Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

RNDDH presents an analysis of the situation in the country six (6) months after the earthquake of January 12, 2010

From RNDDH

On January 12th, 2010, Haiti experienced an unprecedented disaster whose human and material losses are incalculable. The official death toll reported two hundred twenty two thousand five hundred and seventeen (222, 517) deaths and two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) injured. Nearly two hundred fifty thousand (250,000) buildings were destroyed or damaged.

International solidarity has not been slow to materialize given the extent of damage. Indeed, a massive amount of humanitarian aid was made available for victims and survivors of the earthquake.

Conferences for the reconstruction of Haiti were held here and there, and recycled again and again promises from all sides. Meanwhile, the Haitian government has announced significant measures. What about the situation of the country six (6) months later? What are the results of interventions?

Six months later, the country’s situation remains worrying. Unemployment has been exacerbated by the disappearance of several companies that previously provided jobs, and the capitalization of formal and informal merchants. The population is still living in makeshift camps in the aftermath of the earthquake. Many forced evictions have been recorded particularly in camps located on private land, which resulted in an increase in the number of IDPs in public squares and streets of the capital.

The international community through the United Nations Organization (UNO), has invested at different levels: relief, medical care, food aid and non-food assistance, temporary shelters, etc.. During the first few months, the support of the international community on the ground was visible. Today, however, the queue distribution, field hospitals and mobile clinics have disappeared while paradoxically, the situation of victims has not changed.

State authorities have, meanwhile, announced a package of measures to address the problems caused by the earthquake. These measures include the removal and burial of corpses that littered the streets, the assessment of buildings, cleaning streets and collecting rubbish, the reopening of classes, the relocation of victims who have fled areas at risk, the clearing of watersheds and structures in preparation for the rainy season and the revival of national production with great attention to agriculture.

In a total indignity, the bodies were collected by the National Center Equipment (CNE) to be thrown into mass graves. The government banned all construction and repair of damaged houses until the publication of an appropriate building assessment and reconstruction plan for areas of the country. Since March 2010, the assessment process for houses in the metropolitan area has begun. However, these operations are going slowly and, despite the building ban, many people engage in rebuilding or repairing their houses. In addition, some homes valued and aggregated by the experts in the category of houses to be demolished are being repaired and inhabited. The streets are choked with piles of rubble causing traffic jams.

The reopening of classes was given at great sacrifice. Amid crisis, many students could not head back to school since the State had unilaterally decided to help institutions to the detriment of congregational religious schools. In addition, several families having been ruined by the earthquake, had to choose to keep their children at home, as they were not able to cope with the exorbitant demands of school principals.

Eight (8) properties totaling one hundred fifty (150) acres of land have been requisitioned by the Haitian State to relocate the victims. To date, five thousand (5,000) persons representing approximately 3.8% of IDPs have been relocated to the site of Coral Cesselesse . The work of sanitation in these areas is lacking. There are only a few international agencies trying to develop projects in this direction, under the label Cash for Work .

The rainy season is in full swing, and the relocated people are left to themselves. Their situation has not changed compared to previous conditions. Indeed, relocated victims abandon tents, and tarps, to live under new tents located in isolated areas where access to basic services is difficult or impossible. These sites, not electrified, without walls, located on barren lands, are located in areas devoid of economic activities.

Today, the number of people suffering from physical disabilities is estimated at eight hundred and six thousand (806,000). But no plan has been established by the Haitian authorities that takes into account the specific circumstances of these people. These victims are left in the hands of institutions working for the rights of persons with disabilities. Meanwhile, at least four hundred fifty thousand (450,000) children are in the camps, among them, orphans and mothers who are exposed to all sorts of abuses.

From the foregoing, RNDDH notes that both national and international actors have failed to implement promises made to the Haitian people, and as of six (6) months later, little has changed. This causes a stinging defeat, whose profound ramifications are found in the constant bad governance and non-participation of victims in developing programs of humanitarian assistance and in the reconstruction of the country. Indeed, the Executive was unable to present a reconstruction program that reflects the aspirations of the Haitian people. It has invested in short term projects, deflecting the victims who gathered in tents and relocate them in other tents. Instead of thinking about the future of the country, the executive looks at trivialities such as the extension of a few months in office of President Rene Preval, the creation of a joint commission composed of foreigners and Haitians, vested with unlimited powers and responsibility to implement the national reconstruction program developed by the International community and the executive.

Moreover, the victims to whom they were developed for humanitarian programs have not at any time, been consulted on their priorities. International agencies have imposed their choice of food and nonfood aid. Consequently, the victims have all shown a continuing dissatisfaction vis-à-vis the humanitarian aid distributed in indignity.

Moreover, for more than two (2) months, the challenges are multiplying across the country demanding the resignation of the President of the Republic and the departure of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), a discredited institution with demonstrated total dependence vis-à-vis the Executive. However, the Executive seems to want to push forward with the elections despite the fact that the major political parties approved by the PRC claim to be losing faith in this board and have also demanded its’ departure.

RNDDH believes there is still time for those in power, to recover by taking steps to rebuild the country on a new basis of political, economic and social policies and set the limits of intervention of the international community. In this sense, RNDDH directs the authorities concerned to:

• develop a reconstruction plan which focuses on human rights;

• Invest in a national reconstruction based on a decentralization of the country;

• Ensuring the safety of persons and property with special attention to those most vulnerable;

• Provide hard plastic shelter to victims instead of tents, tarpaulins and blankets;

• Create the conditions necessary for conducting free and democratic elections;

• Ensure respect for economic, social and cultural rights of all citizens.

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