As Relocation of Champ de Mars Begins, Criticism Over Lack of Adequate Housing Plan Mounts
|Friday, 24 February 2012 16:47|
An important article this week from William Booth of the Washington Post took an in-depth look at the government and international community’s efforts to clear some of most high profile of the remaining 707 IDP camps in and around Port-au-Prince. The article focused on the Champ de Mars, home to some 17,000 people, one of the largest remaining IDP camps, and also the most visible – situated just a block from the presidential palace downtown. In a program coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), families in the camp will be given $500 rental subsidies for one year. Booth continues:
Booth also notes that the program, even if successful, will only address a small part of the problem:
Anastasia Maloney, reporting for AlertNet, explains the details of how the beneficiaries are chosen, noting that each day long lines form to get on buses provided by the IOM to take camp residents into neighborhoods looking for accommodations:
Indeed, given the fact that very few new houses have been constructed since the earthquake and only a few thousands of the hundreds of thousands of damaged homes have been repaired, it is unlikely that most of Haiti’s IDP’s will be able to find adequate shelter. Roger Annis, in a blog post on the subject, notes a troubling quote from a Haitian government representative in Le Nouvelliste:
As Gerardo Ducos of Amnesty International told Maloney:
Race to Zero
Annis points to a recent piece by Mark Snyder of International Action Ties, entitled “The Race to Zero: How Prioritizing Closure of IDP Camps Aids and Abets Illegal and Forcible Evictions of Haitians,” which as Annis writes “decries the emerging trend of a ‘race to zero survivor camps’ on the part of Haitian and international agencies anxious to claim ‘progress’ in closing camps, regardless of the humanitarian consequences for residents.”
The article by Snyder documents the complicity of the IOM, the very agency tasked with moving people out of the Champ de Mars, in the eviction of 43 families from the Barbancourt 17 site.
NGOs have also shifted services out of camps in an effort to, as CARE reports, “minimize the incentive to remain in the camps.” The reduction of the IDP population has been touted by the U.S. State Department and others as a sign of progress and success in Haiti, yet this “push” strategy has forced Haitians into even more precarious living conditions, as over a million Haitians are estimated to be living in damaged or destroyed buildings. Meanwhile, those that do remain in the camps face declining services.
A recent study by the Haitian water authority, DINEPA, revealed “47% of the water tests conducted in households are of poor quality, compared to 29% in early December,” and that “[o]nly 55 per cent of households in camps drink chlorinated water.” This probably results in part from DINEPA’s finding that “Only three per cent of households in camps are now receiving water provided by an NGO.”
Additionally, as Booth reports: