Haiti’s Earthquake Victims Step Up Demands For Housing


Roger Annis and Kim Ives

The plight of some 400,000 Haitians still living under tarps and tents
since the January 12, 2010 earthquake has surged into the streets and
headlines in recent weeks, highlighting one of Haiti’s most explosive and
intractable issues. A new grassroots campaign, an international petition,
several new reports, and street demonstrations are underscoring the
problem’s urgency.

On May 31, dozens of protesters mobilized by the Forces for Reflection and
Action on Housing Matters (FRAKKA) demonstrated in front of the office of
Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to denounce the broken promises of Haitian
government officials to provide housing for earthquake victims. “We in
FRAKKA have noted the growing speed of forced expulsions against the
displaced people camps,” said Rénel Sanon, FRAKKA’s Secretary General.

For almost one year now, the government of President Michel Martelly has
trumpeted a program entitled ‘16/6’ under which about 30,000 residents of
six large camps would be resettled to their original but repaired 16
neighborhoods, all of which were badly damaged by the quake. The program
has been heavily supported by foreign governments, including Canada. To
encourage people to leave camps, residents were told they will receive a
one-year rental subsidy of $500 per family.

But Alexandre Louissaint, the leader of the camp in the capital’s
Christ-Roi neighborhood, complained that his camp, like many others, is not
covered by the ‘16/6’ program and has been completely neglected. “We have
never received any visit, either from the government or from the NGOs,”
Louissaint said. “Martelly’s 16/6 program is a complete fraud.”

Rénel Sanon said that camp residents were being terrorized. “Bandits have
set fire to many camps including the Toussaint Louverture camp, the Place
Mosaulée camp, the Mormonts camp, where tents were burned, and the Eddy
François camp at Mon Repos, Carrefour,” he told Haïti Liberté. “We have
also organized this demonstration to denounce the conduct of Pastor Joel
Jeune at the Grace Village camp in Lamentin 52 and 54. Accompanied by armed
thugs, he continues to persecute the displaced.”

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