International Action Ties (IAT), who have been monitoring forced evictions of the internally displaced since the earthquake, released a report last week outlining steps the US government can take to ease the plight of those displaced. The report notes three main issues that are "increasingly frequent (and highly preventable) violations of the human rights of IDPs." They include the forced expulsions without proper alternatives; a "lack of political will" both with the Haitian Government and International Community to prevent these expulsions; and the "Prioritization of profit-making and political interests over the basic needs and physical protection of IDPs."
IAT provides some revealing facts about the current situation facing IDPs. Some 60 percent of camps are on private land, nearly 70 percent of IDPs were renters before the earthquake and "only 19% of IDP’s have homes that they can repair." The vast majority of IDPs are also still living in their pre-earthquake communities. In addition, in a recent study of camps, one out of every eight registered camps no longer existed. As IAT notes, this "underscores the importance of quick action on land and settlement issues, as well as community input in planning relocations."
Writing previously on this issue, this blog has called on the US government to become more vocal in calling for the Haitian government to use eminent domain and other means to provide adequate shelter and living conditions for IDPs. IAT writes that "The United States government is in a unique position to lobby for these changes, both through the US registered international organizations within which it has influence and by making recommendations for active decision-making regarding land on the part of Haitian and United Nations authorities." The report then makes a number of specific recommendations for the US government to take to alleviate the situation.
Steps include calling for an immediate moratorium on forced evictions which would protect the human rights of those displaced and is well grounded in both Haitian and International law; encouraging NGOs to prioritize relief of vulnerable populations over the concerns of large landholders; supporting the use of eminent domain, which the Haitian government has the authority to use, to provide land for housing purposes; continuing the free provision of basic services for the IDPs; and further consulting with community organizations and those that are directly effected by the decisions being made by NGOs and the International Community.
The report also includes case studies in camps where forced evictions have taken place. To find out more about the specific recommendations made by IAT and to read more about forced evictions, please see the entire report (PDF).