Position of the Collective in Defense of Housing Right in Haiti, about the several fires in IDP’s camps and authorities indifference
Right to life and security of Internal Displaced People (IDP’s) camps have been threatened and authorities cannot stay arms crossed.
The Collective in defense of Housing Right in Haiti point out IDP’s life and property are in extreme danger because of suspicious fires reported in several camps in capital city. The Collective says that authorities in charge of them don’t help victims. Worse, they remain in silence about these disasters that lunge in pain and desperation all families that were affected by the earthquake in 2010.
As an example, the Collective remember the most serious cases registered between first days of February and March, 18th 2012 :
1.March 18th Sunday : a group of bandits arrive and set on fire camp Kozbami, in Cité Soleil. Result : 6 tents burnt. 2. March 16th, by night : a fire starts in Mausoleum camp, close to the National Palace. Result : 58 tents burnt. 3. March, 12th, Monday : a hundred tents burnt in the backyard of the Toussaint Louverture school, in downtown. 5 people die because of the fire (three of these were members from the same family, a mother and her two minor children, 12 and 10 years old). 4. February18th, Saturday : fire burn two tents in Mayard camp, Christ Roi neighborhood. 6. February 8th, Wednesday : fire destroy fifty tents in Republic of Argentina School, in Carrefour Pean, another district of Port au Prince. Fifty other tents are destroyed to stop fire. A 3 years old child dies charred.
The Collective in defense of Housing Right in Haiti is really concerned about indifference and silence of the authorities related to the issue and point out the following stands :
There is no diligence from them to help victims in danger.
They don’t express any sympathy and willingness to inform the public about this serious issue.
They haven’t announced any investigation about those fires that could be seen as a criminal approach to force displaced families to leave the lands by all means.
The prosecutor, who likes to remind often his readiness to establish order and discipline, has not taken any action yet. He has barely given instructions to the peace magistrate, so he can start the research and, eventually, find the criminals responsible for those fires according to the Criminal Procedure Code.
There’s no compliance to supply a police brigade that can enforce security around camps, while National Police of Haiti’s slogan is : “to protect and to serve”.
There are no announcements from the minister of Justice, to assist IDP’s for them to get their lost documents again (birth certificate, IDs).
There is no coaching from Civil Protection Department, to help the victims to avoid another episode, whether criminal, whether as an accident, if it ever happens.
What does this silence from authorities mean, when it’s about fires reported in camps ? Threatens made by people to implement their plans to set on fire displaced shelters are not new. Let’s remember, December 21st 2011, when a group of vandals arrived in Jérémie Square. They broke tents and beat people to make them leave the place.
Until now, most of victims from this violent eviction are helpless and homeless. The major of Port au Prince declared that he is not involved in these expulsion operatives. However, during an official ceremony, in January 12th 2012, President mentioned that Jerèmy Square was a big success, a « goal « for him.
Collective in Defense of Housing Right in Haiti emphasize, once again, the obligation described on the 1987 Constitution, for authorities to guarantee right to life and right to security of the citizens, no matter who they are.
Moreover, as a state member of the UN, Haiti is linked to its principal concepts about displaced people and victims of disasters, whose right to life and security have to be guaranteed. Haitian authorities have a responsibility to take.
In that sense, Collective in Defense of Housing Right demands : – Port au Prince prosecutor : to run a plan, with the Attorney’s office, to stop all these criminal acts, as fire hazards in earthquake’s victims camps. – To the mayor of Port au Prince : to help in the rescue and security of victims whose situation is getting worse, day after day. – To the Red Cross, The Female Rights and Issues Minister : to assist pregnant women and abandoned children without protection. – To the Internal Displaced People : for them to organize and avoid criminal attacks in camps. – To citizens, groups, institutions and organizations, at national and international level : to support the situation of displaced families after January 12th, who are still in pain.
People under canvas and tents are citizens, as well, just like other Haitians. Their right to security and to life has been harassed and authorities cannot stand with crossed arms.
Port-au-Prince, March, 23th 2012.
On behalf of the Collective
The Collective in Defense of Housing Right Haiti has the following organizations : FRAKKA, GARR, PAPDA, DOP, Batay Ouvriye, POHDH y Servicio Jesuita-HAITÍ.