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Another Account: Information on Camp Evictions

April 14, 2010

We received a report of a forceful removal of IDPs from a camp in Caradeux Delmas 75, Port au Prince. Shortly after 4:15pm the Mobilization team arrived to assess the situation and interview members of the community in order to better understand what the people living in the tent camp were facing.

The encampment is comprised of five separately named, yet conjoined, camps; Camp Benediction,  Comite de Crise Terrain Toto (CCTT), Camp Canaan, Refugee Camp and Camp Toussaint Louverture with a combined population of 3200 families. We scheduled a meeting with the community for 08APR10, 7:00am. Of those interviewed, both groups and individuals, all reported a complete lack of latrines in the camp, no water sources available, very few tarps, and no food distributions. The assessment team members also did not observe an indication of any. The land was said to be owned by “Toto” although his full name is not known. The tarp and sheet houses were made of local wood materials, some USAID and World Vision tarps, as well as a good deal of plastics and fabrics. Many shelters were only covered with cloth. With the exception of the Japanese Red Cross, who runs a once weekly mobile clinic in Camp Benediction, an American priest has done some small NFI distributions, there was no reported NGO presence.

The Refugee Camp community members reported that they did not receive warning before the large CNE bulldozers and graters came to their community with Haitian National Police escorts late on Sunday evening 04APR10, shortly after 7:00pm. With consistency, numerous individuals reported that the uniformed officers first threatened the families with violence if they did not leave their homes immediately. The assessment team were informed that anyone who argued were then forced out with violence. The use of batons were reported, and firearms were discharged into the air six times. The residents then reported that their homes were destroyed, first by the officers and then by the Haitian Government CNE bulldozers.

This continued during the evenings and mornings for the next three nights. One resident, was found sitting in grief amongst her destroyed home. She stated that this morning she left the camp for the day and returned to find her home demolished. As she described her situation, the CNE bulldozers was shifting the earth increasingly close. Photo and video records were obtained of this.

Where the estimated 500 community members went is unknown. The only answer that was given was that they were, “now living on the streets.”

What development was so necessary that violating the stated rights of the IDP’s was justified? (A violation that is beyond the complete neglect of the camp by international agents responsible for the area.) The team was informed that this site was going to be the relocation area for the IDP population at the Camp San Louis Gonzague that is slated for displacement. A community member from Camp San Louis Gonzague was at Refugee Camp to inspect and confirm rumors about where he family and community would possible be relocated in order to allow the most elite school in Haiti to resume classes. Upon realizing that other Haitian families were being forcefully removed from the area, he stated, “This is not right. This can not happen.”  We have not received notification that further forced removal is occurring. Further investigation will continue tomorrow morning and the information will be passed on as soon as possible. And for tonight, community members of both camps will try to sleep while surrounded by fear and doubt. The possibility that their house and their family could be next is forever present, and this is a violation of basic human rights in itself.

08APR10

Members of Mobilization team attended the community meeting with the previously formed committee in the Camp Canaan. Presently the different camp committees are working together to create a collective body to represent all 5 camps in meetings, and discussions on how to get the basic needs met of sanitation, potable water, shelter, medical facilities, etc.

The team members first met with the committee of Camp Canaan, comprising of seven members of the 1000 family camp. They reported a number of notable details of life in their community post earthquake community.

On 10MAY10, they received a written “Autorisation Speciale” as a camp from the local authority in Delmas. This is the only camp of the four that have the special authorization that recognizes them as registered camp and secures their right to inhabit the privately owned land for two years.

As a committee representing a marginalized IDP camp, they have been denied access to World Vision, rejected at the reception, and have not been able to obtain a meeting with OXFAM, and CERES, though numerous have been requested in writing.

They have no water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities or services and have expressed this as one of their immediate needs.

The Red Cross completed a two page demographic Post Disaster Needs Assessment survey of every family in mid-March. The committee has a paper and an electric copy of the information gathered.


* They report 47 children that live in the camp without family members.

* The closest water source to the community is about 500 meters from the camp. The water must be purchased at this location.

* Though not confirmed by a physician, the community members report a man starving to death in the camp this week.

There was not reports of the police entering the camp and forcefully removing community members on the evening of 07APR10.

As the Mobilization team prepared to exit the community, Save The Children monitors entered the camp. Further information of their operations there have been requested via email.

Camp Canaan committee agreed to meet with the committees of the adjoined camps in order to decided how they could work together, increase capacity, and determine the best course of action to avoid the forced removal that they could face, the other four camps to do the same. After a delegation from this committee and the mobilizers to each other committee and much deliberation, all committees agreed that they would host their first inter-camp committee meeting that afternoon with representatives from all five camps, collectively organize, and work together to increase their capacity.

After leaving the camp, the mobilization team members received notification that a WASH meeting with most of the large international NGO’s and the Delmas Mayor office will take place at 3:00 pm at the Mayor‘s office the following day. The communities were notified, and at the morning meeting on 09APR10, they will choose a representative to attend the meeting with support of two members of the mobilization team.

The mobilization team will continue to work with the communities in order to assist in organizing, collecting data, and monitoring the continued human and IDP-specific rights violations.

09APR10

During an assessment of the situation this morning at Camp San Louis Gozague, members of the community reported that they have again been told that they need to prepare to be removed from their homes. This warning came from a president one of the multiple committees. From observation, the community members are not preparing for a move. Maintenance on their tents, tarps, and the grounds was still underway, including the digging of a drainage trench and laying of gravel in walkways. The community has small markets vendors, barbershops, restaurants, Save the Children sponsored designated child-friendly spaces, and a Concern Worldwide nutrition center for pregnant women and infants.

Contact was established with a committee president and a meeting has been scheduled with the mobilization team in Camp San Louis for 4:00 pm, 09APR10 in order to obtain further information.

At 3:00pm, at the Palace of the Mayor of Delmas, a meeting with representatives of all WASH organizations with ongoing activities within Delmas was held with the objective of identifying areas with unmet need and reducing further overlap of coverage. In attendance were employees of the French Red Cross, Oxfam, Solidarite, Caritas, American Refugee Committee, Save the Children, Doctors without Borders, and Haven. Representatives of each committee from the Caradeux camp were in attendance. It was learned that Haven had made an assessment of the CCTT camp and had plans to return the next day to finalize plans to begin work on latrines. The camp representatives and mobilizers informed the Haven employee of the adjoining camps and he agreed to meet with all of them to assess their sanitation needs the next morning.

At the meeting with the committee president in San Louis Gonzague, much of what was being said by the community was reinforced in regards to the sequence of events, such as the ceasing of all distributions with the exception of water 7 weeks ago. He stated that two week ago, the committee had requested assistance from Oxfam, Cantus, CHF, and CRS, all of whom were reported to have completed work in the community after the January 12th earthquake, but were unable to secure further support from these organizations. When asked what the intentions of the committee was, he stated that the community does not have intentions of leaving the San Louis Gonzague school grounds unless, not just equal, but superior facilities are provided for every family in their community. He said, “If we settle for anything less, how can we look at the children of the community; the mothers of the community? Who would show us respect if we don’t respect ourselves?”

The community continues to have Wednesday and Sunday meetings in order to further exchange information, discuss their situation, and look for possible solutions.

10APR10

At the Delma 75 Carradeux camps, two representatives of Haven and the mobilization team members met with the now five separate camps that make up the greater camp area. The new fifth camp is composed of the families that were forcefully removed from Camp Refugee a week earlier. The newly formed committee in this community reports 487 families now living in this section of the camp.

Representatives from each camp committee, as well as one representative from the Delmas Mayor’s office met with Haven and the mobilization team to discuss the role Haven can play in the development of the sanitation systems in the camp.

Haven assessment found an estimated 3200 families, approximately 16,000 people. Haven representatives informed the community that they will be able to install an initial 160 trench latrines, building up to a total 320 for the five camps. Also, 30 bathing stalls will be installed and maintained in each of the camps. The construction will included cash for work projects and is scheduled to begin on Monday, 12APR10.

HAVEN will contact Oxfam for water needs, the OCHA shelter cluster, and IOM for tarps.

12APR10

Members of the mobilization team attended a press conference (see press release in Kreyol attached) at the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) office, a temporary staging ground for the organization Komisyon Fanm Viktim pou Viktim (KOFAVIV) and Fanm Viktim Leve Kanpe (FAVILEK). KOFAVIV lost their office and clinic for victims of sexual assault during the earthquake. Approximately 250 members and supporters were in attendance. The press release was read, denouncing the planned April 15th redisplacement of the residents on the public land of Channmas. They explained that they will not accept being sent far away from the city, away from their jobs, their children’s schools, their neighborhoods and their communities if their basic needs of water, sanitation, schools, were not provided for. They especially will also not accept being redisplaced without a location designated and agreed upon beforehand. Ten national media outlets were there to record for both radio and television. Displaced residents of the camp in the Sylevio Cator Soccer Stadium were present and denounced the violent removal of the entire camp from the stadium by the State Police over the weekend and the complete absence of options for members of the camp community to relocate as well as the absence of the state in assuring that their basic needs were met.

Around 1:00pm mobilization team visited the Plas Petion community camp located in Channmas and talked with community members who discuss what they have heard, and what they know about the relocation of their own community, as well as the community camps located around the city and those still being identified.

The first information that was shared by the group of around 20 community members was that they have been notified of the forced relocation of community camps in the area of Tabà. The community members reported that they were informed that the community being evicted at Tabà 42 had held a peaceful demonstration, or what is referred to as a manifestation to draw attention to the violations and crimes being committed to them at these community camps.  It has been reported that the decision to relocate the camps in Tabà came from the federal government, not the mayor’s office, and that the national police were there at the camp to make sure people left.  We will be sending a mobilization and community outreach team to the newly evicted community camps in Tabà to substantiate and record, pass on more information to the communities we are working alongside, and assist with community organizational efforts. The members of the community had no information as to where the community camp in Plas Petion will be relocated to.  There was also no information given regarding if the community will be kept together in the relocation process or forcefully split off and sent in different directions.  The fear expressed by all we talked to is that they will be forcefully removed, their homes and community destroyed, and their families sent out into the streets to fend for themselves, once again displaced.  It was gathered that since the international NGO’s stopped providing food aid on March 29th the distribution of tarps and other non food items have been distributed poorly and without proper prior planning, or participation from the community targeted to receive the assistance and distributions.  Through continued talks we were told that the tarps and tents we saw were purchased by the community members due to unjust distribution of shelter materials by NGOs to their committee that did pass the materials on to the people in need but kept them for themselves and presumably sold them. The reported cost for a tent in the Plas Petion community camp is 1000 to 2000 Haitian dollars per tent, and the expense per tarp is 100 to 130 Haitian dollars.  One of the last things the mobilization team was informed of was that even thought there is no relocation site for them, the community camp will be forced to move starting this Thursday the 15th of April.  If the information is correct, the 5000 plus people living in the camp will be removed by the National Police force.  Evicted by the powers that be with no support, protection, transportation, consultation or explanation as to why by the Haitian State, or the UN and international organizations responsible for the safety of these locations and the communities living within.

On the way to the stadium, the Mobilization team spoke with the organization Strategy Action Youth (SAJ).  SAJ is comprised of 21 youth groups or movements across the nation and has been running free medical clinics at the Faculty of Ethnology in Channmas for the camp communities living in the area.  Currently they have three doctors, a psychiatrist, a pharmacist and several nurses. Through discussion with the President of the organization we were told that the Haitian government was providing the Facility of Ethnology a new building to resume studies.  The proposed new location will be in Damien near Croix des Mision, but there is no date of as of when the facility with be made available to the Faculty of Ethnology.  The president of SAJ said they will be staying at their current location to support the people living in the Channmas area.  We were told that the people have formed a new entity called the National Congress of Haitian Youth.  It is comprised of roughly 5000 youth between the ages of 18 and 35, representing all provinces of Haiti, as well as delegates from the diaspora in the United States, Dominican Republic and Europe. The objective of the National Congress is to promote participation of civil society in the reconstruction and cooperation on the part of the large NGOs, the Haitian State and international governments that are currently determining this process.  The commission hopes to bring the voice of the Haitian youth to a national level in hopes to regain some form of control in the direction and definition of true development, and in what form it will take in Haiti.

Mobilization team then visited the Sylevio Cator Soccer Stadium in Channmas to better get a feel for the community and the current state of of their relocation.  We discoverd that Friday, as eviction began, the community held a peaceful demonstration to protest their forced removal from the stadium by the national police, as well as the lack of support and assistance they are receiving from the international aid organizations and the absence of the UN in this process. Around 1300 families, equaling roughly 7335 people were kicked off of the AstroTurf playing field at the Port au Prince soccer stadium starting Friday evening and continuing into Sunday.  The mobilizers were not present for the forced evictions but were told that national and international journalists were there on scene to report on the mistreatment of the people. Community members reported that the IDPs that were not present at the time of eviction got their homes and belongings ether destroyed or stolen as police moved through the camp.  Those not present at the forced eviction were also absent for the distribution of replacement tents and tarps by the Taiwanese.  Meaning that not only did all their belongings get destroyed, but the only compensation for there misery was given to someone else who was present at the time, and therefore able to protect their own belongings from destruction.  We were told that the distribution of tents and tarps during were chaotic with very little planning.  The distributors dumped the tarps and tents out and had people grabbing at them as a means for distribution.  When asked about the community committees in the camp, the gentleman the mobilization team talked with laughed and commented that the committees only do things for themselves and that they have been bought off by others. One of the sites people evicted fled to is the area of Adoken where there is an existing community camp set up.  The mobilization team was told there has been very little word about the condition of the new site from those that let for there which makes people apprehensive to leave what they already know and have here at the stadium.  Some people choose to stay and rebuilt their homes for what potentially could be a third time in the parking lot of the Sylevio Cator Stadium.  It has been reported that the powers that be will try and resume soccer matches in the stadium as early as next month.  If they follow through with this decision it will successfully drive out the remaining citizens forced to live at the stadium due to a lack of resources to purchase materials for new dwelling, or the internal state support, and external support by the aid groups in locating adequate relocation sites, facilities and services for basic needs.

List of Organizations who provided support to the Sylevio Cator Soccer Stadium community camp.

* ACTED provided food distribution up until the designated stop date of April 31st.

* ACF provided assistance and medical aid for children as well as provided potable drinking water.

* An organization referred to only as Relief came in and dropped off a empty water bladder and never returned to fill it up.

* OXFAM Great Britain provided toilets and managed the sanitation needs.

* Save the Children provided child friendly spaces along with equipment within the camp, and are currently looking for a suitable location outside of the stadium in the parking lot to rebuild. One gentleman we spoke with has been working with other community members to get Save the Children back and operating in the now parking lot encampment.  As of today the community members have seen no follow up assessments done to record the number of children still left in the community now set up in the parking lot, or  monitoring done by the UN or it’s contributing organizations to determine the success of the relocation process, or the manner in which it was conducted.

* The Taiwanese Government had set up medical clinics for the general public until the week before the evacuation.  Currently there is no medical facilities provided at the community camp.

* It was reported that in February the Ministry of Education came by and said they would set up a school for the children but have yet to return to choose a location or discuss plans for development with the community.

13APR10

Tonight at 7:00pm the mobilization team visited the community camp located on the grounds of Saint Louis Gonzague school.  During the visit, the mobilization team witnessed three UN trucks with UN troops and UN police inside, as well as two Haitian Police trucks with officers in the back.  It was reported that the UN Nepalese peacekeeping forces were present at the camp during the daytime, and the Pakistani Peacekeepers were present at the time of our visit. It was also reported that the priest that runs the school had refused to speak to the UN.  We were told by one community committee member that the UN forces were asked to stay in the hopes they will protect the community from a forced eviction from their homes. The mobilization team did not identify the reason for the national police presence at the community camp.  It is our understanding that according to the UN mandate in Haiti, the UN Police are not allowed to act or intervene without a direct order from a Haitian Police officer, as their role is a supportive one.  This rule, unless it has changed, binds the hands of the individual peacekeepers, as well as projects a false sense of protection and security to the people living in fear of being re-displaced.  What this rule potentially means to the public is that they can be assaulted by the state authorities, and that the individual UN peacekeepers cannot step in, they can only witness the incident.  During the discussion with community members the mobilization team was present for the firing of two gunshots at the Delmas 33 entrance of the camp.  When the mobilization team asked around it was said that the shots happen almost every night, and that tonight there was two men at the gate with a gun, one in a State Police uniform, and the other in street clothing.  The reason for their visit was unclear at this time.  More time will be invested from the mobilization team in finding out about the presence of all three parties, the national police, the UN peacekeeping forces, and the two personal who fired shots at the gate.  At the time of departure from the camp there was no more signs of aggression, but there was still the presence of the national police, and the UN peacekeeping forces. Community camp residents were heard shouting at the police “Injustice!” and that the police should “Serve and Protect” the people.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2010 4:50 pm

    Thanks Regine for the detailed account… trying to get the word out in DC now about this issue of forced evictions…

  2. April 17, 2010 11:48 am

    Regine, what a wonderful (and time-consuming!) job you are doing. I will spread the word as well.

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