.N. Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti, spoke to the group on behalf of Dr. Paul Farmer. Ms. Block discussed the office’s purpose which is to help the Haitian government achieve their self-set goals.
The day ended with a working lunch attended by representatives from several NGOs currently present in Haiti and participating in the relief efforts. Representatives from Caritas Internationalis, International Rescue Committee, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Save the Children spoke about the mission of their organization, what they are currently working on in Haiti, and difficulties that they are facing. Issues such as water sanitation, the rebuilding of shelter, the reunification of children separated from their families, and of post-op medical care were raised.
Andrew Bahrenburg Office of Betty McCollum (D-MN)
David Barnes Foreign Affairs Committee, Press Officer
Nina Besser Office of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
James Carstensen Office of Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA)
Gilbert DMeza Office of Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Robert A. Fuentes Office of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Stephanie Gidigbi Office of Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Jennifer Goedke Office of Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
Anna Gonzalez Office of Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL)
Jeremy Haldeman Office of Rep. Russ Carnahan(D-MO)
Jonathan Halpern Office of Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA)
Cara Huang Office of Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA)
Tracy Jacobson Office of Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA)
Siddhartha O. Sanchez Office of Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY)
Cliff Stammerman Office of Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA)
Patrice Willoughby Executive Director, Congressional Black Caucus
Rhodie Margesson Congressional Research Service (CRS)
Maureen Taft-Morales Congressional Research Service (CRS)
Mike Beard UN Foundation
Jordie Hannum UN Foundation
Will Davis UN Information Center
Min Chang US Mission to the UN
NGO Representatives Attending the LunchLorena Bilbao Medicins Sans Frontieres
Görel Bogärde Save the Children
Joseph C Donnelly CARITAS
Gerald Martone International Rescue Committee
Ven. Yi Kung Buddha’s Light International Association
Ven. Miaohong Buddha’s Light International Association