Former Haiti President Aristide Survives Assassination Attempt

Protests in support of the still-popular former president broke out soon after the incident.

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide survived an apparent assassination attempt Monday when gunmen opened fire on his motorcade, injuring two passersby.

RELATED: After Creating Haiti's Cholera Crisis, UN Can Barely Fight It

Aristide was leaving a courthouse in Port-au-Prince, providing testimony for a money laundering case against Jean Anthony Nazaire, former commissary of the Haitian national police, when bullets flew toward his car.

Ira Kurzban, a Miami attorney who represents Aristide, told NBC News that "at least two people standing in front of the car were hit and there (was) blood on the right front bumper and headlight of the vehicle."

"Thank God no one was killed and at least one of the shooting victims was taken to the university medical center that President Aristide was instrumental in founding," Kurzban told the outlet.

Protests in support of the still-popular former president broke out soon after. Aristide is regarded as heroic by many in the country for working his way to the top post as the country's first democratically elected president after growing up in poverty. An adherent of liberation theology, the former Catholic priest played an instrumental role in expelling dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986, whose family ruled the country for almost 30 years.

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Elected twice as president, Aristide was forced to flee the country both times, the first time in 1991 to Venezuela and then later the United States after a military coup against him. He was returned to office in 1994 with the help of pressure from the U.S. Then in 2004, the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush backed a coup against him and he was flown out of the country, which Aristide described as a kidnapping, spending his first months in exile in Jamaica before relocating to South Africa.

Aristide returned to Haiti in 2011, following a massive earthquake the year before which devastated the country, so that he could be a part of the rebuilding process.

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Former Haitian President Rene Preval Dies At 74

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Former Haitian president Rene Preval has died, the government of the Caribbean nation said on Friday.

Preval, 74, was the first democratically elected modern-day leader of Haiti to serve his full term. In 2012, during his second term as president, Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake.

Current President Jovenel Moise said on Twitter that he was saddened to learn of the death of Preval, who he described as a “dignified son of Haiti.”

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UN Finally Offers 'Half Apology' to Haiti for Cholera Outbreak

Six years after peacekeepers unleashed a devastating Cholera outbreak in Haiti, the UN admits "moral" responsibility and offers a "half apology."

After six years of refusing to accept full responsibility for causing a deadly Cholera outbreak in Haiti which has killed up to 30, 000 people since 2010, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon finally offered what he suggested was an official apology on Thursday.

PHOTO GALLERY: In Haiti, the Heartbreaking Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Speaking at a special meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he addressed his remarks directly to the Haitian people in Creole and French. "We apologize to the Haitian people. We simply did not do enough with regard to the cholera outbreak and spread in Haiti. We are profoundly sorry for our role," said Ban.

While in August a U.N. spokesperson had admitted the organization needed to "do much more" to address its role in the deadly outbreak – a statement which the U.N.’s own special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said was a "disgrace" – this is the first time the secretary-general himself has offered an explicit apology.

Ban added that the U.N. role in the epidemic "leaves a blemish on the reputation of U.N. peacekeeping and the organization worldwide. For the sake of the Haitian people, but also for the sake of the United Nations itself, we have a moral responsibility to act and a collective responsibility to deliver." While Ban’s statement did accept "moral" responsibility, it was careful to avoid any admission of legal liability.

U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Philip Alston slammed the statement, calling it a "half apology". Alston told the Guardian that the " determination not to accept legal responsibility entrenches a scandalous legal maneuver designed to sidestep the U.N.’s legal obligations," adding that "it renders a meaningful apology impossible, as is made clear by the half-apology of the secretary-general today: he apologizes that the U.N. has not done more to eradicate cholera, but not for causing the disease in the first place," he concluded.

RELATED: UN Admits Role in Haiti Cholera Outbreak for First Time Ever

The cholera epidemic first struck Haiti in October 2010, less than one year after the disastrous earthquake that worsened longstanding poverty and instability. The first people affected by the outbreak lived near a U.N. base housing over 450 peacekeepers, recently transferred from Nepal where cholera was already an issue. Multiple studies identified the peacekeepers as ground zero for the epidemic which has since spread throughout the Caribbean.

Haiti’s representative to the U.N., Jean Cazeau, said "The U.N. has shown it can admit making mistakes," adding that the statement represents "a radical change of attitude away from the morally unjustifiable approach from the U.N. until now."

Brian Concannon, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said, "Haitians are looking for a less qualified apology – for both introducing cholera and for the six years of denial of responsibility, which was an insult to Haitian dignity."

While sidestepping legal responsibility and thus the financial liabilities that come with it, Ban reiterated his plan to raise US$400 million over the next 3 years to combat the epidemic and redress some of the damages wrought on the region.

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Haiti: UN Agencies Call for Urgent Food Aid

Around 800,000 people in Haiti need urgent food aid after the devastation of Hurricane Mathew, according to an emergency assessment by UN agencies.

Miguel Barreto, the regional director of the World Food Programme (WFP) for Latin America and the Caribbean, warned of the need for funds to continue food distribution and, 'help the 800,000 people who urgently need food aid.'

'The winter planting season is approaching fast. Agricultural producers have lost everything. If we do not act now to provide grains, fertilizers and other materials they need, they will not be able to plant and then will face persistent food insecurity,' said NathanaÃ'l Hishamunda, the Representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Haiti.

Haiti urgently needs $56 million dollars to ensure food aid for the population affected by Matthew during the next three months.

The National Coordinator of Food Safety has also urged effective response coordination through institutional mechanisms and the establishment of a good monitoring, evaluation and consultation system to allow consistency, transparency and efficiency.

A week after the hurricane, the government of Haiti, the CNSA, WFP and FAO conducted an evaluation of the damages.

The report resulting from it also refers to the need to provide food and basic livelihood to 1.4 million Haitians who have lost everything as a result of hurricane.

According to a emergency statement posted on the WFP website, crops in the country were virtually wiped out, about 50 percent of livestock was lost in some areas, food stores suffered serious damage, and the availability of local products has now been reduced to fruits.

In addition, on the southern coast of Haiti, fishing activities have been paralyzed because floods which destroyed nets, traps, boats, engines and all the fishermen need to work.

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PAHO anticipates cholera outbreak in Haiti

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) — The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), has warned that acute diarrheal diseases, including cholera are threatening the population.

Dr Jean Luc Poncelet, PAHO’s Representative in Haitu, said the organisation has set up field operations with the country’s Ministry of Health in the towns of Jeremie and Les Cayes.

“Hurricane Matthew has devastated parts of the country, in the Southwest, it is estimated that 80 percent of the houses have lost their roofs, and most hospitals suffered major damages. At least 100 facilities have lost their ability to function,” Poncelet said.

“Before the hurricane, we had serious problems of access to health, water and sanitation, and cases of cholera,” he added. “So when the water supply is interrupted, cholera will increase. We are seriously concerned about an epidemic of cholera, and that’s why the Ministry of Health with our assistance is taking all measures possible to avoid that happening.”

To date, multinational teams of experts have been deployed to support the government’s efforts against cholera outbreaks. Groups were sent to Jeremie, Les Cayes and Port-au-Prince to support humanitarian operations and restore the capacity of health services and systems.

Poncelet said PAHO is working with the Haitian Ministry of Health to increase the availability of medicines and medical supplies, and cooperating in the organization and planning of the health response to possible outbreaks.

Experts in emergencies and disasters, health services, epidemiological surveillance, logistics, transport and communication have been deployed from PAHO’s Haiti office, its Washington headquarters, and other offices.

With scattered outbreaks of cholera confirmed and in anticipation of an increase in the number of cases, on Sunday, PAHO sent shipments of cholera kits containing oral rehydration solutions, catheters and water chlorination treatments to attend patients with acute diarrhea and cholera.

Poncelet said donations have already started to pour into Haiti, with a French cargo jet arriving on Tuesday with 69 tons of supplies.

France’s Ambassador to Haiti, Elisabeth Beton said her government was interested in collaborating with Haiti’s national response, and sent two water purification stations, for emergency situations, six units for basic sanitation and hygiene, 13 tons of medical and first aid supplies, and cholera treatment kits, PAHO said.

Haiti’s Minister of External Relations and Culture Pierrot Delienne thanked the international community for the donations, and the European Union’s ambassador in Haiti said the donation resulted from good coordination between PAHO and national and international officials.

PAHO also said a Dutch ship arrived with supplies and experts to rehabilitate hospitals.

Additionally, shipments of donations from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, among others, have arrived in the French-speaking Caribbean country.

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Venezuela and Cuba Show Solidarity with Haiti After the Hurricane

The death toll from the hurricane, which has devastated the impoverished Caribbean nation, is approaching 1,000, with scores of people still missing.

The governments of Cuba and Venezuela have shown their solidarity with Haiti by sending specialized personnel and humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Matthew that left over 870 killed, 350,000 in need and ravaged the country. 

Matthew Kills Nearly 900 in Haiti And Brings Cholera OutBreak​

Cuba sent a group of 38 health professionals from the Henry Reeve Brigade who are trained in disaster medicine and infectious disease containment. The volunteer team was outfitted with essential medicines and equipment and has already arrived in the Haitian capital of Port au Prince. 

For its part the Venezuelan government has already sent two shipments with humanitarian aid, the first was an airplane with 20 tons of nonperishable food, water, blankets, kitchen utensils, disposable materials, tents, ponchos and medicines.

On Friday’s night a ship with 700 tons of aid left the Venezuelan coast toward Haiti, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela said in an official statement.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the Category 4 hurricane, which has devastated the impoverished Caribbean nation, continues to climb, with scores of people still missing since last Tuesday when it landed with howling winds measuring 145 miles per hour.

Matthew, which has been downgraded to Category 1 storm, also hit the United States, Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas, bringing torrential rain and high winds. 

RELATED: Haiti Cancels Presidential Election for Fourth Time in a Year

Haiti was particularly affected because it is the poorest country in the Americas, has not yet fully recovered from a devastating 2010 earthquake which decimated its infrastructure, while political stability remains evasive. 

Moreover, there remains the threat of complications like cholera outbreaks or other health crises which have often followed natural disasters on the island. So far seven cases attributed to water contamination with sewage have been already registered.

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Hundreds stranded in North Carolina floods after Hurricane Matthew

The rivers were expected to crest early this week, with a few areas surpassing previous records.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - (AP) - Matthew is long gone from the Atlantic coast early Monday, but the devastation lingers, most notably in North Carolina, where flooded cities are trying to dry out and those downstream are keeping a close eye on rising rivers.

"This is still an extremely unsafe situation", McCrory said. "Our models show very, very risky conditions as those rivers go over their edges". The Lumber River in Lumberton was 4 feet above its record level Sunday afternoon and was forecast to remain there for at least five days.

Matthew sideswiped hundreds of miles of the USA coastline from Florida through Georgia and the Carolinas, its eye staying far enough offshore that the damage in many places along the coast was relatively modest, consisting mostly of flooded streets, flattened trees and blown-down signs and awnings.

According to Haiti's Civil Protection Service, more than 330 people were killed but some media outlets citied figures from local officials that claimed the death toll exceeded 800.

They heard her cries for help while riding on top of a Humvee, and when they couldn't get her with a rope, a National Guard soldier swam to her, staying until a rescue boat arrived, Emergency Management Director Gordon Deno, said. The agency warned that floodwater could be charged by downed power lines or could hide unsafe debris.

McCrory said 334 rescue workers risked their lives carrying out 877 rescues overnight.

Frenel said 522 people died in Grand'Anse alone. Most were swept away by flood waters. "At night it is deadly". And, he said, "Trees are down in every neighborhood on nearly every road".

The precise death toll remains uncertain. "The power of water can kill people". "Turn around, don't drown".

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Sunday lifted evacuation orders in four counties, saying residents in another two may be allowed back on Monday.

Even after the storm was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Sunday and it moved out to sea, officials warned that the worst is not over.

The storm still packed hurricane force winds as far as 90 miles (150 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds 240 miles (390 km) away.U.S. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Georgia and Florida, freeing up federal money to help the states fix damaged infrastructure and remove debris.

On Sunday, the most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007 unleashed torrential rains and powerful winds as it churned slowly north after pummelling the southeastern coast of the United States, killing at least 11 people in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina since Thursday and leaving more than two million businesses and homes without power.

In Haiti, where the storm killed hundreds of people: "A massive relief effort is being mounted for hurricane-ravaged parts of Haiti", NPR's Jason Beaubien reports from Port au Prince, "with President Obama urging Americans to give whatever they can".

The storm sideswiped hundreds of miles of US coastline from Florida to the Carolinas, but its eye remained far enough offshore that the coastline damage in many places was relatively modest, consisting mostly of flooded streets, flattened trees and blown-down signs and awnings. By the time the storm hit Charleston, S.C., it was a Category 1 hurricane, but the historic port city still faced a 6-foot storm surge, severe flooding and fallen trees.

An estimated 2 million people in the Southeast were ordered to evacuate their homes as Matthew closed in.

The storm left 1000 people dead in Haiti, and on Monday United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said some Haitian towns and villages had been nearly wiped off the map.

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Hurricane Matthew: Haiti storm disaster kills hundreds

The UN has warned it could take days for the full impact of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti to emerge, as the death toll soars to more than 800 dead.

The death toll has doubled, and may rise, as rescue teams gain access to remote areas cut off since the storm.

The World Food Programme's Carlos Veloso says some areas in the south can only be reached by air or sea.

Many of the deaths in Haiti were in the south-western coast, which suffered the full force of the hurricane this week.

Category Three Matthew, with sustained winds of 120mph (193km/h), is currently battering the coastline of the US state of Florida but has not yet clear if it will make landfall.

At 11:00 local time (15:00 GMT) Matthew was hugging the Florida coast, about 35 miles east of Daytona Beach and moving north-west at about 13mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Rescue efforts are under way to assess the destruction left in the wake of the most powerful Caribbean storm in a decade.

Haiti's civil protection agency on Friday doubled the death toll from the hurricane from 400 to more than 800.

A definitive number is taking time to obtain because of the intensity of the damage to remote areas that are inaccessible because of flood water.

At least one major town in the south - Jeremie - has been 80% destroyed, with aerial footage showing the scale of destruction with hundreds of flattened houses.          The town of Jeremie was among the worst hit in southern Haiti / AFP on the number of dead is starting to trickle in from remote areas / REUTERS          The town of Jeremie was among the worst hit / AFP

Three other towns in the south, according to Reuters news agency, are reporting dozens of fatalities. The mayor of the village of Chantal told the news agency that 86 people had died and 20 more were missing.

The UN says there are some 350,000 people in need of assistance.

"This is a situation changing all the time," the World Food Programme's Haiti director, Mr Veloso, said.

"I think that for the next four or five days, maybe only in five days, we will have a more clear picture of the impact and the death toll."

The US is sending its USS Mesa Verde navy ship to help with rescue efforts.

Non-governmental organisations say communication with the areas worst affected has been hampered by lack of phone coverage and downed power lines.

There are also concerns about a surge in cholera cases, with the sanitation system in Haiti already overwhelmed.

Haiti - one of the world's poorest countries - has never fully recovered from the earthquake that killed thousands of people in 2010 and the cholera epidemic that followed.

Storm surge risk

After slicing through Haiti and Cuba, Hurricane Matthew pounded the Bahamas on Thursday but no fatalities were reported there. Four people died in the neighbouring Dominican Republic on Tuesday.

The hurricane is currently winding its way up the south-eastern US coast, just kilometres from the Florida coast, which is being battered by strong winds and rain.

US President Barack Obama on Friday warned that, while southern Florida had been spared the worst, the hurricane remained very dangerous, and the risk of a storm surge and flooding remained real.

A state of emergency is in place in several states and at least three million inhabitants have been ordered to evacuate their homes.

More than half a million homes have lost power in Florida.

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