Monday, September 17, 2012

Homeless in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

In a few months it will be three years since the Haitian earthquake which made 1.5 million people homeless. This photo of two little brothers having breakfast in a Port-au-Prince displacement camp was taken last week & shows the state of housing reconstruction despite billions of dollars in donations & reconstruction aid. An estimated 400,000 people continue to live in 575 makeshift camps without clean water, garbage disposal, with one shower for every 1,200 people & with one functioning toilet for every 77. This is not to suggest that housing has been provided for one million people no longer living in tents. Only 5,700 permanent houses have been built, mostly by aid groups such as Habitat for Humanity. The Haitian government does not have a housing reconstruction plan or program. Those colonial overlords & NGOs (including the Red Cross who raked in millions for Haitian relief) who put themselves in charge of the Haitian people invested a paltry sum of money in building about 125,000 transitional one-room houses made of plywood & not earthquake or hurricane-resistant (in an area where hurricane season is annual). That housing will of course become permanent slum dwellings. In desperation, many Haitians returned to the unstable rubble of their condemned homes to rebuild but with precious little reconstruction money to aid them. Only 15,000 homes have been repaired with reconstruction assistance. The US colonial overlords administering US aid have not built a single house. Directed by both Clintons, they instead built a polluting power plant & are setting up maquilladora sweat shops.

After his election in 2010, President Michel Martelly pledged to close all camps within six months. His pledge did not mean relocation to new homes; it meant puny cash bribes to induce people to leave or forcible eviction (often without prior notice) if necessary. So rather than building & reconstructing homes, the Haitian government along with private landowners supported by police & UN peacekeepers have been on a violent eviction rampage to clear the camps. With no homes to go to, hundreds of thousands have simply been made homeless. According to Under Tents (a housing rights coalition of Haitian political groups & 30 human rights groups working in Haiti), one in five displaced Haitians is at risk of imminent eviction.

Reyneld Sanon, a housing activist & leader of Under Tents is currently touring the US. Sanon will visit New Orleans Sept. 14-15; Houston Sept. 16-17; Washington, D.C., Sept. 18-20; New York City Sept. 21-24, & Miami Sept. 25-26. You can follow the speaking tour & their work at their website:; or on FB at:
(Photo by Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

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