Weekly News Update
April 20, 2011
The Haitian government, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (OIM) have been intensifying efforts to relocate Port-au-Prince area residents left homeless by a Jan. 12 earthquake and now living in as many as 900 improvised encampments in the capital and its suburbs. After having forcibly removed some 7,335 people from the Sylvio Cator soccer stadium the weekend of April 9, on April 12 the government said it was starting to relocate another 10,000 people.
The government opened a site it had prepared at Corail–Cesselesse, 20 km north of the city, on April 12, and as of April 16 it had moved 248 families, 896 individuals, there from a golf course in the upscale suburb of Pétionville. The OIM said it was expecting to move 2,500 people from an encampment in the Bourdon Valley in Port-au-Prince to a site in Tabarre Issa (apparently in the northwestern suburb of Tabarre).
According to the government, earthquake survivors needed to be moved to safer locations as the rainy season begins; it said the relocations were voluntary. But observers found that many of the homeless were unwilling to relocate and that the removals seemed to target improvised camps on private property that the owners wanted to put back into service. “We were told we had a week to leave, and we could go in Tabarre Issa,” Mathieu Thomson, who had been living in a tent near the Saint-Louis de Gonzague prep school, told the Agence France Presse (AFP) wire service. “But there’s nothing there. No toilets, no showers.” According to the OIM, the Tabarre Issa site has sanitation services, schools, a community garden and a soccer field.
The site in Corail–Cesselesse is “isolated,” residents told the Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GAAR), a Haitian nonprofit group, on April 14 at “Camp KID,” where about 2,000 people were living at the entrance to Christ-Roi Street. People who were to be moved to Corail from the Pétionville golf course told GARR on April 10 that they didn’t know how they would get to their schools and their jobs. “We’ll be far away from downtown Port-au-Prince, where, for better or worse, you could find little jobs,” one said, “but what will there be for us up there? Nothing.” “Sending us to Corail, isn’t that another way of leaving us to our fate, of exiling us?” asked a group of young girls. (AFP, English, April 13 via France 24; Radio Métropole, Haiti, April 16, April 17)
On April 17 members of Haiti Response Coalition (HRC), a coalition of nonprofits and international solidarity groups, reported on plans to remove 213 families, about 1,000 individuals, that morning from the grounds of a church and a private school, the Centre Pédagogique Rural Protestant, Ecole Normale de Frères, at Delmas 95. There seemed to be no effort to provide a new location for the temporary residents, who said the Methodist pastors who ran the school hadn’t spoken to them for two weeks and that they had been denied use of the facility’s water and the restrooms. The residents, many of them camped out on a basketball court, thought private security guards would be carrying out the eviction. A sign at the camp’s gate read, in French: “NOTICE TO CAMP, the Methodist yard must be cleared out on Saturday, April 17, 2010.” (Email report from HRC, April 17)
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