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Haiti Still Trapped In Emergency Phase

 WASHINGTON - Some ten months after the devastating earthquake of January 12th, over one million Haitians remain displaced and live in fear of hunger, rape, intimidation and forced eviction, a rights organization said this week.

Refugees International, a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises, said this week that Haitians are still living in a state of emergency, with a humanitarian response that appears paralyzed months after the quake.

Many still call some 1,300 camps home, even as many face evictions and are being threatened by gangs and getting raped, the report, `Haiti: Still Trapped In The Emergency Phase, said.

The report found that there has been a significant increase in reports of sexual violence since the quake.

`Service providers report increasing domestic violence in the stressful living conditions in the camps,` stated the report. `The teenage pregnancy rate is extremely high in the camps, and medical agencies told RI that they are receiving large numbers of cases of failed `street abortions,` some from girls as young as ten years old.`

Refugees International also said it received reports of women and girls forced to exchange sex for food, especially since the general food distributions stopped in April and on a recent field visit, found that less than 30 percent of the camps have managers.

Researchers added that many Haitian victims of the earthquake are living in squalid, overcrowded and spontaneous camps for a prolonged period which has led to aggravated levels of violence and appalling standards of living.

`As time goes on, landowners are increasingly threatening camp residents with eviction,` the report said. `Many evictions have already occurred, and with nowhere to go, these repeatedly displaced people are absorbed into existing camps or form new ones with no humanitarian assistance.`

Yet, researchers said that despite the miserable conditions in the camps, residents expressed increasing fears of being evicted with nowhere to go.

Some 15,000 people have been evicted so far and 95,000 people remain under serious threat of eviction, the report said, adding that even when there is no threat of evictions, many landowners refuse to allow any improvements to be made to the camps on their land, such as installation of lighting or better latrines.

The organization is calling for officials to be assigned duties to manage the camps, the establishment of a full time UN Humanitarian Coordinator who can prioritize protection activities, and an increase in police patrols to better protect people from harm.

In addition, RI called for the United Nations mission in Haiti to increase police patrols with officers that are properly trained, equipped, and have Creole translators and for more resources to be dedicated to protection in the camps. 


STORY TAGS: GENERAL , BLACKS , AFRICAN AMERICAN , LATINO , HISPANIC , MINORITIES , CIVIL RIGHTS , DISCRIMINATION , RACISM , DIVERSITY , RACIAL EQUALITY , BIAS , EQUALITY

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