Despite an outflow of foreign assistance after their country’s devastating 2010 earthquake, Haitians continue to face “alarming threats” from deplorable living conditions, a broken justice system and the United Nations’ refusal to take responsibility for its role in the outbreak of a deadly cholera epidemic, according to a report issued Monday by Haitian and international human rights advocates.
“For the roughly 370,000 victims of the earthquake still living in displaced person camps, the situation deteriorates by the day,” the International Federation of Human Rights said upon releasing Haiti: Human Security in Danger. “The exceptional inflow of international humanitarian aid averted an even worse disaster and served to protect the lives of thousands of people who survived the catastrophe, but lost everything they possessed…it has sadly not resulted in strengthening the capacity of the Haitian people themselves to take charge of rebuilding the country.”
The blame, said the report, can be shared by Haitian authorities, who have failed to respond to the needs of the masses through sound policies and reforms, and the international community “who have imposed their ‘solutions’ in a confused and incoherent manner.”
The report comes on the heels of a new documentary, Fatal Assistance, by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck. The film provides a critical look at the role of the international community in Haiti’s post-quake reconstruction by taking viewers into the inner workings and discussions of the now defunct Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission. Peck, who edited more than 500 hours of film into 100 minutes, recently hosted a private screening of the film in Port-au-Prince.
The film’s message, Peck said, “Stop aid, now. And let’s go back to the drawing table. Or let’s just follow the rules that the (Western) actors themselves have established and never follow and blame Haitians...for their own failures.”
The findings and recommendation in Haiti: Human Security in Danger were based on a visit earlier this year that included visits to five camps, two relocation sites and a prison. The federation and Haiti’s National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) are calling on decision-makers in Haiti to press for policies aimed at improving and protecting Haitians’ lives.
Among their myriad ecommendations: a national housing program; a moratorium on forced camp evictions; reducing prison overcrowding; and improving management of the cholera epidemic, which has killed more than 7,000 and sickened more than a half-million.
In particular, advocates say, the U.N. Stabilization Mission, which is known by the French acronym MINUSTAH in Haiti, “should formally acknowledge its responsibility for negligence in the cholera epidemic scandal.”