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Haiti: "Quick fix" housing for earthquake survivors leave Haitians homeless or in limbo

Tens of thousands of survivors of Haiti’s earthquake which rocked the Caribbean country five years ago are homeless as a result of forced evictions and government policy failure Amnesty International revealed in a new report published today (8 Jan).Since 2010 – when the earthquake devastated this impoverished country – at least 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from camps for internally displaced people (IDP camps) after nearly 180 camps closed in the last five years.

Amnesty’s new report “15 minutes to leave” - Denial of the right to adequate housing in post-quake Haiti, documents worrying cases of people being forcibly evicted from temporary, make-shift camps. It also explores how the influx of development aid that came in the wake of the disaster failed to be transformed into long-term, secure housing solutions.

Currently at least 22,000 households are still without adequate housing in Haiti. Conditions in many camps for internally displaced people (IDP camps) are dire. A third of all those living in camps do not have access to a latrine. On average 82 people share one toilet. 

Amnesty International Caribbean Researcher Chiara Liguori said:

“Many people who lost everything in the 2010 earthquake have faced renewed hardship as they are thrown out of their shelters and makeshift camps. Others face homelessness and destitution in the long-term as financial support programmes from international donors begin to dry up.

“Temporary programmes, while well-intentioned, have been nothing more than a sticking plaster, providing a quick fix instead of long-term development solutions. What really needs to happen now is a roll-out of initiatives which will truly ensure the right to adequate housing to all those made homeless by the earthquake, and all those living in poverty,”

Forced evictions

More than 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their shelters in makeshift camps since 2010. The vast majority were not offered alternative resettlement locations. Since 2013 Amnesty documented six cases of forced evictions from IDP camps and informal settlements.
Aside from the IDP camps, one of the worst affected areas is the large informal settlement of Canaan, to the north of Port-au-Prince where more than 200 families were forcibly evicted in December 2013. More forced evictions occurred the following year.

Long-term housing solutions needed.

In the wake of the disaster five years ago, money and humanitarian aid poured into the country. Some went to setting up rental subsidies programmes, which support IDPs to rent accommodation for one year. However, while these programmes have significantly reduced the number of IDP camps, they cannot be regarded as a long-term and durable solution.
Less than 20 per cent of the housing solutions provided could be seen as long-term, or sustainable according to Amnesty’s latest report.
Amnesty is calling on the Haitian government to establish safeguards against forced evictions and to ensure that the housing options being developed are truly accessible and affordable to those most at risk of violation of the right to adequate housing. It also calls on donors and international agencies to ensure that any initiatives they fund or support puts people’s long-term needs and human rights firmly in the centre of all planning.

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