Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Hurricane Tomas: Anticipated Destruction Will Be a Man-Made, Not Natural Disaster

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Hurricane Tomas: Anticipated Destruction Will Be a Man-Made, Not Natural Disaster


Although Tomas’ winds and rain are a natural phenomenon, the extreme damage the cyclone will inflict on Haiti is in large part the result of a decades-long series of policies that have left Haitians excessively vulnerable to environmental stresses. Any serious discussion of the storm’s damage – or the damage from cholera or Haiti’s January 12 earthquake – should examine these policies implemented by the Government of Haiti and the international community, both before and after the earthquake, including:

a)      A flawed international response to the earthquake, especially a failure to provide safe housing for the approximately 1.3 million people displaced by the earthquake and living in tent cities, and the failure to deliver promised funds;

b)      A failed response by the Haitian government to the earthquake, including a failure to provide safe areas for emergency and transitional housing after the earthquake or effectively implement projects responding to the four hurricanes that struck Haiti in 2008; and

c)      International aid, trade, debt and governance policies that have made Haiti dependent on foreign food and materials, forced Haitian farmers off their land and into the low-lying cities, encouraged the deforestation of Haiti’s hillsides and limited the Haitian government’s ability to provide basic services to its citizens, including healthcare, housing and sanitation services.


Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Annie Gell,, +509-3610-2882
(conditions on the ground, especially in IDP camps, impact of storm on women).

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) New York, NY.
Laura Raymond, 212-614-6459
(U.S./Haiti relations, trade and governance policies, parallels between Haiti and New Orleans).

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) Washington, DC.
Dan Beeton,, 202-239-1460
(economic factors in Haiti’s vulnerability to stresses).

Let Haiti Live Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Melinda Miles,,+509-3855-8861
(conditions on the ground, role of environmental destruction, trade and aid policies, earthquake response).

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), Boston MA.
Brian Concannon,, 617-652-0876
(history of US/Haiti relations, governance and human rights in Haiti).

International Action Ties, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Mark Snyder, +509-3905-6513
(conditions in the camps and the response from January to present).

TransAfrica Forum (TAF), Washington DC.
Nora Rasman, , 202-553-7186
(U.S. policy towards Haiti, earthquake response).

You.Me.We., New York, NY.
Kathleen Bergin,, 857-222-6175
(unlawful camp evictions, housing right violations, international human rights law in natural disaster).

Contact IJDH

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