August 4, 2011
Three Canadians conducted a ten-day fact-finding and solidarity mission to Haiti from June 20 to 30, 2011. The delegation, organized by Haiti Solidarity BC, the Vancouver affiliate of the Canada Haiti Action Network, traveled throughout the earthquake zone, including Port-au-Prince, Leogane and Jacmel.
We visited neighbourhoods, camps of displaced people, medical centers, and human rights and social organizations there to gain an overview of the most pressing needs in Haiti. During some of our visits and interviews, we were joined by other Canadians working on aid projects.
We witnessed the dedication and hard work of the Haitian people and authorities and international agencies and volunteers, notwithstanding the immense scale of the recovery that is required and the shortages of resources. But we also witnessed incredible suffering and hardship of poor and displaced Haitians. Many Haitians and Haitian civil society organizations are seriously questioning the shortcomings or failings of the relief and reconstruction effort.
We have written a 17-page report of our visits and observations, including recommendations. We hope that our findings will convince Canadians, their government and their aid agencies to provide ongoing and substantial assistance to the Haitian people, and, additionally, to reflect on what can be improved going forward.
- Roger Annis (Vancouver BC), retired aerospace worker and coordinator of Haiti Solidarity BC and the Canada Haiti Action Network
- Sandra Gessler (Winnipeg MB), Professor of Nursing, University of Manitoba
- Rosena Joseph (Toronto ON), learning coach and member of Local 3393 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees
* The full report of the Canadian Delegation to Haiti, publishe don Aug 4, 2011, is here in pdf format: Canada-Haiti Delegation 2011 report. La Version française de ce rapportage est ici.
* The delegation will report on its visit to Haiti at public meetings across Canada in the weeks to come.
Excerpt from Canadian Fact-Finding Delegation Reports on Post-Earthquake Haiti:
… Shelter and housing crisis in post-earthquake Haiti
The lack of progress in building shelter and housing is critically examined in three recent reports –by the International Crisis Group, June 28, 2011; Haiti Grassroots Watch (June 9, 2011) ; and the Building Assessment and Rubble Removal Survey (BARR Survey; completed in March 2011 and released in late May 2011).
In the BARR Study, we read that most of Port -au-Prince’s buildings were surveyed for damage in the months following the earthquake. The following figures emerged from that survey:
* 382,256 building structures in Port -au-Prince (out of app. 425,000 buildings in the city in total) were coded for damage by the Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communication (MTPTC) with the participation of Miyamoto International. Of these:
* 20 percent are red -coded (damaged beyond repair)
* 26 percent are yellow -coded (unsafe for habitation, requiring structural repair)
* 54 percent green- coded (safe to inhabit).
The BARR Study is the first report to quantify the large number of people who have moved back into damaged homes. As of the time of its surveys, early 2011, an estimated 54,314 of greater Port -au-Prince’s 84,866 red- coded buildings, 64 percent, were re-inhabited. For yellow coded buildings, the reoccupation rate was 85 percent. Here is what Kit Miyamoto, the director of the building damage survey, stated on February 28, 2011 about the reoccupation phenomenon: “Occupied yellow and red houses are extremely dangerous since many are a collapse hazard. People occupy these houses despite communications and warnings from MTPTC engineers since they have nowhere to go but the camps.”
The BARR study also quantified the number of people still displaced by the earthquake. It estimates 258,000 (March, 2011). The number of people resident in camps is estimated by the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster (CCCM) of UN and other agencies (including the International Organization for Migration –IOM) at 630,000 residents in May, down from 680,000 in March. It is increasingly apparent that many people are in the camps not only because they lost their homes or were otherwise displaced by the earthquake. For many, camp life is deemed preferable to their previous circumstances, or it holds greater hope for the future. In other words, the camps reveal not only the impact of the earthquake but also the longstanding shelter crisis in Haiti existing prior to the earthquake.
The BARR Study’s most controversial finding is its estimate of 65,000 (median) fatalities from the earthquake, which is app. 20 to 25 percent of the ‘official’ fatality figure. Unfortunately, most of the attention on the study was focused on this finding. Regardless of the exact numbers of deceased victims , Haiti‘s 2010 earthquake was a humanitarian catastrophe of immense proportion. Perhaps the most important study on housing and shelter to date is the June 28, 2011 study by the International Crisis Group . It is a damning account of the Haitian and international reconstruction effort to date. A few quotations from it will suffice to underline the gravity of its findings:
Eighteen months after the earthquake, Haiti’s future and their own remain uncertain to most citizens, in part because they have not been sufficiently included in decisions. Forced evictions from camps have caused further disruption in the lives of the displac ed. (page 18)
7 Beyond a planned but not yet built industrial park in Cap Haïtien (actually, to the east of Cap Haïtien –ed.) , there are few signs that Haiti is building back better since donors pledged to contribute more than $5.7 billion over eighteen months and $10 billion over ten years to finance recovery. (page 18)
The housing office (Entreprise publique de promotion des logements sociaux, EPPLS) still is without a comprehensive policy and effective authority to consolidate peace and order by improving urban housing. Nor does it have ministerial status or the capacity to bring together the core resources to respond to more than one million displaced. (page 9)
Although efforts to develop a shelter and resettlement policy began in May 2010, it is still being debated because there is no government interlocutor at a technical or policy level who can sign off on an option. (page 9)
As the report states, protection of camp residents from forced dislocations by government authorities or landowners is a serious concern today. So much so that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations visited Haiti in June 2011 and issued a statement of concern on June 24, noting, in particular, forced dislocations perpetrated by the mayor of Delmas (district of Port-au-Prince) at the end of May. The Commissioner reminded the Haitian government of its responsibility to protect the human rights of displaced persons.
Despite that statement and similar ones preceding it by UN and other international and Haitian agencies, forced dislocations continue. The Haitian government is taking little or no action to prevent them. The most recent one occurred during the week of July 18 on the grounds of Sylvio Castor Stadium, carried out by the mayor of Port -au-Prince and affecting 450 families. The Office of the High Commissioner issued another statement, criticizing the mayor’s action and again reminding the national government of its duties. Other human rights agencies condemned the mayor. One statement asked the Haitian government its priorities, “Football or families?”
In many of the cases of forced dislocations, camp residents are fighting back. They obtain support from the Haitian and international human rights and social agencies. We cannot stress enough the importance of supporting the work of the effective human rights organizations (see several later sections of this report). Their resources and their knowledge play a vital role in allowing the marginalized to stand up for their rights. The aforementioned ICG report spells out the elements of the required response to the housing and shelter crisis in its section titled, ‘The Way Forward’. (End excerpt)