By Jon Bougher
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti—After the 2010 earthquake, 1.5 million Haitians were forced to live in makeshift tents. Almost three years later, these displaced Haitians are facing a new threat – eviction by alleged landowners and government officials.
More than 360,000 people still live in tent camps, according to estimates by the Internal Organization for Migration (IOM). But Haitians who say they own the land these tent camps sit on argue that they should get their land back. And in many cases, the local government authorities are supporting the landowners’ cause.
The grassroots housing collective FRAKKA recently reported that perpetrators have set fire to tents and assaulted displaced persons at camps in Port-au-Prince.
At one camp, the report alleges, civil police officers burned 192 tents and beat residents.
IOM estimates that at least 60,000 people have been evicted already, and twenty percent of Haitians in tent camps live under threat of eviction. Over the past year, Amnesty International has released a series of “action alerts,” asking for authorities to consult with communities and find alternative housing for those evicted.
Many displaced persons living under threat of eviction, like Sophia Pierre, have nowhere else to go. Pierre moved to Village of Faith, a camp in Port au Prince, shortly after the 2010 earthquake. Officials told camp residents to leave six months ago, but Sophia has nowhere else to go. All she can do is wait.
“I would leave, but I can’t because I don’t have the possibility,” she said. “Like me, none of the people around me have options.”