Following January’s earthquake, many Haitians welcomed the arrival of overseas agencies and were apparently distrustful of leaders they said were corrupt. However, the mood seems to be changing. Walls along the road between Port-au-Prince airport and a UN base now bear graffiti which reads ‘Down with NGO thieves’. Haitian leaders, too, frustrated that much of the aid money raised for the country is going to UN agencies and foreign NGOs instead of to them, are voicing increased criticism of foreign aid groups that they claim are unaccountable. ‘The NGOs don’t tell us … where the money’s coming from or how they’re spending it,’ Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told The Associated Press.
The criticisms are endorsed by the top UN official in Haiti. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, said that foreign and Haiti-based NGOs were doing ‘little things with little impact’ – they do not coordinate, they take on too many roles, and they swarm well-known neighbourhoods while leaving others untouched, he said.