Three Years After the Haitian Earthquake, Housing Situation Still Catastrophic

Press Release
January 10, 2013

Three Years After the Haitian Earthquake, Housing Situation Still Catastrophic

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, strimel@aiusa.org, 212-633-4150, @strimel

To view Amnesty International’s photos of displacement camps in Haiti, click here.

For video footage of Haiti’s displacement camps, go to the following link.

Read more about Haitians living in displacement camps.

(New York) -- Three years after the Haiti earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people are still living in fragile shelters with severe lack of access to water and sanitation, and now forced evictions have been added as a constant fear, Amnesty International said today.

The human rights organization said the housing situation is nothing short of catastrophic as it urged Haitian authorities and the international community ahead of the third anniversary to make housing a priority.

The January 12, 2010 earthquake left more than 200,000 people dead and some 2.3 million homeless. It is estimated that more than 350,000 people currently live in 496 camps across the country.

According to testimonies gathered by Amnesty International in Haiti, living conditions in the makeshift camps are worsening – with severe lack of access to water, sanitation and waste disposal – all of which have contributed to the spread of infectious diseases such as cholera. Women and girls are vulnerable to sexual assault and rape.

"The camp committee was putting pressure on us to leave the camp," said Marie (not her real name), a woman who was forcibly evicted and forced to flee with her child from Place Jérémie on December 21, 2011. "They said they needed the square for a [football] championship. But we didn't have anywhere to go so we stayed there. They distributed leaflets every now and then with threats. At night they would throw stones and bottles on our tents … Then one day at 3 o’clock in the morning, they came and started knocking on the doors. Then they destroyed my shelter with razor blades and knives... They pushed me out and started tearing down everything. I did not have time to take any of my things with me; I left only with the clothes I was wearing."

Since the earthquake, tens of thousands of people have been forced from the camps. The International Organization for Migrations reported that nearly 80,000 more people living primarily in camps set up on private land are currently at risk of eviction – 21 percent of the total camp population.

"As if being exposed to insecurity, diseases and hurricanes were not enough, many people living in makeshifts camps are also living under the constant fear of being forcibly evicted," said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

Since the earthquake, tens of thousands of people have been forced from the camps. The International Organization for Migrations reported that nearly 80,000 more people living primarily in camps set up on private land are currently at risk of eviction – 21 percent of the total camp population.

Last April, the Haitian authorities made public a draft of a National Policy on Housing. The plan sets out a number of priorities for the construction of houses but does not set the conditions for those living in poverty to access adequate and affordable housing. The plan does also not commit to preventing forced evictions. The withdrawal of humanitarian actors in early 2011 and funding shortfalls have contributed to worsening living conditions in the makeshift camps. Only a fraction of funds pledged by donors has been allocated to fund housing projects.

"Back in 2010, the world couldn't move fast enough to help Haiti but three years on, we see that the hopes for its recovery have not been realized, as the rights of Haitians do not seem to have been made a priority. The country needs action from national authorities and real support from the international community," said Zúñiga.

THE CRISIS IN NUMBERS

The earthquake
200,000 people dead
2.3 million homeless
105,000 houses destroyed; 208,164 houses badly damaged

The Internally displaced
357,785 people (90,415 families) living in 496 camps (as of end October 2012)
52% are women

Forced evictions
60,978 individuals have been evicted from 152 camps since the earthquake
78,175 individuals are currently under threat of eviction – 21 % of the total number of IDPs currently living in camps

Living conditions in camps
72,038 internally-displaced people in 264 of the 541 camps did not have on-site access to water and toilets (in June 2012)
50% of camps remaining did not have on site access to water and toilets, affecting more than one internally displaced person out of six, for a total of 66,546 persons (June 2012)

Before the earthquake
67% of the urban population lived in slums which were the areas most affected by the earthquake

The most unequal country in the Americas
56% of households live with less than a dollar a day and 77% with less than 2
The 10% of richest households in Haiti earned 68% of the total revenue of all households

Sources: International Organization for Migration, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance and the United Nations Development Program and Post-Disaster Needs Assessment for Haiti.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.