Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haitians Seeking National ID Cards Say Government Is Violating Its Own COVID-19 Directives

Originally published in VOA News by Sandra Lemaire and Matiado Vilme

WASHINGTON/PORT-AU-PRINCE – Not far from the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s National Identification Office (Office Nationale d’Identification) is packed with hundreds of people seeking national ID cards this week, despite the government’s directive to stay home and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.

The office is noisy, it’s chaotic, the room is not big enough for all the people lined up. Water and snack merchants holding rectangular-shaped plastic containers on their heads stroll around the room, looking for customers.

Outside, a coronavirus alert is posted on a digital billboard. “Wash your hands often, stand at least two meters apart,” it advises, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A woman standing in the long line is frustrated.

“They’ve asked churches, schools to shutter – but how many people are in this room?” she complained. “There are more people here than in a classroom,” she told VOA. “Most classrooms hold 22 students, how many people do you see in here? There isn’t even a bucket of water available so people can wash their hands in this so-called government office.”

The woman also questioned if the ONI employees were taking health precautions.

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