More than a million Haitians remain in squalid "emergency phase"
camps, nearly nine months after January's earthquake, and security is
still a major problem, a new report says.
"The people of Haiti are still living in a state of emergency, with a
humanitarian response that appears paralyzed," the report said. "Gang
leaders or land owners are intimidating the displaced. Sexual, domestic,
and gang violence in and around the camps is rising."
It charged that the non-governmental organizations co-ordinating the
recovery efforts in the country were often dysfunctional and lacking in
"Action is urgently needed to protect the basic human rights of
people displaced by the earthquake," Refugees International said.
The UN has rejected some of the report's criticisms. Imogen Wall, a
spokesperson for the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian
Affairs, told Al Jazeera that the word paralyzed, in relation to its
operations in Haiti "is completely the wrong word".
"We have one of the largest-scale humanitarian operations in the
world running now ... and just keeping that show on the road is a huge
job," Wall said
She said security remained a real concern for t, and that efforts
were being made to improve the situation, but that "at the moment, we
are struggling to find the capacity to deal with it".
The massive earthquake, which struck Haiti on January 12 killed some 300,000 people and left millions more homeless.
Little progress has been made to find permanent shelter for those
living in the around 1,300 camps ad-hoc camps set up, Refugee
It criticized the International Organization for Migration, which is
responsible for co-ordinating and managing the camps in Haiti, and the
United Nations operations in the country for not giving priority to
actions to protect quake victims.
Al Jazeera's Sebastian Walker, who has been reporting from Haiti
since the earthquake struck, said the organization's findings were
unsurprising to anyone who has spent time there.
"News that the situation in the camps is simply appalling really
isn't anything particularly new. We've seen for many months now this
very large displaced population of more than a million Haitians living
in very basic conditions," he said.
One example, he said, was the existence of just five toilets at a camp in Port-au-Prince where around 5,000 people reside.