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Published: Friday, May. 27, 2011
Updated: Friday, May. 27, 20110 Comments
Evictions ramp up for Haitian quake victims
Haitians living in squalid camps on public land are being evicted ahead of the upcoming hurricane season and more than a week into the new president’s term.By Jacqueline Charles - Jcharles@MiamiHerald.comhttp://add.my.yahoo.com/rss?url=http://www.bradenton.com/1059/index.rss">
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Police and security agents wielding machetes and knives stormed the squalid encampment north of downtown Port-au-Prince shortly after daybreak recently, tearing through the makeshift tents as unsuspecting campers fled for cover or yelled in protest.
“This is the work of animals,’’ resident Guerin Pierre said, standing amid donated plastic sheeting, plywood and clothing strewn across the gravel yard. “This is the worst kind of humiliation someone can experience. They chose to do this at the start of the hurricane season. This is abuse.’’
The destruction of about 200 makeshift tents in the Delmas 3 neighborhood was the latest in a string of evictions across this earthquake-ravaged capital where victims of the hemisphere’s worst natural disaster are being forced off public and private property with little or no warning. The forced evictions come just days ahead of Wednesday’s start of the Atlantic hurricane season and just two weeks into the term of President Michel Martelly.
The evictions have triggered outrage by those displaced, some of whom say they have no place to go, and from U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, and others in Congress, who called the removals “disturbing.’’
“During President Martelly’s visit to the United States, we were all encouraged by his assertion that Haiti will face a new day — a new beginning. We extended, and continue to extend, our arms to assist and support the people of Haiti and its government as it transitions upward,’’ the Congress members said in a statement. “We will not, however, idly stand by and hear such reports of evictions, without seeking an explanation or taking action.’’
Figures from the International Organization for Migration show that almost one in four camp dwellers are living under the threat of evictions. Many are questioning the timing of the removals. Many are asking if it is a sign of things to come from Martelly, who had made relocating the estimated 688,000 still living in tent camps a top priority during the presidential campaign. He promised to provide houses and address land titling issues.
“For a year and six months, they never did anything. Why now? It’s not logical, ’’ said Kenson Georges, 36, who accused Martelly of sanctioning the evictions even though they are being carried out by city of Delmas Mayor Wilson Jeudy.
On Thursday, Martelly sought to distance himself from the evictions, saying while he has prioritized the closing of six camps as part of his 100-day plan, evicting people without notice is not part of his strategy. He said he asked Jeudy about the evictions and the mayor said that bandits are using the camps for criminal activity. At a camp that Jeudy first targeted, bandits had opened fire on residents, killing four people, Martelly said.
“The people are victims every day,’’ Martelly said.
On the campaign trail, Martelly spoke often about Haiti’s tent cities, which mushroomed after the quake left an estimated 1.5 million people homeless and more than 300,000 dead. After his victory, advisors put together a camp strategy.
Friday, 27 May 2011
Evictions ramp up for Haitian quake victims - Haiti: The Earthquake Aftermath