Weather Channel Meteorologist Apologizes For Haitian Children ‘Eat Trees’ Comment

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Oct 4, 2016

Weather Channel Meteorologist Jen Delgado is facing sharp criticism and some are asking for her to be fired after she blamed Haiti’s deforestation in part to hungry children eating trees.

In a weather report as Hurricane Matthew prepared to make landfall in Haiti,  Delgado noted that Haiti suffers from a deforestation problem.

“They take all the trees down, they burn the trees,” and she continued with a curious claim, “Even the kids there, they’re so hungry, they actually eat the trees.”

Haiti’s deforestation, a well documented problem, is actually caused by Haitians chopping down trees to use for charcoal, the island nation’s chief choice for fuel.

Former Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe posted the Weather Channel clip on Facebook writing, “Shame on you!! Jennifer Delgado and #Weather #Channel. Deeply disturbed by your reporting that Haitian children are eating trees! Where did you get this #info?”

Delgado later issued a on-air apology, that some say is not enough.

“I want to begin by  apologizing  for a statement  I made yesterday that was found inappropriate,” she said.  “My intention is always to inform and educate.”

Delgado also posted an apology to her Facebook page.

But many commenters noted her statement was not simply “inappropriate”, it was false.

“You lied on TV. You deserve to be dismissed,” wrote McKenzie Fleurimond, a former North Miami Beach councilman.

Mia Lopez, co-founder of and Miami resident, took to her Instagram account writing,  “It is disgusting that in 2016 #theweatherchannel can have uneducated people like…Jennifer Delgado on the air telling MILLIONS that children in Haiti eat trees because they are going hungry!”

A petition circulating online demanding an apology from Delgado received more than 500 signatures.

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Haiti in ruins after Hurricane Matthew

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It’s difficult to determine the number of casualties from the storm in Haiti after a key bridge was washed out, roads became impassable and phone communication was cut off from Haiti’s hardest-hit areas, but major damage has been reported, according to the AP.

“It’s the worst hurricane that I’ve seen during my life,” Fidele Nicolas, a civil protection official in Nippes, told AP. “It destroyed schools, roads, other structures.”

According to Haiti Libre, 14,530 people have been displaced, 2,703 families are affected and 1,885 houses are flooded.

After a request for aid from Haiti, the United States deployed the U.S.S.George Washington carrier and the amphibious transport dock Mesa Verde, supported by Navy and Marine aviation, to provide relief to the ravaged country after the storm, along with the hospital ship Comfort, according to ABC 13.

Tuesday evening, President de facto Jocelerme Privert said he and other government officials would be traveling to southwest Haiti to assess the damage.

“Tomorrow morning (Wednesday) as soon as weather permits it and the roads are re-opened the Government, ministers, the Prime Minister, the President, everyone in the State will travel around all the places in the country that are disaster to assess the damage, to provide answers that the circumstances require,” Privert said.

Major flooding was reported in several southern towns, including Petit Goave, where the Ladigue Bridge collapsed Tuesday, isolating southwest Haiti from the rest of the country, reports Haiti Libre.

“The river has overflowed all around us,” church pastor Louis St. Germain told CNN. “It’s terrible… a total disaster.”

A civil protection worker, left, asks residents to evacuate the area near the Grise river, prior the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Tabarre, Haiti, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. The center of Hurricane Matthew is expected to pass near or over southwestern Haiti on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of the Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, said Tuesday that information was slow to come from the areas most affected.

“It’s much too early to know how bad things are but we do know there are a lot of houses that have been destroyed or damaged in the south,” Jean-Baptiste told the AP.

(MORE: Track Hurricane Matthew)

Much of the local population were forced from their homes and at least 10,000 people were in shelters and hospitals, U.N. secretary-general’s deputy special representative for Haiti Mourad Wahba told AP. The refuge facilities became crowded and began running short of water. The roof was blown off the hospital in the city of Les Cayes.

Wahba called the hurricane’s destruction the “largest humanitarian event” in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of January 2010.

Officials have warned that the death toll could climb.

“We’ve already seen deaths. People who were out at sea. There are people who are missing. They are people who didn’t respect the alerts. They’ve lost their lives,” Interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert said at a news conference Tuesday, reports CNN.

A woman protects herself from the rain with a piece of plastic prior the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Tabarre, Haiti, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Les Cayes was reportedly underwater after being inundated by the storm, which is being blamed for triggering landslides, AFP reports.

“We have already recorded a landslide between Les Cayes and Tiburon in Haiti’s Sud department,” director of civil protection Marie-Alta Jean-Baptise told AFP.

(MORE: Southeastern U.S. Prepares for Possible Matthew Impacts)

In Les Cayes and the Valley of Jacmel, several homes lost roofs, Haiti Libre reports. In Nippes, dozens of homes were severely damaged and others were swept away by raging flood waters.

Haitian Sen. Nenel Cassy told the Miami Herald “the situation in the Nippes [region] is truly catastrophic.”

“The amount of rain we’re seeing accumulate is enormous,” the assistant director of the aid organization CARE in Haiti, Laura Sewell, told NPR Tuesday morning. Speaking from Port-au-Prince, she said she had heard informal reports of mudslides elsewhere in the country.

“What we’re looking at here is a lot of flooding,” said Sewell. “Haiti is very mountainous so there’s a good chance of landslides and mudslides.”

Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti

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hurricane-matthewHurricane Matthew left a broad swath of destruction across Haiti on Wednesday with flooding, rivers of mud that washed out a crucial bridge into the southwestern peninsula of the country and thousands seeking shelter.

Eleven people died across the Caribbean, including five in Haiti, said Haiti Ambassador Paul Altidor. There were initial reports of more than 10,000 living in shelters.

The ambassador said the government is confident the number of dead will “remain quite low.” “There was a strong motivation to keep people away from the dangerous areas,” Altidor said.

He said the government had enough advance warning to begin to move people away from dangerous, flooding areas and he believes that this saved lives.

“It’s been decades since the Caribbean has seen a hurricane of this magnitude, the heavy downpour. This is something that has not been seen in a long, long time. It is a major, major disaster.”

But Altidor said it is nowhere near the level of disaster Haiti endured in the 2010 earthquake where 200,000 died.

A United Nations representative to Haiti, Mourad Wahba, agreed the country was facing its largest humanitarian crisis since an earthquake in 2010 that left tens of thousands living in tents and makeshift dwellings. Some 55,000 Haitians left homeless by that earthquake were still living in shelters when Hurricane Matthew struck. Wahba said hospitals were jammed with people and running out of clean water.

The U.N. estimated that 2.3 million people are living in areas impacted by the hurricane. That population includes an estimated 17,000 pregnant women expected to give birth within the next three months, said Marielle Sander, a representative of UNFPA, that deals with population health issues.

On Wednesday, a U.S. Southern Command-directed team began deploying to Port-au-Prince to provide humanitarian and disaster relief assistance. The team, under direction of the U.S. Agency for International Development, set up a command center at the airport in the capital.

United Nations must admit its role in Haiti’s cholera outbreak

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A Haitian patient suffering from cholera symptoms receives hydration. (Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

By , Published: August 16

ON THIS page Thursday, the spokesman for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered a response — or something closer to a non-response — to The Post’s editorial Sunday about the United Nations’ responsibility for, and response to, Haiti’s deadly cholera epidemic .

In a letter to the editor, Martin Nesirky, the spokesman, called attention to the United Nations’ wide-ranging and critically important work in providing aid and relief to victims of the cholera outbreak, to improving the country’s infrastructure so that it is less susceptible to such outbreaks in the future and to the pressing need for donors to open their wallets to help implement Haiti’s long-range campaign to eliminate the disease.

However, Mr. Nesirky pointedly ignored the editorial’s central focus, which is that the United Nations’ responsibility derives not only from its mission as a major humanitarian relief organization, but also from the growing body of evidence that thecholera outbreak originated with U.N. peacekeepers deployed to Haiti in 2010 following a devastating earthquake.

That is the conclusion of a range of experts, including a panel enlisted by the United Nations itself and, most recently, student researchers at Yale Law School and the Yale School of Public Health.

It may be the case that lawyers for the United Nations have forbidden the organization’s officials from addressing the topic or even mentioning the battalion of blue-helmeted Nepalese peacekeepers who are widely thought to have introduced the cholera virus into the nation’s largest river and main water supply.

Nonetheless, by refusing to acknowledge responsibility, the United Nations jeopardizes its standing and moral authority in Haiti and in other countries where its personnel are deployed.

In effect, the United Nations faces two important tasks to address the outbreak, which has killed more than 8,000 peopleand sickened well over 600,000, and it has undertaken only one. To its credit, the United Nations does seem to be pressing hard to help Haiti eradicate cholera and lesson the effect of the epidemic. And it is useful to remind donors, as Mr. Nesirky did in his letter, that just half of the $444?million goal has been met to fund Haiti’s anti-cholera program.

Yet without also speaking frankly about its own responsibility for introducing cholera to Haiti, the organization does a disservice to Haiti and Haitians, who deserve better.