More than 86 percent of people living in the camps in the Delmas area of Port-au-Prince say that they are unable to leave these tent cities because they cannot afford to pay rent, according to a survey commissioned by international humanitarian organization Oxfam*. The survey of 3,600 camp residents also revealed that the top two priorities for internally displaced people are the need for financial support to leave the camps (85 percent) and the need to find a stable job (50 percent).
Close to three years after the earthquake, around 358,000 people live in 496 camps scattered around the capital. Three quarters of these camps are on private property, which includes schools and churches. An estimated 78,000 living in the camps located on private land are currently under threat of eviction by landowners, gangs or local authorities. While some people living in public and state-owned land were part of return-relocation programs, alternatives solutions for people living on private land are few and security remains a serious concern for all 358,000 people living in temporary camps.
“The Haitian government has shown important leadership on the return and relocation of internally displaced people. However, it needs to address the issue of people under threat of forced evictions. Thousands of people are in very precarious situation and at risk of finding themselves on the street with nowhere to go. The government should ensure the security and protection of displaced people against violence, intimidation and unlawful threats to evict families,” says Andrew Pugh, Oxfam´s Country Director in Haiti.
In a briefing note, Salt in the Wound, published today, Oxfam welcomes the Haitian government’s efforts to help families leave camps in order to move to back to their neighborhoods. However, it also calls on the Haitian government and landowners to halt forced evictions and work toward a practical solution that balances the needs of camp residents and landowners. On the anniversary of the human rights declaration, Oxfam denounces the violation of rights of the more than 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from 152 temporary sites since July 2010.
Oxfam has worked since July 2010 in collaboration with the Platform of Haitian Organizations of Human Rights (POHDH) to mediate potential conflicts, ensure that residents are not being evicted with nowhere to go, and training people in camps to know their rights. The organization has done mediation and negotiated with dozens of landowners. After three years, many landowners also have a right for their properties to be returned to them, according to Oxfam.
Women are more affected by forced evictions, the survey found, especially those who are heads of household (36 percent of all households surveyed).
In the briefing note, Oxfam calls on the international community to provide more support to the Haitian government to help the victims of the 2010 earthquake leave the camps. All stakeholders involved in the future of Haiti, including donors and the United Nations, must give a higher priority to this issue on their humanitarian agenda.
*Oxfam-Quebec commissioned a survey in 16 camps in the commune of Delmas. The methods to collect the information included interviews with camp committees, focus group discussions, assessment of needs and other participative methods. The survey is entitled Viv Tankou Moun, Oxfam-Quebec, December 2012. An executive summary of the survey results is available here.