PORT-AU-PRINCE — The international aid group Oxfam urged the Haitian government on Monday to halt evictions from encampments that still are home to more than 357,000 people nearly three years after a devastating earthquake.
The bulk of the removals, according to the new report, is led by landowners eager to reclaim their property. Some landowners have resorted to threats, intimidation, stone-throwing, destroying tents, setting fires and other violent acts. In some cases, city officials are behind the evictions, the report said.
An adviser to Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe called the report distorted and said that the government has safely relocated people through a rental-subsidy program called “16/6.”
“The Government is not engaged in a policy of eviction, but it has, through the 16/6 project, taken measures to safely and permanently relocate the people living in the camps to safe and permanent shelters,” adviser Salim Succar wrote in an email. “The success of the program is well known and so far a number of camps have been safely closed.”
In a separate statement released Monday, the government announced that more than 1,000 homes for poor families will open this month in a community north of the capital.
The Oxfam report, “Salt in the Wound,” comes as Haiti prepares to mark the third anniversary of the January 2010 earthquake. The capital Port-au-Prince and other cities in the south were once filled with the gloomy displaced persons camps that at one point housed 1.3 million people.
But that number has since dropped as people move out because of subsidies or because they could no longer bear to live in the squalid camps or, as the Oxfam report notes, they were forced out.
The study says that, until August, around 61,000 people had been evicted from 152 camps. Another 78,000 people housed in 121 camps faced eviction. The survey interviewed 3,600 camp residents in Port-au-Prince.
All but a few of the 121 camps currently under threat of forced evictions are on private property, the report said.
*Pictured above is Laurent Lamothe.