Haitian IDP Camps Removed from Official List

October 23, 2013

This week, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced that of the 1.5 million people originally displaced by the 2010 earthquake, less than 200,000 people are still living in displacement camps. This is a an 89% decrease in the number of people living in these camps since July 2010.

However, these numbers do not include the 54,045 people who live in the Canaan, Jerusalem, and Onaville camps. In July 2013, the government Haiti requested that these three displacement camps be removed from the IOM’s official tracking list, stating that they were “new neighborhoods needing urban planning with a long term view,” and did not meet the characteristics of an IDP site. It is important to note that these camps are also located in regions targeted for industrial and tourism development; developments that have been delayed because of the presence of the camps.

A peaceful protest on the 26th anniversary of the Haitian constitution calling for permanent and  affordable solutions to the IDP shelter problem in Port au Prince. 28 March 2013. Photo Credit: Jackson Doliscar

A peaceful protest on the 26th anniversary of the Haitian constitution calling for permanent and
affordable solutions to the IDP shelter problem in Port au Prince. 28 March 2013. Photo Credit:
Jackson Doliscar

The people living in these three camps, however, do not have the same security of those families that live in a planned neighborhood. Amnesty International reported this week that residents living in these areas are subject to forced evictions by “police officers accompanied by armed men.” Their homes are destroyed, they have been the victims of attacks, and several members of this displaced community have been imprisoned on unfounded charges. No longer officially considered IDPs, residents of these camps won’t have protection or oversight to prevent additional evictions and acts of violence.

In the summer of 2013, MCC published a brief titled “Permanent, Social Housing in Haiti: Recommendations for the US Government.” This brief looks at the lack of housing aid that has been effectively put to use in Haiti to help those living in IDP camps. Despite recognition from the Haitian Reconstruction Fund that there is an obligation to take care of these people, little funding has been appropriated for these specific projects and to help build permanent, safe housing for the residents of these camps.

MCC urges government officials to put an end to these forced evictions, investigate the cases of violence, and work towards a permanent housing solution for all IDPs, whether they are on the official list or not.

MCC leaders fasting for immigration reform

September 23, 2013

Join with these faith leaders in fasting for immigration reform. And call your members of Congress today!


From Kelli Yoder, Mennonite World Review:

Saulo Padilla is fasting for immigration reform. And the hunger he feels is familiar.

A few years ago while living in Goshen, Ind., his daughters were threatened with deportation. For four days they waited for border patrol officers to make a decision.

“There was a hole in our gut every day,” he said. “This is the same hole in my gut that I feel now when I’m hungry.”

Padilla coordinates the immigration education national program for Mennonite Central Committee U.S. He’s joined the Fast Action for Immigration Reform, a national effort Sept. 9-Oct. 18 organized by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, of which MCC is a member.

Read more

While Senate immigration debate begins, House moves slowly

June 10, 2013

*Action alert: Call the Senate*

As the Senate begins debating the bipartisan bill for immigration reform this week, the House of Representatives has yet to introduce a bill of its own.  The “Group of Eight” (the House counterpart to the Senate “Gang of Eight”) has not yet finished any bill.  Rumors that the group will break up seem to come on a weekly basis, only to be followed by another reassurance that every day a bill is closer to introduction.

This past Wednesday, however, Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) announced that he was leaving the group over disagreements about access to health care for newly legalized immigrants.  Read the rest of this entry »

Senate immigration plan emerges

April 17, 2013

The U.S. Senate is expected to release text of an immigration reform bill later this week.  Several details about the Senate plan have been reported in major news outlets — the Washington Post has a good summary.  The bill would allow millions of undocumented immigrants to get on a path to U.S. citizenship but would also eliminate some family visa categories and increase border security.

We will post more information here as it becomes available.



Arms trade treaty approved by UN General Assembly

April 3, 2013

wp_multilingualpeacedoveA global arms trade treaty was overwhelmingly approved in the UN General Assembly yesterday, April 2. The United States voted in favor of the treaty. Formal approval by the United States of the treaty will require the president’s signature and ratification by the U.S. Senate.

Read an earlier blog entry about the treaty.

MCC Washington Office high school essay contest winners announced

March 28, 2013

Madeline Gerig, a senior at Bethany Christian Schools in Goshen, Ind., has earned grand prize for her essay on immigration in the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. Washington Office annual essay contest.

Madeline Gerig won first prize in the MCC Washington Office high school essay for her essay "Roots in Fear" about immigration. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Miller/Bethany Christian Schools)

Madeline Gerig won first prize in the MCC Washington Office high school essay for her essay “Roots in Fear” about immigration. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Miller/Bethany Christian Schools)

In her essay entitled “Roots in fear,” Gerig wrote about the bases of conflict over immigration and how this issue is experienced in the United States today. Gerig also described the role of Mennonite Church USA in responding to immigration and the need for the federal government to prioritize the issue.

“The root cause of tension surrounding immigration is racism,” wrote Gerig, whose home congregation is Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen. “By building relationships with our neighbors and through fair policies, the nation can take the necessary steps in moving towards a more peaceful and prosperous society and government.”

In addition to the grand prize, national honorable mention prizes were awarded to Lea Graber of Freeman (S.D.) Academy and Jean Ahn and Natalie Thorne, both of Bethany Christian Schools. Graber’s essay examined the topic of gun violence, Ahn’s essay was titled “Fighting with love against human trafficking,” and Thorne focused on creating a resolution to the Colombian conflict.

The essay contest highlights the perspectives of youth on significant public policy issues and promotes the involvement of young people in faithful witness to government authorities.

The contest is open to Anabaptist youth of high school age and to all youth who attend Mennonite high schools. Entries are judged on the participants’ understanding of the issues, clarity of argument and degree of creativity in crafting thoughtful policy positions. Grand prize is $300, and honorable mention winners each receive $100.

2012-2013 High school essay contest: Honorable mention

March 28, 2013

Human trafficking is proliferating everywhere across the world. While countries such as India, Mexico and Bangladesh most commonly come to people’s minds regarding the matter; modern slavery is just as significant inside the US borders, and in all 50 states. Estimates of tens of thousands of people are trafficked as slaves in the US alone (Tupper). The types of human trafficking are forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor or debt bondage, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, child soldiers and child sex trafficking (Ritch). The most widely known, and clearly the most dominant sector of human trafficking is commercial sex (Ritch). Countless women are being kidnapped, sold, or pushed helplessly into the world of sex slavery. Thousands of young girls and women, most commonly from Thailand, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Philippines, India, Haiti, and Guatemala, are shipped to the United States to be bought and sold as sex objects (Danner-McDonald). Statistics show that the age of victims who are children range from 9 to 19, the average being 11, the age of a child who would be attending 6th grade (Vigilano)…

The truth is, most of us benefit from human slavery without even noticing it. We benefit from cheap prices of goods that are kept low from modern slavery and buy things that were made by unpaid workers in sweatshops without knowing it (Tupper). Our job is to be aware and educated about these things to prevent contributing to human trafficking invisible to the naked eye. The Internet is full of information about what companies use human slavery as a means of production and what companies don’t. While we can’t change everything, we can make realistic decisions of replacing shops that use human slavery with shops that verify fair trade.

– Excerpted from “Fighting with love against human trafficking” by Jean Ahn, Bethany Christian Schools (Goshen, Indiana), Grade 12.


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