|Trafficking fears as Haiti children go
Nations officials say children have gone missing from
hospitals in Haiti since the devastating January 12
earthquake, raising fears of trafficking for adoption
“We have documented around 15 cases of children disappearing
from hospitals and not with their own family at the time,”
said UNICEF advisor Jean Luc Legrand.
“UNICEF has been
working in Haiti for many years and we knew the problem with
the trade of children in Haiti that existed already
“Unfortunately, many of these trade networks have links with
the international adoption market.”
The agency said it had warned countries during the past week
not to step up adoptions from Haiti in the immediate wake of
However, several are fast-tracking adoption procedures
already under way, including Belgium, Canada, France,
Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.
Legrand said the situation was similar to the aftermath of
the tsunami in Asia five years ago.
Trafficking networks were springing into action
immediately after the disaster and taking advantage of the
weakness of local authorities and relief coordination “to
kidnap children and get them out of the country”.
Haiti – From the frying pan
into the fire
Haiti was a country already in trouble before the
recent devastating earthquake struck. It is the poorest
nation in the Western Hemisphere with a per capita income of
less than US$ 800. Unlike impoverished African nations Haiti
is embarrassingly close to enormous wealth. A few hundred
kilometres across the Caribbean Sea is the United States,
the richest country in the world. This proximity has been
both a blessing and curse for this nation of 9 million. Due
to its proximity, for centuries the US has interfered in the
affairs of Haiti and, at least, in an indirect way
contributed to its current impoverished status. Also the
possibility of millions of Haitians coming to America as
economic refugees had compelled the US to at least try and
make this a working State which could sustain its
The dynamics of Haiti changed within a matter of seconds
when its capital Port-Au-Prince was struck by a 7.4
magnitude quake last week. As many as 200,000 people have
died according to the government, and roughly one million
have been made homeless. Much of Haiti’s infrastructure is
in ruins and the world’s international aid community is
bracing itself for a recovery that will take years and cost
billions of dollars.
US $ 1 million loss
Although exact numbers are not known, Haiti’s Chamber of
Commerce estimates that total losses from the earthquake
could reach US $1 billion. President Rene Preval’s
administration is working with the United Nations
Development Programme and other aid groups to restore
electricity and telecommunications, reopen banks, businesses
and money-transfer houses, and to provide at least
low-paying jobs to Haitians desperate for income. To
completely rebuild, the dirt-poor nation will need years or
decades - and billions of dollars in international aid.
Dominican President Leonel Fernandez has said Haiti would
need $10 billion over five years. At the moment the
remittances of Haitians living abroad keep the county
afloat. Totalling $1.5 billion a year, remittances are the
chief source of income in a country where more than 70
percent are unemployed and 90 percent live in poverty.
A nearly-failed state
Before the quake, more than half of all Haitians lived on
less than $US1 ($1.10) a day. Lawlessness was rampant, and
Transparency International last year rated Haiti 168th of
180 nations on its corruption perception index. Two coups
and ongoing political turmoil have long deterred investors,
and last year’s devastating hurricanes wrought havoc. But a
few more optimistic analysts say stability had begun to be
felt under the current President, Rene Preval. Even so,
Haiti was widely regarded as a nearly-failed state.
History has never been kind to this tiny nation.
Historians estimate that at the time of Christopher
Columbus’s first visit to the Americas, the island of
Hispaniola, which comprises both Haiti and the Dominican
Republic, was inhabited by some eight million Taino Indians.
There is not one single Taino alive today, thanks to the
efforts of France, Spain and others who wiped them out as
though they were annoying insects. France colonised what is
now Haiti in the early 1700s. By 1789, Haiti supplied
three-fourths of the world’s sugar. The French accomplished
this feat by importing 29,000 African slaves every year,
one-third of whom died within three years of their arrival.
In 1794, a slave uprising began.
Second independent state republic
Haiti overthrew French domination in 1804 to become the
second independent republic in the Americas after the U.S.
(Haiti’s military victory inspired Napoleon to sell
Louisiana to the United States). It later served as a base
for South American leader Simón Bolívar, providing material
and logistical support in the southern city of Jacmel for
his campaign to liberate the Southern Hemisphere from
Haiti’s sorry history of American occupation; brutal
dictatorial and military rule has marred its relations with
its giant neighbour. Therefore, even at this time of turmoil
the growing US military deployment in Haiti is provoking
mixed feelings. Yet in its most desperate time of need the
Americans have shown that they are capable of enormous
generosity towards a tiny nation. Donations have been
pouring in from private citizens, corporates and the
Government of the US. President Barack Obama promised 100
million dollars for immediate relief and endorsed his
immediate predecessors as UN special envoys for the island
nation to tackle the relief efforts.
Helping on a recovery path
When Haiti was gripped by crisis in 1994, President Bill
Clinton sent troops to restore its exiled president to
power, organised a $2.6-billion international rescue
programme and declared the island nation a top priority of
his administration. Now Clinton has teamed up with former
President George W. Bush on a fundraising programme, they
say, is aimed both at helping Haiti recover from the January
12 earthquake and finally putting the battered country on a
path to prosperity.
The effort also could help make up for the failings of U.S.
policies over 16 years that have been fitful and, even by
sympathetic assessments, made only modest progress.
President Clinton acted in the same capacity after the Asian
tsunami alongside senior President George Bush. In that
effort, the two presidents visited Sri Lanka in the
aftermath of the disaster and helped to galvanize donations
from all over the world for the recovery. Many believe their
experience can help eradicate grievous errors that were
found in the tsunami recovery as a result of the
overwhelming world support: such as the oversupply of
donated fishing boats to tsunami-affected Sri Lanka.
Just as the many games played by world super powers and
colonialists had resulted in the poverty and destitution of
Haiti in their hour of need it is these same forces that can
help this tiny nation to recover. At least after this
disaster the world would rethink its approach towards Haiti
and help the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere lose
that unsavoury title. If that is not to be, the earth quake
will be a bigger tragedy than merely the obvious cost of
life and property.
‘Bomb detector’ maker Jim McCormick arrested
BBC News - The director of a company which sold a
bomb-detecting device to 20 countries, including Iraq, has
ATSC’s Jim McCormick, 53, was detained on Friday on
suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation, Avon and Somerset
police said. He has since been bailed.
It comes after a BBC investigation alleged the ADE-651
did not work.
Earlier, the British government announced a ban on the
export of the device to Iraq and Afghanistan, where British
forces are serving.
McCormick has said the device, sold from offices in rural
Somerset, used special electronic cards slotted into it to
But a BBC Newsnight investigation reported that a
computer laboratory said the card it examined contained only
a tag used by shops to prevent theft.
There are concerns the detectors have failed to stop bomb
attacks which have killed hundreds of people.
The device consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a
hinge on a hand-grip. It does not operate by battery,
instead promotional material says it is powered only by the
user’s static electricity.
The ADE-651 has been sold to a range of Middle Eastern
countries and as far afield as Bangkok.
The Iraqi government has spent US$85m (£52m) on the
hand-held detectors, now used at most checkpoints in
It is understood Iraq paid about US$40,000 for each
device. No Western government uses them.
The BBC has learned the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
has ordered an investigation into the bomb detectors,
expected to report shortly.
The government ban, brought in by Business Secretary Lord
Mandelson, starts next week. - (BBC news)
|India sees terrorism threats
(Wall street jounal) India put its security apparatus on
high alert following intelligence reports of two possible
assaults in the air - one from a plane hijacking, the other
from paragliders, officials said.
Also Friday, the U.K. raised its terrorist-threat level to
severe from substantial, but declined to say why it was
Indian Officials said the Pakistan-based terrorist group
Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind both threats. The group was
responsible for the November 2008 terrorist siege in Mumbai.
On Friday, the home ministry, which is in charge of internal
security, issued a security alert to all airports and
airlines following an intelligence notification of a plot to
hijack a plane.
“We have reliable information of a planned plane hijack
by terrorists. We have advised the civil aviation ministry
to take necessary steps,” said Omkar Kedia, a home ministry
Airport security was tightened following the warning. Sky
marshals were deployed on certain flights and passengers
were being subject to more intense security screening, he
Later Friday, U.K. Bansal, an official at the home
ministry, said: “We have intelligence reports that LeT has
purchased 50 paragliding kits from Europe with an intention
to launch attacks on India.” No other details were
India celebrates one of its biggest holidays of the year,
Republic Day, on Tuesday.
detention plans condemned
(BBC News) - The American Civil Liberties Union has
criticised a recommendation that 47 Guantanamo Bay inmates
should be held indefinitely without trial.
Justice department officials said the men were too dangerous
to release, but could not be tried as evidence against them
would not stand up in a US court.
ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said their detention
would reduce the camp’s closure to a “symbolic gesture”.
The White House said the president did not have to accept
It came as the deadline President Barack Obama had set
himself on his second day in office for closing the prison
camp at Guantanamo Bay passed.
Earlier on Friday, officials said a task force led by the
justice department had recommended that while 35 detainees
could be prosecuted through trials or military tribunals,
110 could be released either now or at a later date.
Scores more bodies recovered after
AFP - Volunteers recovered scores more bodies in
Nigeria’s troubled central Plateau state Friday as the death
toll from inter-religious clashes rose and the army was
ordered to step up security.
Christian and Muslim leaders said the four days of
fighting, which left hundreds dead, had reopened “festering
wounds and unresolved grievances” and posed a challenge to
the country’s dominant faiths.
“This tragic event certainly challenges us all to address
the deep hurts, festering wounds and unresolved grievances
...from earlier episodes,” said Catholic Archbishop John
Onaiyekan and Abubakar Saad, the Sultan of Sokoto, in a
“Our problems are self-inflicted and are well within our
control,” they said.
Christian and Muslim leaders in Plateau State said
previously the unrest owed more to the failure of political
leaders to address ethnic differences than to inter-faith
The bodies recovered Friday were picked up from streets,
houses and water wells in Kuru Karama, a village some 30
kilometres (19 miles) south of state capital Jos, the
epicentre of the clashes.
Many of the victims had been thrown into wells in the
outlying village, the leader of a Muslim aid team said.