Canada Freezing Aid to Haiti, Citing Lack of Progress

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Above: Minister for International Cooperation Julian Fantino (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

By Alexander Britell

Canada is freezing its international aid to Haiti, according to International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino.

The news was first revealed by Fantino in an interview with French-language paper La Presse.

The freeze puts all new Canada-funded projects in Haiti “on ice,” part of what Fantino has described as a “new approach to international aid.”

“It’s on ice right now — we continue to fund some programs, but there are no new initiatives at this time,” he said. “The fact is that Haiti is still in poor condition — will we continue to do the same thing in Haiti? I think not! Because we are not seeing the progress which Canadians are entitled to expect.”

CIDA could not be reached for comment. Haiti’s National Palace said it had not yet issued a statement.

The revelation follow’s Fantino’s visit to Haiti in late November, when he said that Canada and Canadians “expect transparency and accountability from the government of Haiti given Canadians’ significant level of generosity.”

According to Roger Annis, a spokesman for the Canada Haiti Action Network in Vancouver, the announcement contradicts the overriding message of the Canadian government, which has been that while Haiti is in shambles, the Canadian government is “doing all it can.”

“It’s a pretty radical step to take, but it also sounds pretty hypocritical to us, because the failings of the aid system in Haiti have been very substantially documented and discussed about — it’s not a mystery what’s gone wrong and how things have been,” Annis told Caribbean Journal.

The news also comes less than a week after Canada, along with the United States, issued a new travel warning to Haiti, one which Haiti’s government “vehemently protested” in a statement this week.

“I’m afraid this announcement by the Minister, especially coinciding with the [upcoming three-year] anniversary of the earthquake, is going to be rather harmful to efforts to really get the ship of aid and reconstruction back on a good course,” Annis said. “Because we know it’s desperately needed — housing, health, economic development — all these things have been so lagging — and instead of having a serious discussion on these matters, we just get this announcement.”

 

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