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Posts Tagged ‘displaced people’

Haiti Quake Aftermath: Rape of Displaced People

Posted by feww on March 9, 2010

HAITI: Women at risk in the camps

PORT-AU-PRINCE, 9 March 2010 (IRIN) – Many women at the Jean-Marie Vincent site for displaced people (IDPs) in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince wash themselves inside their makeshift tents because the only alternative is to do so out in the open. Given the overcrowding and meagre security, this exposes them to the risk of attack or rape.

Going to the site’s latrines is also risky, especially at night, for there is no lighting and some toilets are isolated.

“We have not yet reached a standard of organization that respects women’s rights,” Smith Maximé of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Haiti told IRIN.

“We have registered rape cases that occurred when women were in the latrines. When toilets are not secured – as in many of the camps – women are often attacked there,” he added.

“We are not safe here,” one woman in the Jean-Marie Vincent camp told IRIN, holding her two-month-old baby. “Three men attacked me as I walked to a latrine. They covered my face and my mouth and raped me.” Initially she said nothing but her pain was so intense, after three days she told some relatives.

The failure to meet established minimum disaster relief standards [http://www.sphereproject.org/content/view/44/83/lang,english/] is “creating serious security, privacy and dignity concerns”, according to the Gender in Humanitarian Response Working Group*.

“Increased lighting surrounding those latrines should be an immediate priority to ensure the safety of women and girls using sanitation facilities at night,” the Group said in a statement issued in late February.

“Increased attention must be paid to the provision of dedicated and private bathing facilities to reduce women’s current vulnerability to sexual violence. Though many women and girls bathed outdoors prior to the earthquake, the nature of many IDP sites (crowded living conditions, living near strangers) is creating new vulnerabilities to violence and exploitation, in particular at night, that did not necessarily exist before,” it said.

Crowded and dark

Overcrowding and lack of lighting in camps are part of the problem. In many camps there is no space between tents. Aid organizations and the government plan to move people from 21 of the most congested sites either back home, to host families or to land recently allotted by the authorities. In the meantime aid agencies are putting some security measures in place, such as installing lights.

“Protection is one of the major issues of concern when sites are over-congested,” Sara Ribeiro, protection coordinator with the International Organization for Migration, told IRIN. IOM is the lead agency for the group of agencies collectively tasked with organizing the management of camps for displaced people.

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), [http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/pageloader.aspx] a group of UN and non-UN organizations that since 1992 has worked to harmonize humanitarian best practice, stipulates [http://oneresponse.info/crosscutting/gender/Documents/Gender%20ABC%20Haiti%20emergenc%2020100121.pdf] that humanitarian actors must ensure that the route to water and sanitation facilities is safe and that latrines are well lit and lockable from the inside.

Management

Ribeiro said another major problem was a lack of camp management agencies. As of 4 March just one-fifth of the 400 camps for displaced families had such agencies in place, she said.

“More agencies. need to take over site management,” she told IRIN. “That is the only way to prevent these things from happening. Because no amount of service delivery [medical care, food rations, water] is going to be able to respond to what happens when the sun sets.”

Community watch groups are forming in many sites; OCHA states in a 4 March report that these groups will need training to increase the protection of women and girls.

UNFPA is working with the authorities and local NGOs to revive a system of reporting sexual violence cases. “But our immediate focus is to disseminate information on available medical and psycho-social support, and to [put first] the rights and choices of the survivor,” Lina Abirafeh, GBV coordinator for UNFPA in Haiti, told IRIN.

The agency is compiling a list of hospitals and NGOs that provide medical and counselling services for distribution in the camps.

UN aid workers say no comprehensive statistics of rape in the camps are available but rape and impunity have long been widespread in Haiti, as IASC notes. In 2008 Amnesty International reported “shocking levels” of sexual violence against girls. [http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGUSA20081201001]

np/am/mw

* The group comprises representatives of MINUSTAH-Human Rights, MINUSTAH-Gender Unit, UNIFEM, UNFPA, World Food Programme, IOM, UN Children’s Fund, and several NGOs, including the International Rescue Committee, American Refugee Committee, and International Medical Corps.

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Air Quality in Beijing 2008

Posted by terres on June 23, 2008

News of air quality in Beijing aren’t good

But hey, who cares? The athletes would probably be pumped with so much exotic performance enhancers they wouldn’t feel a thing.

As for the foreign visitors, they’ve got to be wealthy enough to travel to China and stay there for a week or two, right? And if you are wealthy, the discourse goes, you would know what’s good for you!


Air pollution can be seen down the main road of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square June 18, 2008 as paramilitary policemen march across it as part of the flag lowering ceremony at sunset. Australian Olympic officials have defended their decision to ban dozens of athletes from marching at the opening ceremony in Beijing because of concerns about pollution in the Chinese capital. Although it is not unusual for Australian athletes competing in the first few days to skip the ceremony to save their energy, Athletics Australia has ordered the entire team to stay away from Beijing for as long as possible because of concerns about air quality. REUTERS/David Gray (CHINA). Image may be subject to copyright. See FEWW Fair Use Notice!

What others say about the air quality, Beijing 2008:

Smoggy smoggy smoggy, oi oi oi

China has even changed the way it measures Beijing air quality so that the results appear better than they really are, report The New York Times and Beijing air-quality blogger pyongyangsquare.com. What could be more thoughtful than that when it comes to putting your guests at ease? …

“We have had athletes come back from a recent test event and one athlete has got 10 days off training because of a respiratory problem,” Athletics Australia’s high performance manager Max Binnington told ABC radio. “We don’t want our athletes to be undertaking that sort of risk.” …

They needn’t worry about making excuses. All Australian attempts to avoid upsetting the hosts will be forgotten once the Americans turn up looking like Darth Vader.

Randy Wilber, the lead exercise physiologist for the US Olympic Committee, has urged American athletes to wear specially designed carbon filtration masks over their nose and mouth from the minute they set foot in Beijing until they begin competing …

Pollution cloud over the Olympics

With 47 days to go to the Olympics China has admitted pollution fears remain high and endurance events may have to be re-scheduled.

China insists Beijing’s air quality will meet World Health Organisation standards in August [Olympics from Aug. 8-24 and the Paralympics from Sept. 6-17.] It is limiting car traffic during the event, suspending construction work and closing and moving factories away from the city.

But it is one of the most polluted cities in the world and, with 3.5 million vehicles on the road, it’s among the most congested.

Beijing Announces Traffic Plan for Olympics

Beijing has 27 air-quality monitoring stations, but some observers have questioned whether the stations, many of which are in rural and mountainous areas in the city’s suburbs, accurately reflect the quality of air in the crowded urban center of the city where most people live — and where most Olympic events will take place. In recent days, one reporter at the news conference remarked, the hazy air has seemed polluted, though the environmental agency’s daily figures say the pollution level has been low.

Blood over Beijing

The Beijing Olympics will not be the world’s least controversial. China is under fire by human rights activists, the Olympic Torch relay has become a focal point for protests, while athletes from some nations have signed gag orders to stop them commenting on anything but sport. So much for sport and politics says Jacqui Lund. …

People and pollution ? two commodities China has in abundance. Both are badly managed, both are currently in the international eye. “This will be the People’s Olympics,” China promised when they were awarded the Olympic Games. “We will make the preparations for the Olympic Games a process of substantially improving the people’s living standards, both materially and culturally,” they claimed.

China budgeted around $37bn on the Olympics in Beijing. Their state-of-the-art Olympic facilities, the ‘Bird?s Nest’ National Stadium and the ‘Water Cube’ Aquatics Centre are structural wonders to behold.

Lurking in the shadows are China’s 40 million people living below the poverty line with no national healthcare system. No-one has been able to say how the Water Cube will feed and medicate the millions.

According to the China Rights Forum, the number of people displaced by Olympics-related development in Beijing is over 1.4 million.

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