UPDATE May 30, 2010. Stop Forced Evictions of Haiti's Earthquake Victims
PETITION CLOSED: HEH was among many organizations that signed on to this letter, calling for acknowledgment of and adherence to the rights guaranteed to the internally-displacedt: http://www.change.org/haitijustice/petitions/view/stop_forced_evictions_of_haitis_earthquake_victims.
After the earthquake of January 12th, over 2 million survivors left the wreckage of their homes and sought refuge in camps constructed on any open land. The Haitian Government and private land owners have evicted thousands of residents from these encampments without a viable alternative for their relocation, and in some cases with no alternative at all.
The UN and Haitian Government agreed on April 22 to an immediate 3-week moratorium on forced evictions which expired, Thursday, May 13th. Within that period reports of evictions continued. Humanitarian aid, including food, water and sanitation facilities have been cut off in targeted camps (1, 2). In other locations, residents are being harassed and abused by the police. The people most affected by the earthquake, those who have lost their families, homes and livelihoods, now live in fear that they may be violently forced to leave their present settlements without viable options established for relocation (3).
These actions are prohibited under the UN’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The UN Principles, which are based upon international humanitarian law and human rights instruments, establish the framework for protecting the rights of displaced people, including the right to basic services (food, water, shelter, education, medical services, and sanitation) and to be protected from violence (4). When these rights are not upheld, UN agencies are obligated to call on relevant parties to respect them (5). Specifically, the OCHA CCCM Cluster-designated Camp Coordinator is charged with developing an “exit/transition strategy for camp closures while ensuring that responses are in line with ... standards including relevant government, human rights, and legal obligations" (6).
As signers of this petition, we are urgently concerned about the treatment of Internally Displaced Persons who are being forcibly evicted and involuntarily relocated from camps in Haiti without habitable alternatives. We call on the Government of Haiti, the United Nations, especially the relevant security and human rights authorities and OCHA, to affirm the rights of IDPs and rapidly implement a policy upholding these rights.
We call for an immediate stop to forced evictions and the development of a human rights monitoring system to ensure that further violence and violations do not take place. A transparent process to relocate camp inhabitants that is rights-based and protects earthquake victims is essential for national recovery to occur in a manner that promotes dignity and is sensitive to the needs expressed by the communities.
Specifically, we call for those responsible, accountable and empowered to put into place:
1. An expansion of coverage and time extension for the moratorium on forced removals: Evictions and/or involuntary removals from all camp settlements must be officially suspended for an additional 90 days to allow alternative options to be explored and agreed upon.
2. An independent monitoring system: The OCHA Protection Cluster, MINUSTAH Human Rights Section and all other stakeholders for human rights, including Haitian civil society, must immediately develop a collaborative system of independent monitors in locations where IDPs face removal from their communities, both voluntary and forced, to address complaints from displaced persons.
3. Genuine community consultation: Community representatives and civilsociety, especially women and the youth, must be included in all planning processes, promoting culturally-relevant solutions with respect and support for self-determination. No viable or just solutions to the complex issue of resettlement can be determined without dialogue between those most affected and those upon whom it is incumbent to protect the rights of the Internally Displaced Person.
Due to their influence and responsibility to aid the survivors of the earthquake, we call upon these individuals to take all appropriate measures to prevent another human tragedy in Haiti:
· President René Garcia Préval, Republic of Haiti
· Paul Antoine Bien-Aimé, Haitian Minister of the Interior and Collective Territories
· William J. Clinton, United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti
· Edmond Mulet, United Nations Secretary General's Special Representative to Haiti and Head of Mission, MINUSTAH, Haiti
· Michel Forst, United Nations Independent Expert on Human Rights in Haiti
· Walter Kälin, Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (UNHCR)
· Nigel Fisher, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator, Haiti
· Lizbeth Cullity, Acting Chief, MINUSTAH Human Rights Section, Haiti
· Matthew Huber, Senior Operations Officer, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Haiti
· Niels Scott, Head of Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Haiti
Co-signers (initial list – others to be added via email sign on)
Bagay Dwol Haiti Relief Fund
Boston Solidarity with Haiti
Canada Haiti Action Network
Centre d'Appui a la Production Agricole de Sud (CAPAS)
Konbit pou Ayiti - KONPAY
Fondation Ecosophique Caonabo
Haitian American Organization for Social & Economic Development (HAOSED)
Health Empowering Humanity
Honor and Respect Foundation
Human Rights Accompaniment in Haiti
Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
International Action Ties
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Pax Christi Ayiti Sant Kominite Alternitif Lape (SAKALA)
People's Health Movement - USA
Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL)
Terre des Jeunes Haiti/Ayiti
University of Missouri Faculty, Staff and Students CONCERNED About Democracy and Public Knowledge
University of Missouri Peace Studies Program
World Service of Mercy
You. Me. We.
1. "Haiti's Resurrection: Promoting Human Rights" Huffington Post. Mark Shuller, April 5, 2010.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-schuller/haitis-resurrection-promo_b_525104.html
2. Memorandum: IDP Forced Removal and Relocation Updates - International Action Ties. TransAfrica Forum. April 12, 2010. http://www.transafricaforum.org/policy-overview/where-we-work/haiti-earthq-2010/forced-idpreloc-memo-412101.
3. Log of Camp Eviction activities, April 7-19, compiled by International Action Ties of the Haiti Response Coalition
4. OCHA Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement http://www.unhcr.org/43ce1cff2.html. While the Guiding Principles are non-binding, the 2005 UN World Summit unanimously approved the guidelines for the treatment of IDPs. These rights were codified through international human rights instruments that are binding on the Haitian Government, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (guaranteeing children the right to adequate standard of living, housing, nutrition, and free education), the Convention of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (recognizing the equal right to men and women to choose where they live and to participate in politics), and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (recognizing the right to an adequate standard of living, including security and housing). “Status of Ratifications of the Principal International Human Rights Treaties; as of 14 July 2006.” Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by Haiti in 1995 and is available at http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/k2crc.htm; the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women was ratified by Haiti in 1981 and is available athttp://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/e1cedaw.htm; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was entered in 1948 and is available at http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/. See also UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2004/28 reaffirming the practice of forced eviction constitutes a grave violation of human rights, and "strongly urges Governments to undertake immediately measures, at all levels, aimed at eliminating the practice of forced evictions."
5. Terms of Reference for Camp Coordinator. One Response - Global Clusters - Camp Coordination andManagement. Created 6/9/2009, modified by Patrick Gordon. http://oneresponse.info/GlobalClusters/Camp%20Coordination%20Management/publicdocuments/Forms/AllItems.aspx
6. "Displaced Fear Expulsion from Makeshift Camps" IPS News. Ansel Herz, April 8, 2010 http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50965
UPDATE April 21, 2010. Open letter to United States Congress.
April 21, 2010
Dear Member of Congress:
Shelter and housing are the primary concerns for 1.5 million Haitians today. Although 75 percent of the displaced population has received some form of shelter material, namely plastic tarps and a limited number of tents, the materials are not sufficient to withstand the current rain and hurricane season.
These forms of shelter promote insecurity by lacking sufficient privacy. This is particularly of concern for vulnerable populations, including women, children and the elderly. Also, the overcrowding of groups of people is heightening the risk and spread of water-borne illnesses. Investment to create transitional housing and shelter that provide safe conditions and promote human dignity must be a priority.
With the rainy period upon us and the subsequent hurricane season, the immediate relocation of many spontaneous communities is crucial. Amnesty International estimates that at least 200,000 people in seven Port-au-Prince camps will be directly affected by the rainy season and their relocation must be prioritized.1 These numbers point to only a fraction of people within and outside of Port-au-Prince living in precarious locations who will require assistance to relocate.
Reports from Haiti indicate forced displacement is happening throughout Port-au-Prince in violation of international guidelines for the treatment of IDPs2 and recent international agreements regarding the treatment of quake victims in Haiti. According to USAID and UN-OCHA reports, working in collaboration with the Government of Haiti (GoH), U.N. agencies and international partners have developed a five-option framework to allow displaced persons residing in flood-prone areas to choose alternate settlements, including returning to habitable houses, returning to plots near former houses, residing with host families, remaining in spontaneous settlements with engineering improvements, or moving to GoH-planned resettlement sites. International IDP guidelines include ensuring of safe access to food and potable water, basic shelter and housing, appropriate clothing and medical services and sanitation.3
With regards to the Emergency Supplemental for Haiti we ask Congress to:
Endorse the active inclusion of Haitian civil society organizations and camp leadership in relocation, building and reconstruction efforts. Information must be collected from residents within camps, their spatial concerns must be addressed and their participation and leadership must be recognized. This should be complemented by working closely to strengthen the Government of Haiti.
Prioritize sturdy and permanent hurricane-proof housing in existing communities as well as for those being re-located. One example of this model is The Fuller Center/Lazarian World Homes building which provides more space, privacy, security and permanence than tents, tarps or other temporary shelter structures.4
Include a provision stating that any U.S. or U.S.-contracted re-location efforts fall under international human rights agreements (IDP guiding principles on relocation are currently not binding) and instruments, including UN international standards for relocation of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Create a recurrent reporting requirement for the U.S. State Department to disclose the state of human rights in Haiti based on access to basic goods, shelter and housing, education and employment and victims access to reporting and trial.
Emphasize the importance of protection and security for internally displaced persons. We know that IDPs are at a greater risk for violence and access to basic resources becomes even more challenging. Marginalized groups including women, children, elderly and disabled people make up a disproportionate number of IDPs. The leadership of women must be incorporated in reconstruction and relocation processes.
Encourage the Haitian government to incorporate the Guiding Principles on IDPs into national legislation as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child5 and the Convention Against Torture. Recent reports from field workers associated with the Haiti Response Coalition identify current violations of international standards governing the treatment of internally displaced peoples (IDPs).
Recognize the human rights of IDPs. Forced relocations directed by the Government of Haiti (GoH) that include violence and destruction of property are violations of long-recognized human rights. Swift action by the GOH to obtain land for IDP relocation efforts is needed and must include recognition of the rights of IDPs, utilization of laws of eminent domain and a guarantee that relocation efforts do not worsen the current situation.
Affirm that earthquake response efforts should, to the extent possible, protect Haiti’s poor by protecting the possessory and title rights to property that they enjoyed before the earthquake.
Take immediate steps to ensure vulnerable Haitians receive dignified and safe shelter without delay to survive the current rains, and imminent hurricanes and mudslides. This can only be achieved by drastically streamlining normal procurement and distribution procedures.
We would be happy to provide your office with any additional information that may be helpful. We look forward to working with your office on this issue.
American Jewish World Service
Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti
Foreign Policy In Focus
Health Empowering Humanity (Haiti)
Honor and Respect Foundation
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti
International Action Ties (Haiti)
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
Konbit Pou Ayiti (KONPAY) (Haiti)
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Partners in Health
Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Washington Office on Latin America
1 “Haiti: After the Earthquake” Initial Mission Findings March 2010 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR36/004/2010/en/d12e3cdc-2103-40b8-af57-1412dcf3d413/amr360042010en.pdf
2 “The Camp that Vanished” IPS News Ansel Herz March 9, 2010 http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50606
3 OCHA Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement http://www.unhcr.org/43ce1cff2.html. While the Guiding Principles are non-binding, the 2005 UN World Summit unanimously approved the guidelines for the treatment of IDPs.
4 The Fuller Center (http://www.fullercenter.org) in collaboration with Lazarian World Homes(http://www.lazarianworldhomes.com/haiti) assemble homes (both single-and multi-family) for as low as $3,000 USD.
5 The U.S.’ immediate ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is encouraged(http://www.unicef.org/crc/)
UPDATE January 20, 2010. Through your continued support, we were able to send an additional $5,000 in aid to Haiti from the Dominican Republic. Among the items purchased in Santo Domingo were rubbing alcohol, disinfectant, tape, gauze, splinting supplies, and food.
UPDATE January 16, 2010. Today, we transported an additional $800 in rescue equipment, emergency medical supplies, and food into Haiti from the Dominican Republic. We will continue to update as we receive communication from the ground.
UPDATE January 15, 2010. Today, our first $10,000 of aid was sent to Port-au-Prince. With the help of CARE Haiti, every dollar is used to purchase food, water, sanitation, emergency supplies, and life-saving health services in the disaster area. We will continue to distribute aid as additional funds become available. Thank you for your support.
On January 12, 2010, Haiti was struck by the most devastating earthquake of this century. We have drafted an initial plan to replicate our 2008 Bridgeway-HEH Haiti Hurricane Relief program, through which we partnered with accountable collaborators on the ground and capable of acting quickly and implementing precious resources where they are needed most. Among those partners are CARE Haiti, Hope for Haiti’s Children (HFHC), and Health Empowering Humanity, Inc. (HEH). While we will take a multi-pronged approach to facilitate community-level recovery in the near future, our immediate emphasis is to raise funds to activate our resources in Port au Prince, Haiti. We are working with numerous Houston area groups to pool our efforts in raising funds, goods, and any other resources we can supply to our partners on the ground. Health Empowering Humanity, Inc. (HEH), a 501c3 organization and one of the leading organizations in this coalition, is serving as the clearinghouse for all funds raised and is accepting donations online towards this effort at www.HoustonHaitiEarthquakeRelief.org and www.heh.org . 100% of all contributions during this relief period will go to help the people of Haiti during this difficult time. No overhead costs will be subtracted. Please list Houston Haiti Earthquake Relief in the memo line. Thank you for all of your help, and check back periodically for updates.
- Houston Haiti Earthquake Relief Team