No roof, no roots

Three years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, thousands of people are now facing forced eviction from their basic tents.

Virgiela was trapped under rubble for six days after the catastrophic earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January 2010. Her house in the capital, Port-au-Prince, was destroyed. Her determination to be reunited with her children and grandchildren kept her going.

Then her tent in a camp for displaced people, in Place Jérémie, was torn down during a forced eviction in December 2011, which left 134 families on the street. What little they owned was either destroyed or stolen. Virgiela and her family were once again homeless.

With nowhere else to go, Virgiela now sleeps on the veranda of her sister’s house. Her children and grandchildren live separately in the already overcrowded houses of family and friends.

Haiti’s earthquake left 200,000 people dead and 2.3 million homeless. Today, nearly 350,000 people are still living in shelters made of frayed tarpaulins or tin sheets. These makeshift camps offer very little access to essential services such as running water, toilets and rubbish disposal. Meanwhile, Haiti has received less than half of the US$6.5 billion that donors pledged to help the country recover.

At the end of September 2012, nearly 80,000 people lived under threat of eviction. So far around 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from these camps. Most were living in tents on private land with disputed ownership. Already uprooted by the earthquake and struggling to survive in often appalling conditions, these families are living in constant fear of losing everything again.

Amnesty International has documented a pattern of forced evictions of internally displaced families, carried out or condoned by the Haitian authorities. The overwhelming majority of such evictions have involved alleged private landowners reclaiming properties from displaced people through intimidation and violence. There is no genuine consultation, and displaced people are not offered adequate alternative accommodation or compensation. As such, these evictions are in clear breach of international legal and procedural standards.

Our report, “Nowhere to go”: Forced evictions in Haiti’s displacement camps, shows how Haiti’s post-quake reconstruction is failing to protect and fulfil people’s right to adequate housing.

The Haitian authorities must act urgently to make sure that other families do not suffer the same fate as Virgiela. Haiti’s displaced people need lasting solutions now to meet their housing needs, including an end to forced evictions. The international community should also fulfil their financial commitments made at the March 2010 donor conference to assist Haiti’s recovery.


Haiti: Three years on from earthquake, housing situation catastrophic

ACT NOWPrint out, sign and send the postcard on this PDF from WIRE magazine, calling on President Michel Martelly to stop all evictions until proper safeguards are in place to protect people’s human rights. And look out for our new report and video, launching in February.