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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch IDP’s Demand a Halt to Forced Evictions and a Place to Go, While RAND Calls for Haitian Government to Get Out of Education and Health Care Provision

IDP’s Demand a Halt to Forced Evictions and a Place to Go, While RAND Calls for Haitian Government to Get Out of Education and Health Care Provision

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Monday, 16 August 2010 09:12
Over 100 protesters demonstrated in front of the presidential palace in Port-au-Prince Thursday, “demanding a halt to forced evictions and that the government immediately provide humane alternatives to the muddy, dangerous, unsanitary and simply brutal living conditions for more than 1.5 million” internally displaced Haitians. Others joined in solidarity by banging pots within the nearby tent cities.

A press release about the protest notes:
Food distributions have come to a halt and many aid agencies are intentionally withholding necessary and fundamental services such as latrines, water, food and medical aid, in order to force earthquake victims to abandon the camps that currently exist in former parks, school grounds and churchyards. However, no feasible plans exist to relocate these families.

“Haitians who lost loved ones, homes and all their belongings are now out in the merciless summer sun all day, then soaked to the bone by rains each night,” explains Melinda Miles, director of Let Haiti Live and Coordinator of the Haiti Response Coalition. “They are deprived of fundamental human rights – access to food, water, shelter – and have no other place to go.”
The protesters note that the Haitian government claims accessing land for resettling the IDP’s remains the obstacle. However:
The U.S. government and UN agencies all point to the Haitian Government’s inability to provide land for resettlement, referring to controversies around land tenure and eminent domain. However in the past, eminent domain has not been an issue when the government has needed to appropriate land for building roads or factories. The current situation is illustrative of a historical precedent of private property being more important than the rights of the poor.
The Associated Press reported on the protest in an article on a new RAND Corporation report  entitled “Building a More Resilient Haitian State”, saying:
The RAND Corp. report being released Friday ticks off a crushing litany of problems in the Caribbean nation, many predating the Jan. 12 earthquake — unqualified government workers, general lawlessness, horrific prisons, incapable police, an onerous business climate.

The report from the Santa Monica, California-based think tank gives recommendations on what the Haitian government and donor governments and groups should focus on in coming years, identifying key areas such as governance, education, health, security, justice and economic policies.

Donors, it says, should focus more on "state building" rather than rebuilding earthquake damaged structures.
Yet despite the supposed emphasis on “state building”, and a strong criticism of the Haitian government’s handling of the relief and reconstruction, the RAND report continues to push for limiting the role of the Haitian government even more in some areas, even saying "The Haitian state should focus on monitoring and regulating the delivery of education and health services, not providing those services itself."

This statement recalls the U.S.’ past blocking of IDB disbursements to Haiti to fund health, education, and potable water projects, in order to undermine the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.


 

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