Amnesty International’s new report: “15 minutes to leave” – Denial of the right to adequate housing in post-quake Haiti documents the tragic lack of progress made rebuilding the country since the 2010 earthquake five years ago and finds:
1. More than 2 million people were left homeless after the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010.
2. According to the latest data (September 2014) 123 camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) remain open in Haiti, housing 85,432 people.
3. Conditions in many IDP camps are dire. A third of all those living in camps do not have access to a latrine. On average 82 people share one toilet.
4. Forced evictions from camps are a serious and ongoing problem. More than 60,000 people were forcibly evicted from their shelters in makeshift camps since 2010. About a quarter of those remaining in camps are at risk of forced evictions. Amnesty International has documented six cases of forced evictions from IDP camps and informal settlements hosting IDPs since April 2013 alone. More than 1,000 families were affected.
5. Around 37,000 houses are known to have been repaired, rebuilt or built. However, less than 20% of the housing solutions provided as a response to the disaster could be seen as long-term, or sustainable. Instead most programmes have simply provided temporary measures, such as the construction of temporary shelters and the allocation of rental subsidies.
6. Rental subsidies are a common method used by the government and humanitarian organisations. Subsidies of US$500 are handed out to help people pay rent in private accommodation. However, a 2013 survey found that nearly half of those that had been receiving grants had to move out of their homes once the grants ended. Three quarters were forced to move into sub-standard accommodation.
7. Canaan, a large area in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, has seen its population grow exponentially since the area was declared for public use in March 2010. It is now estimated to be home to around 200,000 people. Many of the residents are people made homeless by the earthquake. In the absence of state interventions in the area, people are building their houses as best as they can and have created their own, often inadequate ways to cope with access to water, waste management and security. Many people in Canaan live under threat of being forcibly evicted.
8. Several infrastructure projects are being undertaken as part of the post-earthquake reconstruction. However, hundreds of families have been forcibly evicted from downtown Port-au-Prince in May 2014 in order to clear the area for the construction of public administration buildings.
9. There was a crisis in the housing sector even before the earthquake. Then Haiti’s national housing deficit was estimated at 700,000 units. At least another 250,000 houses were destroyed or badly damaged by the earthquake. Housing was the sector most affected by the earthquake, with a total damage of US$ 2.300 billion (approximately 40% of the overall damage of the earthquake).
10. The problems in Haiti persist despite the US$13.34 billion pledged by the international community and financial institutions in humanitarian and recovery funding during the post-earthquake response.