Haiti: quake survivors still being evicted from camps

At least 60,978 of the people left homeless by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Haiti in January 2010 were forcibly evicted from displaced persons camps between July 2010 and the end of 2012, according to a report released by the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) on April 23. The report, “‘Nowhere to Go’: Forced Evictions in Haiti’s Camps for Displaced People,” says that another 977 families were forcibly evicted during the first three months of 2013. The evictions have been tolerated by Haitian authorities, and in many cases government agencies have actively participated in the operations, Haitian human rights groups charge.

“The government says nothing” about the evictions, AI researcher Chiara Liquiori told an April 23 press conference in Port-au-Prince. AI noted the need for a comprehensive national housing program, especially since Haiti had an estimated deficit of 700,000 houses even before the earthquake, but for the short term the group called for the authorities to declare a moratorium on the evictions. “Forced evictions threaten nearly a quarter of the more than 320,000 people still living in camps more than three years on from the earthquake,” AI special adviser Javier Zúñiga said in a press release issued by the organization on April 23. (AI press release, April 23; AlterPresse, Haiti, April 23)

One of the camps under the threat of eviction is the Gaston Magwon camp in Carrefour, a town just west of Port-au-Prince. Some 150 families were violently driven out on Feb. 15 by police agents and men armed with machetes and knives. A baby was reportedly injured when the armed men and police damaged a shelter with the child still inside. Some of these families returned to the camp, which now holds about 650 families; they have been warned that another eviction is eminent. AI issued an urgent action asking for letters to Haitian president Michel Joseph Martelly (communications@presidentmartelly.ht) and National Police of Haiti General Director Godson Orélus (godore68@hotmail.com  calling for the authorities not to carry out more evictions at Gaston Magwon, to investigate the earlier incidents and “to seek durable solutions to the housing needs” of the earthquake’s victims. (AI urgent action, April 22)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, April 28.