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Ongoing Displacement, Strained Camps and Threats Posed by Hurricane Season

Created April 13, 2011

DOS 2010 Report. Haiti, at 13-14.

“Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)

“More than a million people were displaced by the January 12 earthquake.

“Approximately 500,000 IDPs left for other parts of the country to stay with family or friends, and an estimated 20 percent of those who fled the city remained in the provinces, severely straining provincial and other resources.”

“By the end of December [2010], approximately one million earthquake-affected individuals remained displaced in more than 1,150 spontaneous and planned settlement sites in and around Port -au-Prince, with temporary housing and difficult living conditions...

“MINUSTAH estimated that more than 8,000 displaced individuals have been subject to forced evictions ... by private property owners or gang members who seek to resume pre- earthquake operations. More than 11,000 others remained in situations that place them at risk of involuntary evictions and secondary displacement by private property owners.

IACHRPR 114/10.

“The IACHR also received information regarding forced evictions. This situation has reportedly arisen in five IDP camps created by families that set up tents in open fields, either on public or private property, after their homes were destroyed by the earthquake. The information received indicates that in some cases these evictions were carried out by landowners and in other cases by members of public law enforcement agencies in order to establish official camps. For example, it is alleged that members of the National Police arrived to an IDP camp in the nighttime hours and, with no prior notice, began to raze the shelters using bulldozers. The inhabitants built new structures in an area adjoining the original IDP camp, and some weeks later, these were also said to have been destroyed. The government reportedly built an official camp for displaced persons on the site of the original camp, whose members now live alongside the official camp. According to the information that was provided, the situation involves some 500 people who live in absolutely precarious conditions and are not allowed to use the official camp's water or sanitation services or to participate in its food program.

“...The IACHR has also decided to grant precautionary measures in relation to the forcible evictions from the IDP camps.

UNHRC Report on Haiti, Annex, at 5.

“Internally displaced persons

  1. It is difficult to produce an accurate estimate of the number of internally displaced persons. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has undertaken a vast census... to gather reliable information about some 2.1 million persons displaced throughout the country... Most of these displaced persons are living in makeshift camps or with friends or family in Port-au- Prince and other towns. ... [T]he independent expert was able to visit makeshift camps and talk to the persons living there in extremely harsh conditions.
  2. ... [A]t the beginning of April [2010,] there were 1,300 displaced persons sites, including 921 in Port-au-Prince, and IOM speaks of more than 2 million displaced persons. However, several of these sites are located on flood plains, a worrying factor as the rainy season approaches.
  3. ...[F]inding safer shelters during the rainy season...is very complicated owing to the difficulty of finding available land, problems connected with ownership and the negotiation of compensation for occupying land or with decisions to requisition land for setting up camps.

“19. ... The independent expert also visited camps set up and managed by international organizations, ranging from simple tents to more solid wooden houses. The disparity of the conditions in these camps and the nature of their equipment cause inevitable worry as the season of rains and cyclones approaches, for some of them are visibly better prepared than others to withstand the impact of the natural elements on camp life.

22.[A] number of national and international experts are worried about the tempo and modalities of these operations to relocate internally displaced persons owing to the very large numbers concerned and the confusion and lack of information about the status of the families eligible for aid.

23. In fact, these camps have not been set up without arousing envy, especially among the poorest people, who find it hard to understand why some persons are eligible for rehousing while others are not...

25. ... [T]he municipal representatives interviewed pointed out the difficulties caused by the influx of thousands of persons and the impact on their local infrastructure, which had been unprepared to cope with overcrowding on that scale....

UNHRC Report on Haiti, at 8. “Forced Eviction

“32. Out of necessity, people finding themselves in danger or in precarious circumstances moved into makeshift camps ... After several weeks of relative tolerance some owners sought to regain the use of their property and began to take action to evict people against their will, sometimes by persuasion or threats but sometimes by sending in gangs or requesting intervention by the police, which intervened in some cases notwithstanding the absence of any judicial decision authorizing action by the forces of law and order.

MINUSTAH Report at 6.

“23. Another new challenge is ensuring security in large settlements for internally displaced persons, including prevention of gender-based violence, where deteriorating living conditions, overcrowding and poor lighting are expected to contribute to a rise in crime. Physical damage to rule of law institutions further compounds this problem. There are also many broader challenges to the protection of the displaced population, who are dispersed across more than 1,300 sites, including obstacles to delivery of aid and the health risks associated with overcrowding, inadequate water supplies and poor sanitation. Higher levels of unemployment, loss of property and savings, and trauma arising from the events of 12 January also contribute to an environment of heightened vulnerability in Haiti.

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