Thousands of Haitians have been forcibly evicted from tent camps in the nation’s capital, according to a survey by the international aid organization Oxfam on Monday. Three years after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the Caribbean nation of 10 million, 357,000 Haitians are still living in 496 makeshift encampments scattered around the capital. The report, titled “Salt in the Wound: The urgent need to prevent forced evictions from camps in Haiti,” says that 86 percent of camp dwellers lack the financial resources to find alternate housing.
Since July 2010, an estimated 60,000 Haitians have been forcibly displaced from the camps, mostly by landowners who have grown impatient with the slow pace of relocation and are eager to reclaim their property. The report finds that government workers are often complicit in the process and that women, particularly those who are heads of their household, are overwhelmingly the victims of forced evictions.
While Oxfam applauds the government’s effort to relocate some displaced Haitians through the rental-subsidy program, known as 16/6, Haiti Country Director Andrew Pugh called on President Michel Martelly’s administration to do more to protect displaced peoples from violence, intimidation and unlawful threats to evict families. The report was rebuffed by an advisor to Martelly, Salim Saccar, who said, "The government is not engaged in a policy of eviction, but it has, through the 16/6 project, taken measures to safely and permanently relocate the people living in the camps to safe and permanent shelters.”
The Oxfam report was published the same day that President Martelly gave his “State of the Country” speech in North Miami Beach, Florida in an effort to rally support among the diaspora. The president has been the target of protests in Haiti for leaving without addressing the housing crisis, choosing instead to embark on an international tour with stops in Japan, Cuba and Europe.
In the immediate aftermath of January’s earthquake in
Interest in this proposed Marshall Plan has waned since January; even as governments and development agencies continue assessing the eventual costs of rebuilding
The United Nations Association (UNA) Haiti’s “Surge” has two main goals: normalizing life for
The first months of 2010 have shown, in multiple and unexpected ways, the courage, resilience, and solidarity of the citizens of the
In my blog on March 13, I wrote about Secretary Clinton’s six country trip to the region. It was a great honor to accompany the Secretary. With each leader and citizen we met, our deep and personal engagement with our neighbors in the region was apparent. Given how much is at stake in the western hemisphere right now, I was pleased to have the opportunity to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere on March 10—and share with Members of Congress my perspectives on our relationships with countries of the region and what we want to accomplish together.
I talked about efforts by the
Two recent crises have overtaken the U.S.’s broader policy framework and agenda for the region. First, there was the coup in Honduras, now the tragedy in Haiti. The first was a potentially avoidable political train wreck that ended up dividing the hemisphere, the latter, one of the worst humanitarian disasters in the hemisphere’s history and an opportunity to unite the hemisphere.
Together the two countries, whose populations total just under 17 million people, have dominated the U.S. policy agenda in a region with close to 600 million people. In other words, we risk having lost our focus on genuine regional powers such as Brazil and looming political problems such as Venezuela by focusing on the immediate crises of just under 3 percent of the region’s population.
But there is hope. For all its heart-wrenching tragedy, Haiti is an opportunity to forge a broader hemispheric coalition and agenda in a way we failed in Honduras. Creating this historical partnership requires establishing a broad regional framework for monetary pledges, coordination, modalities, and goals of a comprehensive, long-term relief plan for Haiti that builds off Brazil and Chile’s long-standing commitment and the U.S.’s deep pockets and military and humanitarian presence.
Time, though, is running out.
Leaders of countries including Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Haiti arrived in Quito, Ecuador, on Tuesday to discuss a collective response to Haitian President René Préval’s appeal for aid. It was the first time Alvaro Uribe, president of Colombia, had visited Ecuador since 2008 when he ordered the bombing of a rebel camp on Ecuador’s side of the border. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had also planned to attend, but cancelled his trip at the last minute to attend to his country’s electricity emergency. He sent Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro in his place.
Rafael Correa, the current president of the 12-member Union of South American States, also visited Port-au-Prince on January 29 to pledge from his country as well as the regional block.
Vice President of Bolivia Álvaro García Linera, also attended, along with representatives from Argentina, Suriname, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank. The gathering was to focus exclusively on coordinating aid to Haiti, putting aside other political differences between members of the two-year-old block.
For two weeks
On January 11, 2010, the day before the earthquake struck
Mental disturbance had already emerged as a major public health concern in
“Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed.”
Those were the words of Haitian President René Préval as he described the level of damage caused by the 7.0 earthquake and multiple, comparable aftershocks that hit
For many around the world, the deluge of news covering the earthquake is the first time that the conditions in
The presidential palace was, at least at the time of my visit a little over a year ago, one of the most solid-looking buildings in
But as we drove around the potholed streets surrounding the plaza and saw the piles of garbage and rows of crumbling buildings located within a few blocks, I remember thinking of the everyday plight of ordinary Haitians.
Sadly, the building and its neighborhood have now collapsed. And no one knows how many people may be trapped in the rubble. Yesterday's 7.0-magnitude earthquake has left the presidential palace in ruins, as well as the national cathedral located downtown and a large hospital in the suburb of Pétionville. As the news continue to trickle in, I fear that many more parts of
Immediate international assistance is critical for Haiti after yesterday’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit near the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Today’s Daily Focus is dedicated to how AQ Online visitors can help.
All reports coming out of Haiti point to a catastrophic loss of life, the widespread destruction of already frail infrastructure and a looming humanitarian disaster. Haitian President René Préval described “unimaginable” destruction in his first public statement since the earthquake, reporting that “Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed.”
Haiti’s capacity to respond to such events is extremely limited and foreign aid and assistance provided by governments and non-governmental sources will be crucial.
AS/COA Online provides a comprehensive list of ways to support relief efforts. One such way is through Yele Haiti, the non-profit organization founded by Haitian musician Wyclef Jean, who spoke with Americas Quarterly for the Fall 2009 issue. Text the word “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5 to relief.
Please post your comments here on other ways to help Haiti.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.