tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera February 27, 2016 6:30am-7:01am EST
big night for a place that deals in stories is having to face some uncomfortable truths as well if you want to get more on that story and all the others we've been telling you about, head over to our website. you can see our front page in the lead story syria there. >> sex violence and disease. it's the seedy underbelly of the united nations effort in haiti. tonight six years after a massive earthquake rocked the haitian capital we'll expose the dark side of international aid work. i'm ali velshi. welcome to part 2 of a special edition of "on target," haiti on shaky ground. the united nations can be a blessing and a curse. but for haiti
the western hemisphere's poorest country it's been both. six years ago haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake. its worst natural disaster in more than two centuries. millions of haitians looked to the u.n. for help because the u.n. already had a large presence in haiti and the help did come. governments and private donors pledged more than $13 billion to the relief effort. the u.n. set up temporary housing for thousands of residents. it built schools, hospitals and sanitation systems and the u.n. currently maintains a 380 million dollar annual budget to pay for its peace keeping force in haiti. that pays for the more than 6,000 u.n. soldiers tasked with upholding public security. but the u.n. effort may also have made some things worse. many blame u.n. peace keepers for a cholera epidemic that has left thousands dead. at the same time, u.n. soldiers have been dogged with allegations of sexual abuse and
exploitation of poor haitian women and children. flit we hold the united nations to account in part 2 of latte, on shaky ground . david ariosto traveled had and has this special report. >> reporter: in the rural places far outside the haitian capital, poverty, even the western hemisphere's poorest country can take on influence meaning. those like josmena na na yousef, she met a u.n. soldier stationed at a base near the southern city of port salut. at just 17 years old, josmena became pregnant.
the father she says was that u.n. soldier. bus she says the soldier left haiti soon after her pregnancy and returned to his home country of uruguay. four years later she is raising her son syria on her home, petitioning the u.n. for help. with the soldier gone her options are limited. so the father's not listed on this birth certificate for syria her four-year-old son. that is big problem trying the get child support. she went down to the u.n. to get dna testing done but it's been two years and she still hasn't gotten the results yet. >> her polite isn't unique. in some ways the problem goes deeper. the scathing
report widespread sexual exploitation of poor haitian women. more than 229 women told the u.n. they agreed on transactio transactional sex, trading for food and medicine that are so often in short supply. we went in search of these women and found josmena along with fourth other women who all have babies allegedly fathered by u.n. soldiers who have all since left the country. all got dna testing done in an effort to get a match with those soldiers and securing some kind of child support. after years without word many have given up hope.
>> nearly all of these women acknowledge receiving either money or some other form of help during their relationship with soldiers though they say the relationships were mutual. u.n. soldiers are prohibited from such relationships but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen and with some cases with minors like josmena who was just 17 years old at the time. in fact roughly one-third of the alleged abuse detailed in the u.n. report involved minors. >> any case of sexual exploitation and abuse is one case too many. >> reporter: u.n. mission in haiti says it is aware of these cases and has taken steps to
address the situation suspending soldiers and offering outreach to victims. but their own report says assistance to these women remains, quote, severely deficient. >> we do not -- we prohibit fraternizing between the military component and the civilians in the country. >> reporter: you prohibit it but it certainly happens and it happens quite a bit. we are actually in country only acouple of days and we found a pliern who haminor who had a sel relationship with a u.n. soldier, she has stride to get dna testing and this is gotten the run around by the officials here. >> i hope that person, one, has submitted a complaint to the u.n. >> she has. >> to the discipline team which has been conducting outreach session informing people of what the procedure is and what the procedure should be in the event
of an accusation. >> reporter: i guess my point being we've only been here a couple of days and we've already located someone. is there an expectation or understanding that there may be a far more widespread problem than your offers has recognized so far? >> i think question of sexual abuse and exploitation is a question where one has seen a high degree of underreporting. >> reporter: but this isn't the first time allegation of sexual abuse by u.n. so soldier have arisen in haiti. after widespread allegation he of sexual exploitation against haitian women and girls some as young as 13 years old allegedly forced into brothels. but in twief 2011 a bombshell dropped.
a video surfaced of u.n. soldiers filming the rape of a 13-year-old haitian boy. two of which were sentenced to a year in prison but according to the u.n. watchdog none of the perpetrators were sanctioned and the victim or his family were never compensated, widespread criticism of the u.n.'s continued presence in haiti. >> what's their purpose being here, being stability? >> reporter: more than 6,000 u.n. peace keepers are currently deployed to haiti to provide security to a country that's often been racked by violence. and yet in light of recent scandals such as this latest report there is a growing chorus of voices in haiti who said that force may have overstayed its welcome. >> they have no business here. truly, never had, and it's been
>> just over fin months after a devastating earthquake rocked the haitian capital in 2010. health officials announced the country's first outbreak in cholera in more than 100 years. with poor water sanitation, the deadly disease soon spread and became an epidemic, killing thousands. local health officials struggled as to how it started but a surprising source . david ariosto recently visited a cholera clinic in haiti and has this report. >> reporter: in haiti, cholera is not only claiming lives. it may be getting worse. the deadly water borne disease
has so far left some 9,000 people dead, sick thing more than 7 photo,000. 40,000. and the haitian government says the number of cholera case he emotional doubled in the first months of 2015 compared to the same period a year earlier. for many in this country, this tragedy has been particularly hard to confront. given that the disease was potentially brought to haiti by those tasked with protecting it. and yet, six years later, virtually no one last been held to account for the epidemic. so cholera is a highly infectious disease that can kill really within a few hours. it was never native to haiti before the earthquake but recent testing has indicated that this particular strain has come from u.n. relief workers. the u.n. has not accepted responsibility for this outbreak
and like ileana behind me contracted this disease and came in yesterday. multiple investigators concluded that the united nations was the likely source. >> what we are looking at is about as closing as you can in science to a slam dunk. >> a report points to a sewage leak that housed u.n. anyone allies aid workers. in 2010, intafnt walke sebastian sebastian headed walker headed to that area. the area is situated next to a tributary stream that needs haiti's longest and most important river.
>> to bring people from a country where a cholera is endemic, i marine, that was criminal. and now they won't accept responsibility for it. this is totally insane. >> reporter: in a bid to get victims and their families compensation for the outbreak human rights lawyers filed a class action lawsuit in u.s. federal court. the suit accused the united nations of gross negligence and misconduct. but in 2015, the court ruled those victims cannot sue the united nations, because the u.n. has legal immunity only it can waive. to find out more i sat down with the u.n. head of missions in haiti. >> is there some reason why the u.n. has not provided some program for compensation for some of these families when it seems very, very clear where this cholera outbreak came from?
>> we work very closely with the ministry of health and population in support of the ministry's efforts to eliminate the transmission of cholera in haiti. >> so sit sort of safe to say that the -- so is it sort of safe to say the u.n. brought cholera to haiti, the u.n. last to fix cholera in haiti is that what you're saying? >> i'm saying that the united nations is working in support of the efforts in haiti to eliminate the transmission of cholera. we have been doing this since the outbreak of the epidemic in 2010. we want to see dramatic reduction -- >> we want to drill down -- >> sorry. >> what does that mean? the question is is there a reason why the united nations hasn't accepted responsibility for this. >> the united nations has a number of agencies, as i mentioned, that are working in support of the seismic socioeconomic development of haiti. >> so after more than half
odecade and thousands dead, the united nations stance on whether it's responsible for the cholera ep tellic in haiti hasn't changed. for now, that means compensation for those like ileana and those in her family just isn't coming. >> crippled by a n earthquake, ravaged by disease, that isn't all. >> you've got a town that's blowing back protesters.
>> six years after the earthquake rocked haiti, political turmoil is consuming the country. an election runoff is repeatedly postponed after allegation he of vote rigging in the first round. concerns over security are growing. security is the responsibility of the united nations and haitian police, keeping the peace is no easy task in haiti and at times the u.n. force has
been accused of overreach, previously using deadly force. david ariosto headed into a recent protest march in parpts to brin port-au-prince to bring you this story. >> reporter: this is just another day. tear gas often mixes with protests in port-au-prince as the security forces struggle to maintain order. this is emblematic, police force he, crouches behind this wall here. a water cannon is keeping back protesters. these demonstrations first erupted back in october, after allegations of vote are fraud during the first round of elections. since then demonstrations have
become a weekly sometimes daily occurrence. so our crew headed to one. basically brought their group into the street to express their dissatisfaction over the runoff. the group coming to the street holding signs and saying the president's hand picked candidate a man by doesn't representative this country. elections were postponed amid mounting pressure of street protest over alleged corruption. >> there is a lot of pent up anger and aggression with the political class and system in haitian haiti, clearly finance evidenced by the fact this nearly 70% did not vote. a perception that this process is not fair and haitians are not able to choose their own leaders. >> organization of american
states largely certified the first round results but a growing course of voices including former secretary of state patrick elli everybody says the process is not fair adding the international community is partly to blame. >> the haitian economic elite is not only subservient is foreign interest it is also blind. they think that because they're leaving the penthouse , having neglected the foundation of the building that it won't crumble. >> reporter: often coined the republic of ngoos, haiti hosts 10,000 ngo gos. security force he have a heft of heavy hand he tactics that at times prompt backlash.
in december 2014 u.n. peace keepers clashed with protesters as they marched to the presidential palace, demanding new leadership. demonstrators burned tires and threw rocks. but the u.n. drew widespread criticism after its soldiers opened fire. pledging to hold its soldiers accountable after, quote, inappropriate use of their weapons. but accountability is something many residents say is missing. but from foreign powers and their own leaders which has only added to frustrations and a sense of even more dise dise eenfranchisement. >> continue to take to the streets. for many there are reasons enough to be frustrated. two out of three haitians live
on less than $2 a day and a rich minority of haitians possess nearly 70% of the country's income. i asked president martelly, who has been in office since 2011 why there are so many living in tent cities so many years after the quake. >> people living in tents were not the only problems we had in haiti. and talking about people living under the tents we had about 1.5 million people living under the tebts and today th thetent. today, the number is around 40,000, too many but again, to take into account the number of people we have displaced from under the tent but in homes, homes that are secured homes that are so much better than tents, i think it's a great effort. and not just that. today you can drive around port-au-prince, not even seeing
in some area, not even remembering that there was an earthquake. >> when you first campaigned mr. president you spoke about bringing back a real sense of sovereignty to haiti, bringing back the national military. today, the united nations still takes care of much of the security in the country. that vision of yours for haiti run by its own military and its own civilian government going to come to pass? >> as a matter of fact, we have made tremendous advancement in that sense. keep in mind that for us to be men today, we were some days we were babies. we grew up or became men. same thing for a government, same thing for a country to be developed. >> mr. president your country has relied heavily on foreign aid groups. how have the foreign aid groups affected haiti from the way the aid is delivered to the conduct of u.n. peace keepers, the
cholera outbrak what's the mood in haiti about he's foreign aid organizations? >> i must tell you ali that aid has been probably bigger disaster than earthquake itself for not being organized. of course today most of the ngos, most of them are either out of haiti or aliernd wit alir views. today we oar government that are sitting down with our partners, to define our priorities. the model that we have in the north side of haiti, talking about the industrial park that was built by the americans is the type of aid that we need. we need to create jobs. we need to boost the economy. the type of aid we get from venezuela is qula w what we neee we get funds that enable us to create our own projects and
identify our priorities and actually do it. but in the past, ngos came down here and did it the way they wanted. and sometimes you went to a neighborhood where you saw two hospitals side by side and then you could run two more states i mean departments in our country and not find even one hospital. so today we identified the priorities, the location for what we need and we do it, of course still with the partners. >> mr. president, one of the things we speak to the red cross and the u.n. and other organization he many of them still tell us that haiti is just too corrupt a place to trust the government, as a result many work through a series of nongovernmental organizations and sometimes that's that's not the most efficient way of getting things done, lots of duplicate projects and not enough overall coordination. how do you see that getting repaired? >> i must tell you corruption is something we all need to get rid of.
it's not just in haiti but of course, in a country destroyed by misery. it's -- it's true, that there's much more corruption in haiti. as a matter of fact, it had become part of our mentality. but i must also admit that this government is the one that has worked the most at battling corruption. >> but you've got critics who have accused you of having serious ties to corruption. what's your response to those who say you a have been part of the problem. >> it is easy. some way they said there were fraud, they cannot prove it, i believe they have the right to say i'm corrupted or i have ties with people who are corrupted. first of all how do you know somebody is corrupted? he has to be caught. when he's caught you know he's corrupted. people say anything they want about people. my self, i've been focused on what i have to do .
>> that's it for our special coverage of haiti on shaky ground. i'm ali velshi. the news continues on al jazeera america. >> my family, a part of them, they get killed. and i don't like to see people get killed. those people that died, that was really close.. i miss them like i don't really going to -- i can't really be on them.