By Haiti Libre
June 25, 2011
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights United Nations (OHCHR) in Haiti is deeply concerned by the situation of respect of the right of people to adequate housing, and more particularly with regard to persons living in the camps that formed after the earthquake and in informal communities.
The right to adequate housing is linked to other rights, such as: rights to health, employment, education and physical integrity of the person and it requires resources economic as well as access to water and sanitation. OHCHR in Haiti considers that a successful reconstruction and a secure and a long-term stabilization of the country will depend in part of the respect of the right to adequate housing.
To make recommendations on the housing situation and reconstruction efforts to the Government of Haiti and the international community, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Ms. Raquel Rolnik, conducted a working visit to Haiti from June 8 to 11, 2011 http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-3146-haiti-reconstruction-the-housing-crisis-in-haiti-is-not-a-consequence-of-the-earthquake.html
Some people live in camps because of the loss of their homes in the quake while others have moved into camps to escape harsh living conditions in informal communities. OHCHR recognizes the exceptional challenge to the Haitian authorities in the development of sustainable solutions for hundreds of thousands of people in camps and spontaneous housing. The municipal authorities must respond to demands often competing to close the camps that occupy private land, or that obstruct the schools, roads and other public spaces, while providing support to people and preventing crime. However, as mentioned by the Special Rapporteur during her visit, “the expulsion of persons without providing suitable alternative accommodation is a violation of international human rights.”
Throughout 2010, OHCHR, repeatedly urged the Government of Haiti to take a holistic approach providing a reasonable time for closing the camps, together with the construction of alternative housing. OHCHR joined the Special Rapporteur to congratulate the newly elected authorities to have expressed their willingness to work with the humanitarian community and to prepare an initial strategy for the closure of six camps in accordance with international standards. The Special Rapporteur emphasized that the selection of camps to be closed in priority are based on vulnerability criteria. The Office of the High Commissioner stresses the importance to the Haitian authorities, to ensure that the closure of these camps specific be part of a comprehensive plan that can really be implemented as part of the right to adequate housing for all, both in the camps than in the informal housing. The selection of these six camps does not constitute a solution to the broader problem of the relocation.
OHCHR believes that neither the Government nor the municipal authorities do not wish the closure of camps at any price. OHCHR recommends to the Government to ensure that the closure of the camps is conducted in accordance with international law, and encourages the Government and the international community to envisage an increasing support to the municipal authorities in this regard.