Haiti: homeless camp destroyed before summit

A fire swept through a camp for survivors of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince’s eastern Juvénat neighborhood the night of Feb. 16, destroying tents and leaving some 4,000 people without shelter. The inhabitants of the camp, known as Acra 2, were among as many as 350,000 people in southern Haiti who still haven’t obtained permanent shelter in the three years since their homes were destroyed or damaged by the quake.

In a press release, the Force for Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA), a grassroots housing coalition, said a five-year-old was killed in the fire, which the group blamed on “bandits” who had also killed a young camp resident, Anel Exius, during the day on Feb. 16. The Juvénat neighborhood is near the comparatively upscale suburb of Pétionville, and the camp was close to the Karibe Hotel and its convention center, the site of a Feb. 18-19 summit of leaders from the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM). FRAKKA charged that the fire could have been “a cleanup operation by the government to show to the [CARICOM] directors…that there weren’t any more Haitians living in tents.” Noting that on Feb. 21 “Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe boasted about the congratulations from the CARICOM delegations for having removed the Haitians living in tents,” the group called for an end to evictions of displaced people.

Recent evictions include the forcible removal of hundreds of people from Place Sainte Anne, a park a few blocks from the National Palace in downtown Port-au-Prince, on Jan. 12, the third anniversary of the earthquake, and the eviction of 84 families from a smaller encampment known as Fanm Koperativ (“Women of the Cooperative”) at the corner of John Brown Avenue and Capois Street, also near the National Palace. (AlterPresse, Haiti, Feb. 25; Haïti Libre, Feb. 19; Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés website, Feb. 26)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 3.