Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Homeless Haitian earthquake victims violently evicted from tent camps in midst of rainy season (San Francisco Bay View: National Black Newspaper)

By Donald Payne, Yvette Clarke, Frederica Wilson, Maxine Waters, San Francisco Bay View
May 26, 2011

Just one week into his mandate, is this the change new President Michel Martelly promised?

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Washington, D.C. – Let Haiti Live and TransAfrica Forum are gravely concerned about the wellbeing of homeless earthquake survivors in the Delmas neighborhood of Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince. On May 23, the Haitian National Police and agents from the mayor’s office in Delmas arrived without warning and violently destroyed the makeshift shelters of internally displaced people (IDPs).

At the intersection of the airport road and the main Delmas road, it looks as though a hurricane tore through the tarps at the park. Several hundred people living in the park were evicted without warning and without a relocation plan. Piles of tarps donated by the American Red Cross and USAID are strewn amongst the few possessions these families had.

These forced evictions are taking place in the midst of the rainy season. Homeless families are now without even the most rudimentary shelter and have nowhere else to go.

The mayor of Delmas, Wilson Jeudy, announced he would continue to evict IDPs in the Delmas area. People were injured as the police swung batons. Later as people protested in front of their devastated camp, the police fired shots to disburse the crowd and continued to beat those who came within arm’s reach.

Life is becoming more untenable for victims of Haiti’s earthquake. After 17 months living under torn tarps and tents, families are now being forcibly evicted from the public and private property where they have been living for more than a year.

President Michel Martelly has a pilot program to relocate six camps, at least three during his first 100 days in office. If yesterday is any indicator, these evictions will be done without due process, without community consultation, without any known plan for relocation and with violence.

President Martelly promised to resolve the problem of IDPs on both public and private land, but after his campaign for change, many did not believe he would continue with illegal forced evictions. Neither President Martelly nor his representatives were at the scene of the violent destruction in Delmas today.

Also missing from the scene were representatives of the United Nations’ Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster. And despite being responsible for management of the camps, the CCCM’s leadership from the Organization for International Migration (OIM) canceled this week’s cluster meeting. OCHA recently reported that at least 50 percent of IDP camps were under threat of forced eviction, yet evictions and relocation did not even appear as main issues for the CCCM this week.

For more information and to help spread the word, contact Nicole C. Lee, Esq., president of TransAfrica Forum (U.S. – English), (202) 270-0774; Etant Dupain, director of Bri Kouri Nouvel Gaye (Haiti – Creole, Spanish, French), +509-3768-0221; Melinda Miles, director of Let Haiti Live (U.S. – English, Creole), (413) 923-8345. For more photos of the destroyed camp, see Etant Dupain Photos.

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