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.
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.