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Spotlight on Haiti's Homelessness: more than 1 in 9 Haitians remain precariously housed in camp

Source: Toward Freedom, June 1, 2011, Beverly Bell

The Zan-7 (Ancestors) cultural group performs a piece about human rights at the International Forum on the Crisis of Housing. Photo: Ben Depp

“Below are excerpts from the International Forum on the Crisis of Housing, held in Port-au-Prince May 19-21, 2011. During the forum, hundreds of Haitians, plus allies from around the Americas, developed strategies to force a solution to Haiti’s greatest crisis: homelessness. Almost 17 months after the earthquake, more than one in nine remain displaced in camps and in other dangerous and inhumane lodging. Neither the government nor the international community has offered any viable plan for resettlement of this population. On the contrary, government officials and private landowners are stepping up violent evictions of people in camps.” “We, groups of survivors living in internally displaced persons’ [IDP] camps plus social and grassroots organizations, assembled for three days in Port-au-Prince, state: • We heard testimonies about the living conditions in IDP camps, wherein our basic rights as individuals and communities are violated every day. We heard of the many diseases contracted by people living under tarps, of the pain of women suffering from all kinds of violence, and of children who cannot attend school or plan for their futures; • We discovered that most of us in the camps are living in fear. We live under the threat of eviction, as both the government and private landowners are maneuvering to force us out (even setting fire to some camps), even though we have nowhere else to go. According to an International Organization for Migration report published in March 2011, more than 47,000 people have already been evicted and 165,977 more face the threat of eviction. We resolve to fight against these evictions and to ask for reparations for victims of forced displacement, a human rights violation; • We were pleased to hear the testimonies and analysis of friends from foreign countries like the United States (New Orleans and Miami), Dominican Republic, and Brazil on the struggle for housing rights. We salute the determination of our friends and the movements they represent; • The Haitian government, ruling classes, and international institutions have not responded to the housing problems that millions of Haitians have long faced and that have become more serious since January 12, 2010. Sixteen months after the catastrophe, 700,000 people are living in the streets and many more families are living in horrible conditions in shantytowns. Many people had to return to damaged houses that could collapse at any time. We reject false solutions such as the distribution of tarps or building of temporary shelters; • We resolve to continue the struggle to force the state to define a policy on housing that guarantees the right of all Haitians to have a home to live in that respects their dignity. The government should start housing construction projects to respond to our needs…” Full Story: Spotlight on Haiti’s Homelessness: more than 1 in 9 Haitians remain precariously housed in camps PDF of Story: Spotlight on Haiti’s Homelessness: more than 1 in 9 Haitians remain precariously housed in camps

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Please visit our new Housing & Homelessness Alliance of Vermont website at www.hhav.org!

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