November 24 2010

Unstable situation in Haiti in the run-up to election

23/11/2010 - As the election date draws closer and with the cholera outbreak still not under control, the public mood in Haiti is growing more violent. SOS Children's Villages have not been directly affected by riots in Cap Haitien and Port-au-Prince so far, but the situation is being constantly monitored.

The situation is tense in Haiti. There is one week to go to the presidential elections and headlines decrying the growing number of cholera-cases are spreading around the world. On 15 November, riots in Cap Haitien caused violent clashes between UN peacekeepers and Haitians, resulting in two civilian deaths. On 16 November, riots extended to the capital Port-au-Prince and were quelled with teargas. Fortunately they were not close to the SOS Children's Village. Meanwhile, work in the SOS facilities in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien and the aid programmes which were started after the earthquake continue as usual.

However, SOS Children's Villages is taking extra security measures and preparing for possibly difficult times to come. The situation is being constantly monitored. According to the Dionisio Pereira, director of SOS Children's Villages Haiti, children in Cap Haitien have not been attending school for a few days and almost all businesses have been closed. Training in washing procedures and hygiene to prevent cholera are given at the SOS School in Port-au-Prince and at SOS Community Centres.

The presidential elections take place on 28 November. It is expected that the violence will increase as this date draws closer. Dionisio Pereira said: "The situation is quite complicated. For us it is important to have certain rules to ensure the international staff as well as the children, mothers and the local staff are safe here. We will decide from day to day according to how the situation is developing."