Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Haiti and Having Babies

The maternal mortality rate in Haiti is the highest in the Western Hemisphere. The maternal mortality rate is 523/100,000 women. What this means is that during pregnancy or within six weeks of delivery, 523 of every 100,000 women who have babies die in Haiti. The maternal mortality rate in the United States is 7/100,000. Black women in the United States have a maternal mortality rate of about 20/100,000.

The excess deaths are due to poverty, structural violence, and fear of being shot. With these three factors discouraging care, Haitian women do not receive adequate prenatal or perinatal care and die from complications of delivery such as bleeding and infection, and eclampsia.

Doctors can help with bleeding, infection, and eclampsia but need to do much more in preventing these complications by addressing the real issues that allow these medical complications to kill their patients. That is the frightening part for physicians around the world and the part we never learned in medical school or residency.


Chevalier was born with congenital heart disease. She needs surgery as soon as possible.

Are we going to ignore her?

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Myrtha is 24 years old and lives in Port-au-Prince. She has valvular heart disease from rheumatic fever. She lives in a state of congestive heart failure because too much blood gets trapped in her lungs. She is very short of breath when she exerts herself.

Her family would like her to stay alive and so would she. And when I told her that I have been unable to find a hospital in the United States to accept her for heart surgery, she told me to keep praying.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Slipping in Soleil's Mud

Cite Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
February 15, 2007

Slipping in Soleil’s Mud

Boukman radio station on the wharf in Soleil made the announcement. The manifestation will start near the wharf.

About a thousand people were singing and dancing already. People of all ages with the man with the megaphone in front. The radio speakers blaring from behind. Walking up Soleil 1.

Two MINUSTAH tanks approach from the rear and creep towards the crowd and the megaphone man tells everyone to move. The tanks pass and I hear not a word from either side. The guns are pointed up. And the singing continues.

We keep walking. The slum people filter into the growing crowd from the maze of shanties that seem to go forever.

A little lady’s hand shakes as she shows me her son’s tiny school picture in the palm of her hand. Her boy is not marching today on the street of Soleil. His body lies in the morgue, a foreigner’s bullet having struck him in his school room in December. She wants to bury him but “doesn’t have the means”.

We reach the machan who are selling at Bois Neuf-Soleil corner. Three white MINUSTAH tanks sit poised in their usual positions caddy corner from the market. The crowd is big and filled with gang members. I watch their eyes as they glance up at the building behind the tanks. Soldiers take pictures out of the windows of the crowd below them.

Everyone stops and stares at the three white tanks. The music is loud from Boukman. “Peace for Cite Soleil” rings out from the crowd and temporarily drowns out Boukman.

MINUSTAH soldiers wave back at the crowd and flash the peace sign from their brown Brazilian fingers. They understand their poor brothers and sisters in front of them.

The crowd passes in front of the tanks and the megaphone man motions them to stop when the tanks start to move forward. The crowd stops and lets MINUSTAH slowly move out and head toward Bois Neuf. The crowd follows. I take a big breath as the tanks proceed in front of the crowd. And pray for no gunshots.

We walk and the singing becomes gentler and more beautiful. The Soleil crowd is big now, maybe five thousand? I jumped up on the median so I can walk quickly but slip in some mud pies that are baking in the morning sun. The crowd goes crazy laughing. Haitian food is stuck on me. I feel like I have done something sacrilegious by slipping, smearing and destroying someone’s food. But maybe the foolishness of yet another blan will somehow decompress rather than inflame.

Everyone turns right on Bois Neuf. Thousands more people have joined us. We reach a two story building on the left which is MINUSTAH’s local base. The black rifle barrows point out tiny slits in the building. We can see black sunglasses but not the full face of the humans holding the guns. Green tree branches are swayed back and forth in front of the building by the crowd as they tell MINUSTAH to go home and that Soleil wants peace.

I pray that no shots ring out. None do. We keep walking.

The sun is high now and we reach Route National 1. All traffic is stopped and everyone waves. The crowd must be 10,000 now. African UN forces nonchalantly talk on their walkie- talkies and the crowd continues to dance and sing.

Route National 1 is beautiful for the first time in many years with thousands of green branches forming a canopy in the air waving rhythmically with the music.

MINUSTAH soldiers occupy another building on our right in Soleil and they wave from windows from the top floor. Peace signs come again from their hands.

We turn onto Rue Boston and head back into Soleil. The crowd divides. Some march forward. I turned down a street heading straight down into the maze of shanties following and being followed by many.

Two blocks later, I could see a beautiful mural of Jesus on the wall in front of me and immediately knew where we were. A gang leader’s base which had been destroyed by MINUSTAH one week before loomed in front of us.

A truck and a car were burned metal heaps with MINUSTAH “bombs”. Walls were blown off the front of a slum dwellers house that abutted the gang’s base.

It looked like a place of death.

We walked straight ahead and could see another MINUSTAH base in Beleco to the left with the soldiers on the top floor watching the crowd.

I turned right. The crowd turned left to catch up with the others.

Two hours was enough for me. I exhaled. There was no violence. I walked back to the middle of Soleil with everyone smiling and saying hello on the street.

I don’t think I have ever felt so peaceful. How can that be in the middle of one of the world’s most infamous and dangerous slums?

Everyone involved had shown the world that there was very little to fear. People on both sides had looked at each other separated by a few precious feet and wondered if all the killing and misery was really necessary after all. A huge statement had been made by the warring factions amidst thousands of the poorest people in the world giving witness and singing songs of hope.

Peace is here today. This morning. Everyone wanted it. That was proven. No one had to sit around a polished desk drinking bottled water to talk about the “possibility of peace” in Soleil.

Prosperity is possible here also if big people and big countries allow it. No one should be eating baked mud pies made from the toxic dirt and water of Soleil.

The women in the crowd with white scarves and shirts that said “For Haiti” deserve the basics for themselves and their babies. They don’t deserve more green sewage, mosquitoes and malaria. They don’t need more bullets and trembling hands trying to get their lost children from the morgue.

The peace I felt was total and came from the profound tranquility that non violent action can bring. If the war in the slum could stop for two hours, with green branches waving and peace signs flashing from both sides, why can’t the killing stop in Soleil for three or four hours or forever?

John A. Carroll, MD

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Crown of Thorns ( by Fr. Richard Frechette)

crown of thorns

like two crowns of thorns
on top of five dry corpses
in final sleep, lay alexandra and stephanie
in the barbaric cave for the dead
known in creole as simply “mog”
my trembling hand blesses them
may the angels lead you far, far from here
and do so in all haste
you and this throng of dead that surround you

their final sleep had not come easily
but followed upon an ideal one
in a shack too small for even a bed
on the floor with mother and father
sleeping securely with naught but love
as their treasure

then shots ring out
no small guns
bullets way too big for small heads
and for the small hearts that suddenly panic
searching for mom too late

alexandra’s eye becomes a deep red canyon,a fjord
and its twin turns to gaze at it
fixed and wide forever
no time for good bye
only to seek the messenger of light

stephanie’s face shows a quiet peace
but her blood soaked night wrap
leaves no doubt
of how fast she was gone, unknowing

mother tries to run with them
but to where?
and finds she cannot move
stayed not by horror
but by her gunshot leg
testament of her steadfast place
in the life and death of her two young gardens
which are no more

i turn to a companion
he tries twice but he cannot speak
he is back at his mothers side, a boy again
when so many years ago
hers also the fate of alexandra

another sobs heavily
bearing a mountain of sorrow
for children he never knew

peacekeepers blame builders of a better world
and the reverse gets equal claim
mother says simple
peacekeepers killed my children
and then she becomes just another story
and the bodies of her children
become pieces of evidence
and all of humanity grows poorer by light years
never the wiser

stabat mater dolorosa
iuxta crucem lacrimosa
dum pendebant filias

Richard Frechette CP
On the massacre of Alexandra and Stephanie
Cite Soleil Feb 1 2007

Accusations of UN Coverup

Go to Haiti Action.

What Next for Soleil?

February 12, 2007

A Journey Through the World's Most Miserable Slum

What Next for Haiti's Cite Soleil?

On February 7 I looked over the balcony rail from the second floor of our clinic in Cite Soleil. Five UN (MINUSTAH) tanks were patrolling the streets directly below us and passing by slowly in single file. Their guns were not aimed at the clinic like usual as I took their picture. A TV cameraman from Channel 4 in London took a long video of them as they passed and waved.

Despite the friendly waves, two days later, in the early morning hours, 700 UN forces, mainly Brazilian, entered the slum and had a fierce gun battle with a gang in the Boston region of Cite Soleil. The shooting lasted for hours. All the main roads into the Soleil were blocked by tanks. People were allowed out on foot and were not allowed to return until late afternoon when the shooting had stopped.

The UN was successful in destroying a prominent gang leaders base in an area of Soleil known as Boston but was unsuccessful in capturing or killing him. Apparently one civilian was killed and two UN soldiers were injured.

The gangs in Soleil shot thousands of rounds of ammunition at the UN. The gangs have M-14's, 9 mm weapons, 38's, American-style machine guns, and hand grenades. I have seen these weapons up close and personal and they appear even more menacing in the hands of shirtless, 19-year-old young men, who are hungry and on the run-being hunted by UN forces. The UN tanks have 50 mm machine guns and on Friday they had a remote control airplane circling Soleil.

Cite Soleil is considered one of the poorest and most dangerous slums in the world. The UN has peacekeeping forces in many parts of the world, but from what I understand, Haiti is the only country where the UN has a peace keeping mission which has taken on heavily armed gangs.

The shooting and war that is occurring in Soleil now is horrific. Hundreds of thousands of people are trapped inside this slum paying homage to the gangs and their soldiers or are running from the bullets from the MINUSTAH tanks and automatic weapons. However, the violence hurts the people of Soleil in so many other ways than just death and injury from bullets.

Father Tom Hagan has a program here in Haiti called Hands Together. Father Tom has eight schools in Soleil, a medical clinic, and feeds 10,000 children each day in this massive slum.

On Friday, he was unable to enter Soleil in a vehicle and so he walked in and was able to free up food for eight thousand people from his two main feeding centers. A radio station in Cite Soleil made announcements that food would be given out as usual to his students in those two areas.

One of Father Tom's centers is in the Bois Neuf area of Soleil. After freeing this food, Father walked down the middle of the main road in Soleil, saying the rosary, and opened his other feeding center at Soleil 24. There was no traffic except UN tanks. Forty UN tanks were inside and outside of Soleil at that point.

Father's schools were closed because his teachers could not get in the slum. And with the shooting, parents were afraid to send their kids to school. It says quite a bit when Haitian parents are too frightened to send their kids to school because that means no education and probably very little food that day for their children.

People delivering food into Soleil were not allowed in on February 7, and so the women who sell in the main market had nothing to sell even if they could have during the barrage of bullets. This weekend, there has been very little food for hundreds of thousands of people.

In an area of Soleil called the Wharf, The Daughters of Charity have six sisters who do incredible work. They have a medical clinic that sees several hundred children a day for acute medical problems. They also have a pediatric vaccination program and a malnutrition program for 50 very malnourished babies. They provide two hot meals for these babies Monday through Friday. While the babies are napping, their mothers participate in a well-organized sewing program, designed to teach them a skill.

The sisters also have a school in Soleil near the clinic that has 600 students. Each day the sisters provide 1,200 hot meals for the kids in their schools and programs.

None of this happened on Friday. The medical clinic was closed. The school was closed. The malnutrition program was closed. Nobody got fed. And most of these people had no food in their homes this weekend either.

One of the sisters had a scheduled vacation to her home country in South America and had to walk out of the slum with her suitcase in her hand amid the gun fire. She was picked up outside the slum by a driver who took her to the airport.

A friend of ours who runs an orphanage four miles from Soleil was besieged by twenty women from Soleil who had snuck out of the slum with their babies asking her to take their kids, feed them, clean them, and put them up for adoption. Our friend had to deny their requests because she already has over 100 children in the orphanage and absolutely no where to put these kids or give them adequate care. They all had to return to Soleil.

Today, Sunday, Father Tom picked me up and we went to Soleil in his jeep. He says mass on Sunday mornings at Saint Ann's which is in the back part of Soleil called Soleil 17.

We easily entered Soleil from route National One. There were no UN tanks blocking the entrance.

The main street in Soleil seemed quiet with fewer people. However, the machan-women street merchants-were selling at their market near Bois Neuf. However, it did not appear that there was much food to sell.

We went down Soleil 1 and turned left on Soleil 17. We saw no MINUSTAH tanks or our way to church. St Ann's is one block down the street on the right. The church is a large structure on a corner. There were no other cars around and gang members from that area sat on the corner and wandered in and out of church. Every one seemed unconcerned.

The altar in the church is simple but there is a beautiful crucified Black Jesus on the cross painted on the wall behind the altar. Red blood pours from his hands and the wound on his right side. There were about 150 people at mass, mostly children and elderly ladies.

After Mass, I spoke with the local gang leader and his soldiers and, they all claimed they were hungry and the thousands of people they control are hungry. They also think that if they lay down their arms, MINUSTAH will arrest them, turn them over to the Haitian National Police, and they will be tortured and die in the Haitian Penitentary.

The look on their faces is hard, cold, and scared. I asked them what they thought MINUSTAH was going to do next, and the gang leader shrugged his shoulders, looked at the ground, and said he didn't know.

Father Tom hopes to be able to bring in dry food into Soleil tomorrow, which will be bags of rice and beans, and distribute it with the help of the gang soldiers.

Father Tom and I then walked through the slum. While we were on a paved road, two UN tanks quietly came down the street. The soldiers waved at us. Their guns were not pointed at the homes or people or us. The tranquility had to be appreciated by the worn out population of Soleil.

We walked into the back neighborhoods where we were surrounded by children and one gang member continued to walk with us. A lady approached and asked me if I would examine her daughter.

I turned around and walked back with her and stepped into her shack. Lying on a bed was her 19 year old daughter who was shot in the back, abdomen, and left arm by MINUSTAH on December 27 as she sat outside her shanty. She was hospitalized at St. Catherine's, a small hospital in Soleil, where she underwent abdominal surgery and was hospitalized for 8 days.

She was lying on a small bed with perspiration covering her forehead in this hellhole. She complained of abdominal pain and said she is not able to eat. Her surgical dressing is still in place and she said she has an appointment tomorrow at St. Catherine's.

Her 3 month old baby girl was lying at her feet. The baby had not had milk in four days because she says she has no breast milk and they have no powdered milk in the one room shack which serves as their home. I saw the empty tin can of Alaska powdered milk next to her bed. They have been giving the baby some boiled water and mashed up cookies in water. The baby seemed fairly content under the circumstances.

I told the 19 year old mom and her mother that I would find the baby some powdered milk and bring it to them.

Father and I continued on and arrived in the Boston section of Cite Soleil and then crossed over to another district of Soleil called Beleco. I went over and talked to a Beleco gang of soldiers. They immediately asked me what I was going to do for them. They were armed and are the soldiers of the escaped gang leader Evans who is hiding in the slum. They said they are hungry also.

People are loyal to Evans. Even though he kills and extorts money, he still feeds thousands of people. He is hidden among them now and no one will say where he is. His name isn't even mentioned. However, the people of the slum fear him and his soldiers less than they do MINUSTAH which shoot to kill from their big white tanks that pass through their neighborhoods.

While I was talking to the soldiers of Evans' gang, a 40 year old lady with a low voice asked me if I would check her mother, who was very sick. As I was walking to her shack in the maze that never seems to end in Soleil, I stumbled onto a lady selling te (earth) which are circular 5 inch diameter pies made of mud with butter and salt mixed in. They are baked in the sun. They are made right in the slum to stem people's hunger. They offered me one which I declined. A pretty 20 year old girl took a big bite of one of these toxic patties, chewed it up and swallowed it while she smiled at me.

I followed the lady with the sick mother and arrived at their shack about 30 yards from the road.. Her 62 year old mother lay on the floor next to a bed lying on her right side. She was covered with flies and groaning softly. Her family obviously could not give her any significant care. They said she was not eating and could not stand.

When I examined her on the floor, she was lethargic and had a hard mass in her abdomen that seemed to be originating from her liver. The family showed me some worthless medication she was taking.

The family carried her to Father Tom's vehicle and we loaded her in back. As we left Soleil, the gang members from Boston waved and smiled as they walked down the road. We took her to a home for dying and abandoned adults run by the Missionaries of Charity in a different part of PAP. This Sisters graciously accepted her and her death will be easier now than it would been on her floor in Soleil.

So what to do----

This is all a dynamic, tricky business. The focus is on the gangs and their soldiers and the UN soldiers. However, these two fighting factions represent only a miniscule of the people affected. Hundreds of thousands of people's lives and well being are at stake now. What will this week bring? There is no tomorrow for Soleil unless sound and beneficent decisions are made within the next few days.

The UN should bring in massive amounts or rice and beans and start feeding the starving people of Cite Soleil. tomorrow morning (Monday).They should do all they can to provide clean water. They should build roads and create a sewer system for Soleil.

MINUSTAH should stop their indiscriminate shooting in densely packed neighborhoods of innocent people. They need to get down off their tanks and walk into the maze of poverty with real human beings living inside.

MASH-type medical clinics need to be set up by MINUSTAH, which could take care of the vast majority of medical problems found in the slum now.

Where is the Catholic Church? Catholic leaders from Haiti and all over the Americas need to come here, walk through Soleil and visit the people. They need to have meetings with MINUSTAH and the gang leaders. The Church needs to promote meaningful dialogue and change now for the poor that are begging for their help.

Will the people continue to starve as they offer their babies up for adoption or will meaningful dialogue occur? If people don't start talking tomorrow morning in Haiti's slum and agree to stop all of the violence, the despair and death in Soleil hasn't even started.

Dr. John Carroll, an American doctor who works in some of the most oppressed areas of Haiti, can be reached through the DyinginHaiti website.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Haiti Photo Essay

Please go to for Haiti photo essay.


Yesterday was February 7, 2007. It marked the 16th year since President Jean- Bertrand Aristide became the first deomocratically elected president of Haiti.

Much has happened in Haiti since 1991. 100,000 people marched in Port-au-Prince yesterday to remember this anniversary.

Go to Flashpoints to hear an interview regarding UN forces and their brutality in a slum in a country that the world has forgotten.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Anonymous Blogger published The Anonymous Blogger.

Afraid in Soleil

My favorite place to work is the pediatric clinic in Soleil.

When I get up in the morning I listen to see if I can hear the UN helicopter circling above Soleil. Today I can hear the helicopter. That is never good.

MINUSTAH (United Nations) has tanks in Soleil and they are constantly looking to kill gang members and vice versa. There is a war in Soleil now. Hundreds of thousands of poor Haitians living in this slum are directly affected by this war.

So each morning I call the driver who picks me up to see if he can get out of Soleil in his vehicle. Today he said he could not come right now to get me because there is much shooting going on and he can’t safely drive out of the slum.

He is going to give it some time and call me back.

When we go through Soleil, he drives quickly, so we are a fast moving target. That is good but I hope we don’t ever hit anyone in the crowded streets.

This violence really plagues the poor people living in Soleil. When the mothers are too afraid to go on the street to take their sick children to the clinic, the children are frequently even sicker the next day when the shooting has stopped.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Peoria Pundit is Scared and Very Disappointing

Here is a post from the Peoria Pundit today. The commenters continue to trash me even after Bill stopped me from posting. Bill is even trying to make me look bad if you read his comments and his posts. However, he did "retract" some of what he said when I called him on it. The more he can blame me, he appeases people that threaten him and his blog.

Bill stopped the comments from yesterday's post he wrote about respect and he even deleted the computer systems analyst e-mail from OSF( that was linked to yesterday in a comment. I think Bill is very afraid of OSF and what they could do to him if they took him to court. He won't admit to that. He does not want to lose his blog. Too bad there is that much fear in Peoria.

I think Bill is upset with himself that he gave in to the powers that be. He was angry, misleading, dishonest, and sarcastic in his comments today. He found out that he is probably not too far from MSM himself.

Conclusion: People don't want to read about Peoria's deficient EMS system which is controlled for the most part by OSF, and they do not want to read about the abandonment of Haitian Hearts patients that need further heart surgery at OSF. The commenters did all they could to attack me for several months, and Bill took a lot of heat from powerful people and his blogger friends. It all became too much for Bill and he had to join in on the attack and get rid of me.

I do realize that this the way the game is played. And I am sure it is not unique to Peoria.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Peoria Pundit Fires Me

The Peoria Pundit finally got rid of me. Read about it and the comments are interesting also. I thought this would happen, I just didn't know when.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Threat

Please go to Peoria Pundit to read about threats sent to Jeanette Johnson after she organized Maxime's funeral. Please see comments that follow her post.

Last night I posted to the Peoria Pundit. It was deleted by Bill Dennis who runs the Pundit. Bill deleted another post of mine a while back that talked about connections between people and OSF.

The deleted post is below. A number of anonomyous commenters attacked today after reading this post:

The Anonymous Blogger

My concerns that I have posted on the Peoria Pundit have been the discrimination against Haitian kids who have not been allowed back to OSF for surgery, and what I believe is an ambulance and paramedic monopoly in Peoria. I don’t think I should blog or comment about important subjects like these unless I sign my name. Putting down one's name increases credibility. In my opinion, pseudonyms don’t work.

Disputes arise when an anonymous blogger includes damaging comments against a company. When an employee blogs against their company, there are limits to what companies can do to find out what employees are blogging against them. However, the company can sue the ISP to determine the blogger identity.

The Peoria Pundit has many anonymous commenters and an anonymous author or two.

Commenters and bloggers can be anonymous for multiple reasons. One can only speculate why someone wants to remain anonymous with their comments. Reasons to remain anonymous are many including fear of publicity, distraction to one’s professional career, ability to lie, denounce, spin, and write anything without answering for it.

I doubt many of the Pundit commenters would be so impolite and abusive if they had to sign their names. I think many of these commenters have a big knowledge base, but anonymous bloggers never have to admit they are wrong. Transparency is not out in the open. And bloggers and commenters seem to have some synergistic parasitic relationships with each other that push their aggression over the top.

Bill Dennis has to walk the fine line between demanding civility and honesty, and has to deal with overt dishonesty, spin, libel, etc. In my opinion, the Peoria Pundit blog is frequently not civil. And many potential commenters are driven away by a handful of commenters. I don’t think people who occasionally comment, even anonymously, like to be attacked by the attackers on this site.

I can understand anonymous bloggers or commenters in a country where their lives are in danger if they blog or comment openly (about their government, for example). But what are these people afraid of in Peoria? Their jobs and reputations mainly, and whether their kids get scholarships…

As opposed to a big company going after a blogging employee, can a member of the public ask a big company like OSF to identify an employee or someone using in their anonymous comments?

An anonymous commenter on the Pundit, “Tony” has responded to many of my posts regarding EMS in Peoria, and in my opinion, he spins the truth a lot in OSF’s favor. He definitely has the inside look at this topic. His uses words like “conspiracy” in a taunting manner and doesn’t answer questions about OSF. I have asked him who he is so we could put his comments into perspective about why he did not feel obstacles were being thrown up to the PFD by PAEMSS or OSF regarding their ability to upgrade, and whether he thought their was conflict of interest at OSF, which he doesn’t seem to want to answer.

He doesn’t answer questions about Sue Wozniak’s comments regarding Dr. George Hevesy and Hevesy’s salary from AMT. (He actually confused the topic by referring to an old AMT website.) Ms. Wozniak is Chief Operating Officer at OSF and a Board Member of AMT. Tony avoids this topic as much as possible for some reason. He knows he could be tracked by OSF’s geeks. But is he even worried?

I doubt it.

When I address the issues of EMS in Peoria and discrimination against Haitian Hearts kids, two of whom we have buried, Tony and a couple of his anonymous colleagues have tried to turn me into the problem, which seems to get quite old in their myriad of abuse. Tony laughed at my suggestion that he is well connected. (I think I have to quit using the word “connected” regarding OSF, because Bill had to delete a comment regarding that in the past by an unhappy reader that put on some pressure and made me the problem again.)

However, even though Tony guffaws at the chance he is well connected, he has sent a comment or two from His IP I think this is from the library at the Center for Health at OSF. But I am no geek and don’t know for sure. I am sure the tech support system at OSF Corporate does know. But will the tech support track this and tell me?

The reason that tech support at OSF should track this is that this is one of the OSF Mission Statements—“open and honest communication”. Tony’s communication is not open and frequently not factual. Does OSF have a responsibility to me or the general public based on their premise of “open and honest communication” to identify Tony. Tony has said some pretty abusive and biased things as an employee of OSF or a “well connected” friend of OSF. Will OSF break another of their OSF Mission Statements?

I don’t mean to pick on “Tony” but when he sends his comments from OSF, he becomes an easy target for me to at least assume he has connections with OSF, which quite likely colors many of his comments the last couple of months regarding Haitian Hearts and EMS in Peoria.

Tony, if you don’t work at OSF, or are “well connected” with them, please accept my apologies. But when we don’t know you or what motivates you, how are we supposed to know about your credibility and the honesty of your anonymous comments?

John A. Carroll, M.D.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Civilians Caught in Crossfire

Civilians Caught in Crossfire During Port-au-Prince Raids
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington

Published: 02 February 2007

The head of the UN mission to Haiti has publicly acknowledged international peacekeepers carrying out anti-kidnapping raids into the poorest parts of the city have to do more to avoid civilian casualties. His comments come after a series of raids in the capital, Port-au-Prince, in which witnesses said a number of innocent bystanders were either killed or wounded by peacekeepers.

"We have to improve, we have to be all the time learning from this," said Ambassador Edmond Mulet, head of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (Minustah). "We have learned lessons every time we have [had] these actions."

Mr Mulet made his comments to The Independent following a presentation in Washington in which the envoy outlined some of the multitude of problems facing Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere and where 70 per cent of the population survive on less than $2 a day.

The envoy denied reports that UN peacekeepers had fired from helicopters, hindered Red Cross volunteers or used "heavy munitions" in the raids on December 22, December 28 and January 5. But during his presentation this week at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) he admitted: "There has been collateral damage. Definitely."

It is unclear how many people were killed in the December 22 raid in the densely-populated slum areas of Cite Soleil when several hundred Brazilian UN soldiers launched a pre-dawn raid aimed at capturing known gang leaders.

Mr Mulet said around 12 or 13 people were killed, of which 10 were known gang members; other unconfirmed reports have put the death toll higher. A number of people were also injured.

John Carroll, an Illinois-based doctor who runs a charity that provides medical aid to Haitian children, said he travelled to Cite Soleil after the raid and spoke with people who had been injured. He also visited St CatherineÕs Hospital, one of the few clinics in Cite Soleil.

"I spoke with the family with holes in their roof. They said the helicopter fired down on Cite Soleil for 3 hours. I saw the holes in the roof and the holes in the people," he said. "I went to St. Catherine's Hospital in Cite Soleil. I did not interview any doctors. I examined the patients myself and their stories seemed to correspond with their injuries."

Mr Carroll said that in the slum he spoke with a woman who gave her name as Immacula. She said that three of her daughters - aged 13, 15 and 17 - received bullet and shrapnel injuries as a result of the raid. Mr Carroll wrote on his blog: "Immacula said the bullets from the helicopter came blasting in through their ceiling. Looking up, I could see a 12 inch hole above my head letting in the sunlight, and multiple other smaller holes peppered the roof above me to the left."

Minustah say they have been tasked by the Haitian government, headed by President Rene Preval, to carry out the raids against gang members believed to be responsible for the kidnappings that in recent months have again soared in Port-au-Prince. In one notorious incident last month a group of schoolchildren were taken from the bus and held hostage. It is predominantly the poor who suffer as a result of the ongoing insecurity.

The December 22 raid in the Bwa Nef district of Cite Soleil targeted a gang led by a man called Belony. Officials said a subsequent raid on January 5 led to the arrest of two members of Belony's gang, including a man called Zachari, who were sought over the their alleged involvement in the killing of two UN peacekeepers from Jordan last November.

But local people and campaigners point out that given the densely populated nature of the slums and the fact that the shanties in which people live offer no protection against gunfire, such raids routinely result in innocent people being killed. The UN and the Haitian National Police also claim that gang members in the slums have shot residents and then blamed the authorities for these deaths - a claim for which no evidence has been offered.

Following the December raid, Johnny Claircidor, a resident of Bwa Nef, told the Reuters newsagency, "The foreigners came shooting for hours without interruption and killed 10 people. Then Belony's gang members started to exchange fire with them. I personally counted 10 bodies."

The series of raids over Christmas and the New Year were not the first time the 7,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Haiti has been at the centre of controversy. In July 2005 a UN raid, again in Cite Soleil, resulted in the death of up to 23 people. The raid was carried out to target a gang leader, Dread Wilme, but later Minustah admitted that civilians may have been killed "given the length of the operation and the violence of the clashes". It emerged UN troops had fired more than 22,000 bullets.

An internal report from the US Embassy in Haiti, recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Haiti Information Project (HIP), noted: "[An official] with Minustah acknowledged that, given the flimsy construction of homes in Cite Soleil and the large quantity of ammunition expended, it is likely that rounds penetrated many buildings, striking unintended targets."

Since the beginning of January UN forces have set up round-blocks around Cite Soleil in an effort to dampen violence. But some activists say such arrangements, along with disruption to the areaÕs fragile water supply, has only made life more miserable for the residents. Brian Concannon, who heads the US-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said: "This is beginning to resemble collective punishment against the residents of Cite Soleil. There is more to this than just the issue of gangs and alleged kidnappers."

Mr Preval was elected last February in elections organised by the UN. The election followed two years of rule by an interim government, imposed by the US, France and Canada following the ousting of President Jean-Betrand Aristide, who had been elected to office for a second term in November 2000. Some of his opponents received backing and support from elements in Washington. Mr Aristide is currently living in South Africa.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The View from Inside

Please go to the Peoria Pundit to read The View from Inside, The Mission and Maxime, and Haitian Hearts to Monmouth.