Bleak Outlook on Haiti: “Still Trapped in the Emergency Phase”

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On October 6, nearly 10 months after the devastating earthquake tore through Haiti, Refugees International (RI) released the report “Haiti: Still Trapped in the Emergency Phase” detailing the continuing crisis. “Action is urgently needed to protect the basic human rights of people displaced by the earthquake,” RI reported. “Living in squalid, overcrowded and spontaneous camps for a prolonged period has led to aggravated levels of violence and appalling standards of living.”

Camps are supposed to be run by camp managers whose role is to stabilize the community, organize security efforts, and make overarching decisions about camp life. But according to this report, “Less than 30% of the camps have managers. This leaves the majority of camps without communications or coordination with the international humanitarian community. As a consequence, most international NGOs have implemented programs in an ad hoc manner, resulting in inconsistent, overlapping and unequal resources and programming, with massive gaps in coverage.”

“Most camps’ inhabitants have established residents’ committees, but they lack basic equipment, training and funds. In some camps these committees are positive and enhance security; in others they are corrupt and abusive, made up of gang members who are the cause of insecurity. UNPOL [the U.N. Police] currently has no translators, so they cannot communicate with the camp residents, and it needs more vehicles and other equipment to increase its presence.”

Many Haitians feel at a loss under these circumstances as they have witnessed no large visible progress. “The majority of Haitians believe nothing is happening,” says RI. “People’s lives are not improving, and for most, their circumstances are deteriorating. People’s frustration is increasing, leading to security incidents and more demonstrations against international NGOs.”

RI urges the UN and international community to “invest more resources to support local capacity, including: development of rural infrastructure, employment of IDPs and rural residents… support for rural market chain development, livelihoods training, micro-finance, sustainable agricultural extension to local farmers with repair of rain water systems, drip irrigation, support of bio-pest control, and support of local seed markets and distribution. Such investment would make transitions and recovery more manageable by reducing pressure and population density in Port-au-Prince, and working through local networks of civil society and government.”

Our continued active engagement in the Haiti recovery process is vital to ensure basic human rights of those struggling to make a decent life in refugee camps or to rebuild their cities.

If you would like to read the full report, click here.

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