Haiti: Civil Unrest (MDRHT016) DREF Operations Update no. 1 - Haiti

A two-month extension has been approved as the situation in the country remains highly volatile and unpredictable. Security analysis indicates mass protests and complete lock-out of the country is likely any time due to political instability, the lingering socio-economic crisis, increased activity from criminal groups and shortage in petrol products. The current DREF operations provide the Haitian Red Cross with necessary capacities to maintain mobilization of the crisis management structure, continue preparedness activities in Port-au-Prince and branches, and with contingency capacities to respond to future potential events.

The overall budget of the operation remains untouched, but the following lines of the Plan of Action have been modified to support the implementation of the intervention strategy during the next two months:

• Livelihoods: The Haitian Red Cross has specifically requested that the Food distribution in emergencies activity is kept in the DREF as a contingency activity should the situation deteriorate in the country and implemented only if the situation requires it.

• Health: The budget of the Ambulance Service and PSP for Volunteers activity has been modified to best reflect the actual costs of mobilization of the ambulance service. The original budget had been calculated on a 90-day mobilization for 7 ambulances; this has been reviewed to a total of 30 days for 7 ambulances following an analysis of the latest security tendencies.

• WASH: The Haitian Red Cross has specifically requested that the Water distribution activity is kept in the DREF as a contingency activity should the situation deteriorate in the country and implemented only if the situation requires it. Also, the budget has been reviewed to reflect the latest trends better. Initially, the budget included 6 trucks per a total of 12 weeks, the revised budget now plans for a contingency of 3 trucks per a total of 12 weeks.

• Migration: Two RLF teams have been deployed to the border areas to offer service and provide information regarding migration tendencies. The first reports show 0 families attended for this activity. Therefore, the RLF activity has been cancelled. Nevertheless, monitoring and information teams will remain mobilized in the very same areas to keep on providing valuable information regarding the situation in the border area.

• Strategies for Implementation: The budget has been reviewed to extend support to human resources in charge of implementing the DREF operation for the requested extension period (additional two months). Extension of costs estimated has also been proposed for all support costs to offices, communications, transport, and volunteer insurances. Security costs to secure Haitian Red Cross and IFRC assets in the compound have been added as we recently identified issues of disappearing equipment and fuel shortages in the past months. Budget is also maintained to be able to roll-out security trainings in the branches.

A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Massive protests have taken place since January 2019 in the capital and other cities of Haiti. The socio-economic crisis and the devaluation of the local currency (the Gourde) against the US dollar and the resulting increase in prices have fueled public discontent. The last social protests involved in some cases a high degree of violence, including attacks to public buildings and private companies, burning of gas stations and banks and people injured and killed.

The context in Haiti remains tense with sporadic small protests and roadblocks throughout the country. Acts of violence, as infighting between criminal groups, have regularly been occurring but generally limited to specific areas. Despite this tense context, a certain sense of normalcy seems to have regained the population in their day to day activities.

On March 18, Henry Céant stepped down to be replaced by Jean Michel Lapin who was sworn in on March 21, 2019, as interim Prime Minister, and later confirmed in this position by the President.
While the civil unrest situation has eased over the past few weeks in comparison to the previous month, calls to resume protests and barricades are frequent. Over the next few weeks, teams are monitoring possible flaring of violence over key dates Friday 29 March 2019, as the report for the use of PetroCaribe funding is due; or May 18, day of the flag.

However, on March 27, 2019, the Chilean ambassador’s convoy was attacked by armed men while on a project site visit in Croix-des-Bouquets, a suburb of Port-au-Prince. The incident left one dead and another injured. Violent events targeting international NGO’s are also being reported in Artibonite.
Significant fuel shortages are currently affecting activities in Port-au-Prince and the country which adds to the general level of insecurity and discontent.

IFRC has been in constant coordination with Haitian Red Cross and Movement partners to analyze the current security situation and contribute to the decision-making process.

DREF activities to support the Haitian Red Cross through increased capacity to coordinate, communicate and respond to local humanitarian needs are ongoing.

With the continuing socioeconomic crisis (high inflation rate, difficulty to access fuel, draught in the north, etc.), it is expected that calls for protest will continue over the coming weeks and months.
As the overall situation in the country is not forecasted to improve in the coming months (US embassy has just renewed its risk indicator for travels to Haiti), the Haitian Red Cross is requesting an extension of the current DREF for an additional 2 months in order to support preparation and contingency to respond to future events.

Author / Source – International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies

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