Displaced Haitians protest evictions in capital


Many Haitians who were displaced by the earthquake have been protesting efforts to remove them from camps where a lot where they have been living since January 2010.


Mario Tama

Several dozen people set up tents and even laid down in the middle of one of Port-au-Prince's busiest streets on Monday, to protest efforts to remove them from a lot where they have been living since a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010.

According to the Associated Press, 60 to 80 people began the peaceful demonstration in the Delmas section of the city after police officers apparently showed up to evict them from the lot, where several hundred people have been living.

Camp leader Jean-Rony Alexis said that last week the mayor's office in Delmas offered families $125 to leave the lot. Alexis said the money isn't enough to find new housing.

"The mayor's office needs to sit down with us and offer us more money or a place to go," Alexis said.

The protested lasted several hours, and motorists were forced to take alternate routes.

In May, an International Organization for Migration (IOM) report found that 166,000 displaced persons in Haiti face the prospect of eviction. The report said that the rate of evictions was outpacing the capacity of the Haitian government and aid groups to find housing for those removed from camps. Threat of eviction in the Delmas section of Port-Au-Prince alone have affected 135,000. 27,000 people have been forced from their camps.

"It is apparent that many people are leaving the camps under duress, and that evictions are playing an increasingly important role in the population trends in camps," IOM Haiti's Chief of Mission Luca Dall'Oglio said at the time.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that, two weeks ago, the mayor of Port-Au-Prince paid families $250 each to leave National Stadium, in the downtown area.

In June, the IOM reported that the departure of Haitians from displacement camps had slowed. Between April and May 2011, 46,000 left the camps, bringing the total population in the camps down to 634,000.