By: Etant Dupain
Several hundred families are facing threat of forced eviction in a camp called Grace Village in the neighborhood of Carrefour (Kafou) just to the southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) is on the property of Pastor Joel Jeune, brother of former presidential candidate Chavannes Jeune. Amnesty International has issued an urgent action alert on behalf of the residents of the Grace Village camp.
For nearly a year, hundreds of families who have lived in the camp since January 2010 have suffered intimidation and threats of eviction from the Grace Village property without an alternative place to go.
Pastor Joel Jeune, the landowner, created a committee to manage the camp. The head of the committee is Marc Antoine, a deportee known for criminal acts, and he is widely feared by the homeless families living in the camp.
Over the last few weeks, this camp management committee and the administration of the Pastor Jeune’s church have not allowed trash collection in the camp, latrine cleaning, or the delivery of water to the homeless families as a means of coercing them to leave the property.
The inhabitants of the camp are living in grave fear. On May 15, residents were locked inside the camp. People are afraid to speak to the press because of the potential violent repercussions at the hands of the camp management committee. In addition, the camp committee has a close relationship with the Haitian National Police who have arrested six people from the camp who were organizing with the other internally displaced families to resist the destruction of the camp. These six individuals are still in prison, making it even more difficult for the IDPs to coordinate a movement to protest the church administration and landowner Pastor Jeune.
The homeless families denounce Pastor Jeune who is received funds from an international religious mission to help internally displaced people. They state that he only helped a few people members of his church to move to transitional shelters in another location. On May 16, many of the residents demonstrated against the impending second displacement without any housing solutions.
The Mayor of Carrefour, Yvon Jermoe, declared that he will not intervene on behalf of the earthquake survivors at Grace Village because he stated that Pastor Jeune has the right to evict the people from his property and destroy the camp.
The church administration refused to answer questions or give their version of events, they only stated that the families in Grace Village have one week to leave the land where they have lived for the last twenty-eight months and that is the reason they have stopped allowing trash pick up and latrine cleaning, as well as halting water deliveries.
Many families are desperate and say they would like to go to the informal encampment known as Kanaran, an unofficial camp. However, Kanaran is quite distant from Grace Village and they don’t have the means to transport their things; they also have children in school in the community in Carrefour at this time.
This report is based on first hand accounts from members of Bri Kouri Nouvèl Gaye (Noise Travels, News Spreads).