Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stop Forced Evictions of Haiti's Earthquake Victims

Make your voice heard by signing this petition.

Many residents of Port-Au-Prince that lost their homes in the earthquake are being systematically displaced by the government and private landowners from the spaces where they have set up temporary shelters.

At the end of April, Ben received a call that CNE (the construction company that the government and private landowners are using to evict displaced people from a number of spaces) bulldozers were preparing to raze temporary shelters in a camp called Camp Canaan. Ben and I went to check it out and found that the camp, which is on a hillside, was being leveled by the government so that they could relocate several thousand people living in another camp at high-risk for flooding.
The woman pictured above is Violene Gedeon, 49. She has six children. In mid-April, she lost everything that she managed to salvage in the earthquake except a pair of bedsheets when the Haitian National Police arrived at Camp Canaan with heavy machinery. They told camp residents to leave because their shelters were about to be demolished. According to Gedeon, they received no advance warning, no opportunity to dismantle their temporary homes and no information as to where they should move to. She has an injury which she says she received from falling on a nail as she tried to run from the bulldozers. When they moved to a spot several hundred feet away, they were forcibly displaced a second time as the new site also needed to be leveled. There are approximately 50 families at Camp Canaan in this situation, none of which, according to Gedeon, set up shelters a third time. They are sleeping with friends and in other family members' shelters.
This points to a grave disregard for the dignity and rights of IDPs (Internally Displaced Peoples), as well as a lack of coordination amongst the various sectors of the Haitian government and international community that are handling relocation. The parties that are responsible for making decision about the relocation of IDPs include the Coordinating Support Committee (CSC - formed following a request by the Government of Haiti for enhanced coordination measures, this committee is made up of representatives of the government of Haiti, senior UN staff and donors), the Department of Civil Protection (DPC), which is part of the Ministry of the Interior, and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. MINUSTAH's human rights section and the OCHA protection cluster have the responsibility to ensure that all actions that concern IDPs conform to international human rights standards.

By signing the petition at Change.org, you can send a letter to these folks, as well as to President Rene Preval, Bill Clinton and others that have the power to protect the rights of displaced Haitians.

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