PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, August 5, 2015 (AMG) — A group of over 40 non-governmental organisations in Haiti has today called on the government there to not let elections overshadow the plight of Haitians still living in camps and tent cities after the 2010 earthquake.
The statement released by the Haiti NGO Coordination Committee (known by its French acronym CCO-Haiti) calls on the Haitian government to ensure that residents in camps and other informal settlements are still provided with basic services and are not subjected to forced evictions later this year.
Background: More than five years after the devastating earthquake of 12 January, 2010, at least 60,000 people are still living in 45 camps in and around Port-au-Prince, according to the figures used by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Although this is a significant reduction since the height of post-earthquake displacement in 2010, when 1.5 million people were living in tent cities, the situation of those still living in the camps remains bleak.
The Haitian government has committed to a goal of closing all camps by the end of 2015, but many civil society organisations are worried that, without any permanent housing in place, the closure of the camps will result in forced evictions of camp residents with nowhere else to go. Indeed, the IOM estimated that at least 23,000 residents being threatened with evictions had not yet been targeted for relocation assistance.
Moreover, COO-Haiti noted that several programmes which provide basic services such as water and sanitation, as well as help with relocation, will come to an end between June and September this year. The group notes that, with little or no basic services, the day-to-day life of camp dwellers is “characterised by extreme vulnerability.”
A matter of human rights: Recognising the current electoral campaign, the statement says “even though elections are currently the priority of the Haitian government, it remains no less of an obligation for the state to work for the respect and promotion of the human rights of everyone within its territory.”
The NGO group is calling on the Haitian government to respect and apply laws and international obligations that protect internally displaced persons, to ensure that the regularisation of informal settlements does not translate to forced evictions.
The statement makes several appeals to the Haitian government to respect its international obligations to protect internally displaced persons, and to guarantee access to sanitation services, housing and legal aid to protect home ownership and promote security of tenure.
The statement can be read in its entirety (in French) here.
Image Credit: EU Humanitarian Aid