Nearly 5 years after the quake, IDPs continue to be evicted from camps despite no sustainable housing solutions or meaningful construction reforms
By: Etant Dupain, Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye
Port-au-Prince, Haiti: More than 20,000 victims of the earthquake on January 12, 2010 are living under the threat of forced evictions from the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) where they live, according to the August 14 bulletin from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). As we are approaching the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, the situation for thousands of victims has never been ameliorated. Of the 172 camps that are officially recognized that house 104,000 IDPs, thirty-nine are facing the threat of immediate eviction.
The Martelly-Lamothe government has been very successful in dealing with the most visible of the IDP camps, and this has made the question of homeless earthquake victims still living in camps a less important subject in the national dialogue as well as for the international community.
Not offering a sustainable solution for IDPs wasn’t a problem in forcing them to leave camps, on the contrary, it created another problem: many places that should have been temporary have become permanent. Areas like Corail and Kanaran, which received the great majority of IDPs who were evicted as well as those who received a small stipend to leave the camps, have turned into large bidonville, or shantytowns, and no one even knows the true number of people who are living there.
The Haitian government has treated the internally displaced population in a discriminatory way, even more so considering the very serious dangers that families living in camps face in terms of the cholera and Chikungunya epidemics and the hurricane season.
Many people think the challenge of displaced people living in camps is in the past, but in reality this isn’t true at all – it isn’t an issue people are talking about because there is no money to help IDPs anymore. It is no longer a good way for NGOs to raise money, and the government has ceased creating propaganda about the positive outcomes of their efforts. Many NGOs have left Haiti along with funds they raised to help victims of the earthquake, and there are NGOs that up until now are still sitting on funds they raised to help the survivors, yet up until now they haven’t done anything with the money.
The failure of NGOs and the Haitian government to create a sustainable solution to Haiti’s housing crisis can be interpreted in many ways, one is that the disaster was a good way to raise funds and play politics, creating a market for NGOs and politicians.
Construction in Haiti continues to be a disaster, and despite the catastrophe of January 12, 2010, there have not been any major reforms put in place to prevent people from losing their lives when another major earthquake happens.
Nearly five years after the terrible events in 2010, the Haitian government has missed a huge opportunity to bring about positive and meaningful reforms for housing construction, and has also missed the chance to show the world that Haiti can treat its most vulnerable families with respect and dignity.