Forced evictions cause concern as number of Haitians living in camps declines

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Tuesday April 23, 2013 – Three years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says there are 320,050 people still living in camps in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

But it said that the figure is 27, 230 less than those living in the squalid encampments in December and  represents a 79 percent decrease from the 1.5 million Haitians who sought shelters in hundreds of makeshift tent cities after the January 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people and left more than a million others homeless.

The IOM said the latest census was taken between January and March, and that about 60 percent of those who left the camps did so after enrolling in the government’s rental subsidy program that provides up to a year’s rent to camp dwellers.

The IOM said the biggest decline occurred in the cities of Delmas, Port-au-Prince and Petionville.

But while the United Nations acknowledged that the progress is significant, it remains concerned about forced evictions from the camps.

Last month, the UN said six percent of the families who had moved out of camps had done so by force.

It said its UN humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, Ross Mountain, visited several camps targeted for forced evictions, expressing grave concerns to Haitian officials.

“These families have suffered intimidation, physical violence and the destruction of their shelters, including through arson,” he said, adding that crimes were being committed against camp dwellers during the evictions.

Haiti government officials said they were committed to protecting human rights and that they did not condone forced evictions off private property.

The IOM estimates that since July 2010 more than 66,000 camp dwellers have been victims of forced evictions.(CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)