Haiti Earthquake Survivors Peacefully Demonstrate to Call Attention to the Forced Expulsions and Horrific Conditions in Camps
Seven Months After Catastrophe: No Solutions and No Assistance
Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Thursday, August 12, 10AM Sit-in in front of the National Palace.
Force for Reflection and Action on the Housing Cause (FRAKKA), Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), Batay Ouvrière (B.O), KOOTK, OVS, COSEM, Immaculé, Deplace, CUSLG, Camp Mezyan, Babankou and other Internally displaced people under threat of expulsion, invite the international and national press and community to their sit-in in front of Haiti’s National Palace 11am EST on August 12. Seven months after the tragic earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left more than one and half million survivors homeless, the most vulnerable are organizing to demand a moratorium on forced evictions, which are happening in violation of Haitian and international law. The government must immediately provide humane alternatives to the muddy, dangerous, unsanitary and simply brutal living conditions by verifying ownership titles, and nationalizing by decree all empty and idle lands in the hands of large landowners. The thousands who cannot leave their camps for fear of expulsion or lack of transport funds will participate in the protest by banging pots at noon (1pm EST) within the tent cities throughout Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns.
While international aid agencies and the United Nations readily admit that the camps do not meet international standards for internally displaced people, at the same time non-governmental organizations, charities and the Haitian Government are unwilling to provide basic services to these victims.
Food distributions have come to a halt and many aid agencies are intentionally withholding necessary and fundamental services such as latrines, water, food and medical aid, in order to force earthquake victims to abandon the camps that currently exist in former parks, school grounds and churchyards. However, no feasible plans exist to relocate these families.
Through the generosity of people throughout the world, more than one billion dollars has already been donated to charities. “Haitians who lost loved ones, homes and all their belongings are now out in the merciless summer sun all day, then soaked to the bone by rains each night,” explains Melinda Miles, director of Let Haiti Live and Coordinator of the Haiti Response Coalition. “They are deprived of fundamental human rights – access to food, water, shelter – and have no other place to go.”
The U.S. government and UN agencies all point to the Haitian Government’s inability to provide land for resettlement, referring to controversies around land tenure and eminent domain. However in the past, eminent domain has not been an issue when the government has needed to appropriate land for building roads or factories. The current situation is illustrative of a historical precedent of private property being more important than the rights of the poor.
“The law is perfectly clear,” according to prominent human rights attorney Mario Joseph. “There is a problem of political will and a problem of exclusion. The poor have been excluded from their land for years, and are now excluded from the process determining their rights to lodgings.”
In addition to demanding immediate solutions for the internally displaced people such as viable land for relocation and resumption of basic services without further delay, demonstrators are demanding that forced evictions and violent expulsions cease, and the Haitian Government and Haitian National Police enforce a mandatory moratorium on forced removals until suitable alternatives are in place.
Contacts: Melinda Miles 011-509-3855-8861 and Attorney Mario Joseph 3701-9879