Clinton, IHRC Accused of Providing 'Life Threatening' Shelters to Léogâne's School Children

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Friday, 15 July 2011 16:07

LEOGANE, Haiti - One of the first projects approved by the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) was to provide transitional classrooms for school children and emergency shelters in the case of severe weather.

The shelters are now facing severe criticism as the trailers were found to contain life threatening levels of mold, formaldehyde, heat and be of insufficient strength to withstand tropical storms.

The investigation conducted by the Investigative Fund and Nation magazine exposed problems with the trailers. "They were plagued by mold, extreme heat and formaldehyde emissions. In addition, a leading structural engineer found them not to be hurricane-proof."

The Clinton Foundation, founded by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who also serves as head of the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti and Chairman of the IHRC, was given charge over the project and on Tuesday announced a plan to send experts to investigate the shoddy shelters.

Chief Operating Officer of the Clinton Foundation, Laura Graham was quoted by the Associate Press saying that the foundation plans to send experts to Haiti to explore the allegations and fix any “structural deficiencies” in the trailers.

On Thursday, Dr. Paul Farmer, who serves as Clinton’s Deputy special envoy for Haiti, in a recording for Democracy Now! said that he would personally look into the issues raised in the investigation, which received additional support from the Canadian Centre for Investigative Reporting.

The Investigative Fund reported that:

"...laboratory tests found that one of the trailers has an unsafe level of formaldehyde. The temperature inside the trailers, which were used as classrooms by more than a thousand Haitian school children this year, regularly exceeds 100 degrees, a byproduct of the Clinton Foundation’s failure to provide electricity generators, as it had originally told the Recovery Commission it would. And despite an epidemic of cholera, a disease that is easily preventable with proper sanitation, the foundation has likewise failed to follow through on building the restrooms it told the commission would be part of the construction project."

"June marked the beginning of Haiti's hurricane season, and meteorologists project that Haiti could face up to eighteen tropical storms this year. The town that received the faulty trailers, Léogâne, which was flooded by Hurricane Tomas last year, is relying on them as Plan A in the municipality's emergency response."

COO Laura Graham indicated that the Clinton Foundation awarded the contract to Clayton Homes, a manufacturer currently being sued by Hurricane Katrina (New Orleans Louisiana) survivors who were exposed to unsafe levels of formaldehyde in the mobile homes Clayton sold to the U.S. Federala Emergency and Management Administration (FEMA).

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