U.N. agency concerned as Haiti closes some camps

United Nations human rights officials today urged Haitian authorities to ensure that the closure of camps for people displaced by last year’s catastrophic earthquake is done in a planned way as part of a broader plan to improve access to adequate housing.

The statement from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights follows last weekend’s closure of a camp inside the Sylvio Cator Stadium in Port-au-Prince, where more than 400 families had been living. Each of the evicted families was given the equivalent of about $250.

The relocation proposed by the mayor does not respect the right to adequate housing, the commissioner said in a press release, noting that the lack of basic services and the poor-quality shelters means that the former camp residents will be much more vulnerable than they were in the camp.

“A successful reconstruction and a secure and long-term stabilization of the country will depend in part on the realization of the right to adequate housing,” the U.N. agency stressed.

It noted that the Haitian government had been repeatedly urged to take a holistic approach regarding the closure of camps – many of them makeshift collections of tents – to allow for a reasonable time as well as alternative accommodation to be found.

As many as 2.3 million people, or about a quarter of the national population, were displaced from their homes as a result of last year’s quake, while more than 200,000 others were killed.

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