Evictions Report: Government adds insult to injuries of displaced

The Haitian Government is violating the rights of Haitians more seriously than the non-governmental organizations (NGOS). During recent weeks, destroying the camps of the internally displaced people has become something normal. And now the Mayor Jean-Yves Jason of Port-au-Prince has evicted 514 families that were living in the Sylivo Cator soccer stadium, without respect to their rights or their dignity.
A protest by civil society organizations against the presence of MINUSTAH on July 28, 2011.A protest by civil society organizations against the presence of MINUSTAH on July 28, 2011.
This is yet another time that the Haitian Government has violated the International Convention on Human Rights, which recognizes the rights that all victims of natural catastrophes have to live with dignity.Mayor Jason of Port-au-Prince declared: “The government doesn’t owe people anything, the 10,000 gourdes ($500 U.S.) the government gives is charity for them to restart their lives.” That is the kind of declaration we might expect to hear from the mouths of NGOs, not from those who govern - those to whom we have given a mandate to govern us.

Of the 514 families that were living in the stadium, there are 124 (about 600 people) that the Mayor agreed to relocate in another space. However, the other nearly 400 families were left in the streets with only 10,000 gourdes and no other assistance to find an alternative.

The space the mayor of Port-au-Prince designated to put these homeless earthquake victims is worse than where the had been living; it doesn’t meet international standards for displaced people nor does it meet principles of human dignity. Eighteen months after the January 12th earthquake, the Haitian government is forcing people out from under their tents to go live under other tents, creating new camps without safe drinking water during a cholera epidemic. It appears the mayor has installed ten portable toilets near the road by the new camp. The majority of the homeless victims living there are children and women.

In the past months, the lives of Haiti’s internally displaced have become increasingly difficult and it is more complicated than just the bad conditions in the camps. Authorities have declared that the victims actually have houses and big businesses, or they are criminals. The NGOs also seek to invalidate these homeless families by saying they stay in camps because they weren’t accustomed to getting getting the good services such as free water, food and health care that they receive in the camps now. In reality, most camps lack all of these basic services which are considered fundamental human rights.

The mayor of Delmas and the police destroyed the camp at the Airport Intersection (Kafou Ayopo) at six o’clock in the morning, they said the camp was a home for criminals. Yet they arrested no one and didn’t find even one knife. If we consider what the government calls “social housing” (low income housing) and the declaration made by Mr. Martelly, then we can expect all 700,000 people living in the camps today to be evicted before long because there is no housing
for the poor.

There are victims who explain that they prefer the humiliation of living in the Dominican Republic where racism against Haitian is frequently overt, because in comparison the Haitian authorities are now treating them worse than foreigners do. This is especially true for the poor, who have nearly ceased to exist in the national dialogue beyond efforts to render them less visible since the election of Martelly.

Etant Dupain is the director of Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye, an alternative Haitian media project. Supported by Let Haiti Live, a project of TransAfrica Forum, BKNG prints and distributes a free monthly newspaper to residents of camps and popular neighborhoods. Learn more at http://brikourinouvelgaye.com