Written by tom
This week we joined with an international coalition, including grassroots groups in Haiti, in calling on the government of Haiti to stop evictions from camps housing people who were displaced by the January 2010 earthquake, until there is a comprehensive national housing plan is in place. Please sign the petition and forward information to your friends. Below is some background on the current situation with links to more detailed reports. The website above (undertentshaiti.com) has a host of resources and background materials concerning the situation of people living in camps in Haiti. Be sure to check it out!
It was reported last week the number of people living in camps for the internally displaced in Haiti has fallen to below 400,000, from a peak of 1.5 million in July of 2010. Behind these numbers, however, are a lot of questions about where people have actually gone. There is little evidence that people are leaving camps for any kind of sustainable solutions. Indeed, large numbers of people are simply being forced to leave camps with no alternative in place.
Last week Kevin Edmonds of NACLA reported on the reduction, capturing much of the frustration within Haiti about how people in camps are being treated:
It’s one thing to be proud of an accomplishment, such as reducing the amount of homelessness by constructing homes—but it is irresponsible and criminal to attack, forcefully evict, and destroy thousands of shelters consisting of battered tents and tarps, then brag internationally about seeing a reduction in the levels of visible homelessness. Yet this is exactly what is happening right now in Haiti. Unfortunately the forced eviction of the internally displaced not a new phenomenon. If this is the way success is measured by the Haitian government and the International Organization of Migration (IOM), it should come as no surprise why some of Haiti’s most vulnerable are increasingly protesting their living conditions and the constant threat of eviction.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research also raised questions about the new numbers, providing a detailed overview of evidence concerning displacement. They note that even the IOM spokesperson is hesitant to be too celebratory the numbers:
While previous reports of IDP population decreases were held up uncritically as signs of progress, this time IOM spokesperson Leonard Doyle provided a more nuanced response. While the government-backed relocation efforts have only reached a small portion of the IDP population, Doyle notes that “As for the rest we don’t know [where they ended up],” adding, “[a] lot of these people we know have pitched tents on the side of the mountains.” Indeed, a simple look at the available numbers suggests that many of those that have left the IDP camps monitored by the IOM have not found adequate shelter.
The IOM touts a 75 percent reduction in the camp population since July 2010, amounting to a decrease of over 1.1 million people. Yet as of April 2012, only 12,000 rental subsidies were given out, 13,000 houses were repaired and just fewer than 5,000 new homes were constructed. In total, these three solutions account for only about 12 percent of the reduction in IDP population. Additionally, about 108,000 transitional shelters have been built, which would account for an additional 42 percent. However this likely overstates the effects of the transitional shelter, as it is estimated that only about 40 percent of transitional shelters actually went to IDPs.
President Martelly has focused much attention on his “16/6″ plan in which people in 6 camps are to be relocated, some being offered $500 to help subsidize rent payments. The scale of the program is quite small given the overall needs, and there seems to be no other initiative on the horizon. Roger Annis & Kim Ives report:
For almost one year now, the government of President Michel Martelly has trumpeted a program entitled ‘16/6′ under which about 30,000 residents of six large camps would be resettled to their original but repaired 16 neighborhoods, all of which were badly damaged by the quake. The program has been heavily supported by foreign governments, including Canada. To encourage people to leave camps, residents were told they will receive a one-year rental subsidy of $500 per family.
But Alexandre Louissaint, the leader of the camp in the capital’s Christ-Roi neighborhood, complained that his camp, like many others, is not covered by the ‘16/6′ program and has been completely neglected. “We have never received any visit, either from the government or from the NGOs,” Louissaint said. “Martelly’s 16/6 program is a complete fraud.”
Rénel Sanon said that camp residents were being terrorized. “Bandits have set fire to many camps including the Toussaint Louverture camp, the Place Mosaulée camp, the Mormonts camp, where tents were burned, and the Eddy François camp at Mon Repos, Carrefour,” he told Haïti Liberté. “We have also organized this demonstration to denounce the conduct of Pastor Joel Jeune at the Grace Village camp in Lamentin 52 and 54. Accompanied by armed thugs, he continues to persecute the displaced.”
Forced evictions must be halted and a comprehensive housing program launched. Please join this campaign and sign the petition here!