By Bill Quigley
Haiti experienced a major earthquake January 12, 2010. Tens of thousands died, estimates range from 65,000 to 230,000 people killed. About 2 million more people were displaced. Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with a per capita income of about $2 a day. Seventeen months later, Haiti remains deeply wounded. The numbers below give an indication of some of the challenges that remain for the Haitian people.
570,000 people in Haiti have moved back into 84,000 buildings which are heavily damaged and marked by engineers as “yellow” because they may collapse in foul weather or in the event of another tremor (USAID Draft Report 2011). “I see little children sleeping next to the heavily cracked walls every day,” said one of the experts quoted in the USAID report.
465,000 people have moved back into 73,000 buildings that are so terribly damaged they are designated for demolition and are categorized as “red” because they may fall at any moment (USAID Draft Report 2011)
250,000 to 800,000 people in and around Port au Prince Haiti are still living under flimsy tents or tarps where water and electricity are scarce, security is poor and people are exposed to diseases. UN Report – January 2011 and USAID Draft Report 2011.
166,000 people living in tents have been threatened with evictions, nearly one in four of the people living under tarps and tents (International Organization for Migration, April 2011).
1000 people were illegally evicted at gunpoint from three tent camps in the Delmas suburb of Port au Prince during one week in May 2011. They are part of a series of illegal evictions of over 50,000 homeless people in Haiti in the last several months (June 16, 2011 human rights complaint filed with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights by IJDH, CCR, BAI and Trans Africa).
320,000 cases of cholera have been reported in the epidemic in Haiti since the earthquake (Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR) Haiti Reconstruction Watch).
170,000 people with cholera have been seen at hospitals (CEPR).
5335 people have died from cholera since the epidemic started (CEPR).
172 temporary toilets serve the approximately 30,000 people living in tents in downtown Port au Prince around the National Palace. That is one toilet for every 174 people (Haiti Grassroots Watch June 9 2011 report).
Zero is the number of people who died of cholera in Haiti before the earthquake. The epidemic originated with UN troops brought into Haiti whose waste was inadequately treated and discharged by UN subcontractors into rivers used by people for washing, cooking and bathing.
US Funds for Reconstruction of Haiti
$918 million is the amount allocated by Congress for US reconstruction development in Haiti in July 2010 (May 2011 GAO Report on Haiti Reconstruction).
$184 million was actually obligated as of March 2011 (May 2011 GAO Report on Haiti Reconstruction).
Another $63 million was allocated to emergency services. Another $1 billion was allocated for relief funds to reimburse US emergency and humanitarian activities. (May 2011 GAO Report on Haiti Reconstruction).
In 1998, the United Nation Commission on Human Rights received the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement which guarantee human dignity and human rights to many groups of people including all people displaced by natural disasters. On a visit to Haiti, the UN expert on internal displacement said, “Haiti is living through a profound humanitarian crisis that affects the human rights of those displaced by the disaster.”
The people of Haiti are our sisters and brothers. The systematic violation of their human rights is a violation that must push us to greater solidarity and action. Do what you can.
Bill teaches at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. You can reach Bill at email@example.com.
Photo of supporters of Aristide by Wadner Pierre.