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Amnesty: Thousands remain homeless in Haiti five years after earthquake
Amnesty: Thousands remain homeless in Haiti five years after earthquake

[JURIST] Tens of thousands of people who lost everything in the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti are still homeless as a result of government policy failures, forced evictions and failed short-term relief solutions, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported [report, PDF; press release] Thursday. According to the report, the influx of international aid after the earthquake failed to lead to long-term solutions, resulting in 123 current makeshift camps for internally displaced people housing 85,432 Haitians. Another 22,000 people are still without adequate housing. A third of those living in the camps do not have access to a toilet, and an average of 82 people share one. Many are being pushed back into poverty and insecurity after 60,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their shelters or the makeshift camps. A majority of those evicted were not offered an alternative place to resettle. AI has reported that some of the forced evictions are violent. Teargas grenades, live-rounds shot into the air by police and groups armed with machetes have all been used to break up camps. Some camps have been burned to the ground and their residents assaulted. Although the number of forced evictions decreased in 2014 when compared to previous year, the government has failed to prosecute those responsible for the acts.

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake [JURIST report] struck near Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, rendering the national legal system and government largely non-operational. The earthquake was estimated to have resulted in the death of 230,000 people, the injury of 300,000 people and the homelessness of more than one million people. The camps have led to the spread of infectious diseases and sexual assault [JURIST report]. Haiti’s National Policy on Housing, which was enacted in April 2012 with the goal of prioritizing construction of new housing has been criticized. Critics argue that the policy does not adequately address conditions for those already living in poverty, and provides no answer for those who cannot access adequate and affordable housing. In January 2010 US President Barack Obama signed a bill [JURIST report] that allowed Americans to claim contributions made to Haitian earthquake relief efforts as a deduction on their 2009 federal income tax returns. Also in January the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced [JURIST report] that the US would allow Haitian orphans into the country to receive needed care in the aftermath of the earthquake. In the same timeframe the DHS announced that Haitian nationals already present in the US on January 12 would be granted Temporary Protected Status [JURIST report] and would be allowed to continue living and working in the US for the next 18 months regardless of their immigration status.