Haiti: government suspends forced evictions

The Haitian government decided on April 22 to declare a three-week moratorium on forced evictions of homeless Port-au-Prince residents from improvised encampments at schools and other private property where they have been living since a Jan. 12 earthquake devastated much of southern Haiti. The government made the decision because “there are a lot of tensions,” Edmond Mulet, a Guatemalan diplomat and the acting head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said at a press conference later on April 22. “There are pupils who want to return to their schools to continue their studies; there are displaced people who are installed in the schools,” Mulet explained. “Well, instead of having confrontations, a moratorium has been established.” (Radio Métropole, Haiti, April 23 from AFP)

The Haitian government had been evicting thousands of people from the encampments since early April, from sites that included private schools, a golf course and a soccer stadium. Although the government claimed the homeless would be moved to two new camps prepared outside the city, by most accounts many people were left living in the street.

On April 14 the nonprofit Bagay Dwol [“Strange Things”] Haiti Relief Fund reported on evictions at Caradeux Delmas 75, in eastern Port-au-Prince, where it said some 3,200 families were living in five camps: Camp Benediction, “Toto” Terrain Crisis Committee (CCTT), Camp Canaan, Refugee Camp and Camp Toussaint Louverture. Residents said government bulldozers came without warning the evening of April 4 with Haitian National Police (PNH) escorts. “The use of batons [was] reported, and firearms were discharged into the air six times. The residents then reported that their homes were destroyed, first by the officers and then by the…bulldozers.” This continued for three nights, driving out 500 residents, who are “now living on the streets,” according to the remaining camp residents. (Bagay Dwol blog, April 14; Christian Science Monitor, April 20)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 25.

See our last post on Haiti.