One Year After Quake: Million Plus Remain Homeless and Displaced in Haiti

Submitted by Bill Quigley on Tue, 01/11/2011 - 15:44
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by Bill Quigley and Jeena Shah

Statistical tricks are being used to minimize Haiti’s gargantuan homeless crisis. An outfit called the International Organization for Migration is claiming false “progress” in resettling earthquake victims based on the fact that thousands have left displacement camps. However, that’s an illusion, since “of an estimated 1,268 displacement camps, at least 29% have been forcibly closed – meaning tens of thousands of people have been evicted.” And “people moving from displacement camps in the city to living in a tent in the countryside have not really moved out of homelessness, they have just moved.”

 

One Year After Quake: Million Plus Remain Homeless and Displaced in Haiti

by Bill Quigley and Jeena Shah

Moving from one type of homelessness to another cannot be allowed to be declared progress.”

One year after the January 12, 2010 earthquake, more than a million people remain homeless in Haiti. Homemade shelters and tents are everywhere in Port au Prince. People are living under plastic tarps or sheets in concrete parks, up to the edge of major streets, in the side streets, behind buildings, in between buildings, on the sides of hills, literally everywhere.

UNICEF estimates that more than 1 million people – 380,000 of them children – still live in displacement camps.

The recovery process” as UNICEF says, “is just beginning.”

One of the critical questions is how many people remain without adequate housing. While there are fewer big camps of homeless and displaced people, there has been extremely little rebuilding. The UN reported that 97,000 tents have been provided since the quake. Tents are an improvement over living under a sheet but they are not homes. Many families have lived many places in the last year circulating from rough shelters to tents to camps to other camps to living alongside other families.

It is important to understand that families may leave the huge unsupervised camps and still be homeless someplace else – like a tent in another part of the city or country. Moving from one type of homelessness to another cannot be allowed to be declared progress against homelessness and displacement.

The key human rights goal is housing, not moving out of the displacement camps.

The IOM report does not even try to track where displaced persons go after they leave a particular camp.”

One illustration of the housing challenge facing the Haitian people can be found in a recent report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The IOM December report announced a reduction in the number of persons remaining in displacement camps. The IOM then wrongly concluded that the number of people displaced and homeless was reduced accordingly. Why is this conclusion wrong? Because the IOM report does not even try to track where displaced persons go after they leave a particular camp. They equate homeless families moving out of displacement camps as families finding housing.

These types of erroneous conclusions are not only misleading but threaten to hinder badly needed relief efforts one year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake.

Careful consideration of the IOM report provides an opportunity to examine some of the many important housing challenges still facing Haitians.

IOM Assertion: “We finally start to see light at the end of the tunnel for the earthquake-affected population…these are hopeful signs that many victims of the quake are getting on with their lives.” IOM reported there has been a 31% decrease in the number of internally displaced people living on IDP sites in Haiti since July.

Fact: Getting on with their lives? Of an estimated 1,268 displacement camps, at least 29% have been forcibly closed – meaning tens of thousands of people have been evicted, often through violent means. Many who are forcibly evicted from one site move on to set up camp for their families in another location, which is often more dangerous. This is not getting on with life; this is searching for less dangerous places for the family tent.

Only 2,074 of the estimated 180,000 destroyed houses had been repaired and a small percentage of rubble had been cleared.”

IOM Assertion: People with houses labeled red (uninhabitable or extremely dangerous) or yellow (in need of repair) have “chosen to return to the place of origin or nearby to establish a shelter.”

Fact: As of December 16, 2010, only 2,074 of the estimated 180,000 destroyed houses had been repaired and a small percentage of rubble had been cleared. Decisions by desperate homeowners to move back into still destroyed homes is hardly progress.

It is also not even possible for large numbers of people who were renters to return to their destroyed homes. The destruction of more than 180,000 private residences coupled with influx of international aid workers has made Haiti’s rental market soar. An estimated 80% of those rendered homeless by the earthquake were renters or occupiers of homes without any formal land title. Current rents are unreachable by the majority of displaced Haitians, many of whom who lost their means of livelihood during the earthquake. The IOM admits “The lack of land tenure and the destruction of many houses in already congested slums left many of those displaced with few options but to remain in shelters.”

IOM Assertion: “Some households rendered homeless after the earthquake left congested Port au Prince all-together going home to the regions. Others sent their children to the countryside for a better life.”

Fact: Rural Haiti before the earthquake was home to 52% of the population, 88% of which was poor and 67% was extremely poor. Rural residents had a per capita income one third of the income of people living in urban areas and extremely limited access to basic services. Disaster response following the earthquake has not tackled the extreme structural violence that exists in rural areas, and Hurricane Tomas further destroyed livelihoods of rural communities. People moving from displacement camps in the city to living in a tent in the countryside have not really moved out of homelessness, they have just moved.

An estimated 80% of those rendered homeless by the earthquake were renters or occupiers of homes without any formal land title.”

IOM Assertion: “Surviving in poor living conditions during the long hurricane season has persuaded many to seek alternative housing solutions.”

Fact: Homeless people are always seeking “alternative housing solutions.” Camp conditions even before Hurricane Tomas and the cholera outbreak revealed that displaced Haitians were in camps because they had no “alternative housing solutions.” According to a study conducted by CUNY Professor Mark Schuller before both Hurricane Tomas and the outbreak of cholera, 40% of displacement camps did not have access to water, and 30% did not have toilets of any kind. Only 10% of families even had a tent, many of which were ripped beyond repair during the hurricane season; the rest were sleeping under tarps or even bed sheets. A study conducted even earlier by the Institute of Justice & Democracy in Haiti found that 78% of families lived without enclosed shelter; 44% of families primarily drank untreated water; 27% of families defecated in a container, a plastic bag, or on open ground in the camps; and 75% of families had someone go an entire day without eating during one week and over 50% had children who did not eat for an entire day.

Human rights promise housing, not just forcing people away from displacement camps. Haiti needs practical and sustainable solutions for re-housing along with services and protections for the people still homeless.

One year later, it is critically important for the international community to assist Haitians to secure real housing. The million homeless Haitians and the hundreds of thousands who have moved out of the large homeless camps into other areas are our sisters and brothers and still need our solidarity and help.

Bill Quigley is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans and a long-time Haiti advocate. Jeena Shah is a lawyer serving in Port au Prince as a Lawyers’ Earthquake Response Network Fellow with the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com and Jeena at Jeena@ijdh.org

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Haiti One Year Later: Obama's Genocide

Submitted by Cynical Negro on Sat, 01/15/2011 - 20:11.

http://www.larouchepac.com/node/17185

"Yesterday, on the one-year anniversary of the horrific Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which killed 316,000 people, according to the latest estimates, the print and electronic media are filled with stories of how slow the post-earthquake reconstruction has been, how millions are still homeless, sick and suffering, facing a spreading cholera epidemic, and "several more years" before any real improvement will be seen.

"The culprits blamed for what everyone chooses to call a "challenging" situation, vary — corrupt government, corrupt NGOs, unwieldy international bureaucracies, etc., etc.

"What no one dares say, with the exception of economist Lyndon LaRouche, is that the person responsible for the genocide against the Haitian people is the madman in the White House, Barack Obama. Very soon after the earthquake, Obama was presented with a policy for Haiti that would have worked—a deployment of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and affiliated agencies to relocate the homeless and displaced out of hellish camps, to higher ground, using all the expertise and experience USACE has gained over decades.

"In its March 12, 2010 issue, under the headline, "How Many Haitians Must Die Before We Impeach Obama?" Executive Intelligence Review outlined a detailed emergency program which, had it been implemented, would have saved the lives of millions of Haitians:

http://www.larouchepub.com/pr/2010/100310eir_haiti_plan.html

http://www.larouchepub.com/other/2010/3710hatians_die_obama.html

The Nero in the White House rejected this workable proposal and opted instead for genocide.

"As LaRouche stated yesterday in the LPAC "Weekly Report," what Obama is doing "is identical with what Hitler did in 1939...with the same kind of program of genocide, of mass killing."
"And it's not just on the issue of healthcare. He is responsible for the fact that at least one million people still "live"—if it can be called that—in wretched tent cities in Port-au-Prince, unprotected from the elements, lacking clean water, sanitation facilities, food, and at the mercy of NGOs, many of which argue that providing people with clean water and other basic necessities should be stopped, because it makes them "lazy," and unwilling to work.

"Under unsanitary conditions, the camps became the breeding ground for the cholera epidemic which erupted in late October, and spread like wildfire, killing almost 3,700 people to date, with over 18,000 infected. Moreover, almost all international health authorities readily admit that the official statistics are inaccurate, given the likelihood that many people die in remote areas before ever reaching cholera clinics, which are few and far between. The World Health Organization admitted yesterday, that the epidemic is nowhere close to "peaking."

"According to Haiti's Public Works Minister, of the 390,500 buildings destroyed by the earthquake in the capital, fewer than 1,000 have been repaired. About a quarter of one percent. Only 10 million cubic meters of debris have been cleared in the city—about 5%—and the prospects for building even temporary shelter for those displaced still living in camps, remain nil."

Russia Today

Submitted by Cynical Negro on Thu, 01/13/2011 - 10:04.

CrossTalk on Haiti: Year of Agony

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZE3_cumr84

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