Home News How 360,000 Haitians ended up living in vacant lots and crowded schools

How 360,000 Haitians ended up living in vacant lots and crowded schools

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Hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti have fled rampant gang violence and fled their homes in a worsening humanitarian crisis that the United Nations has described as “Catastrophic.”

Large numbers of homeless families have taken over dozens of schools, churches and even government buildings to escape gang members who are burning down their homes and killing their neighbors. Many places have no running water, flushing toilets or garbage collection points.

The lucky guy sleeps on a friend’s couch.

“There are children in my camp who have no parents,” said Agienthe Jean, 39, who left her home in the Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, in August to come. To a makeshift camp in a clearing about six o’clock. miles away. “We need a toilet. We need a place to go.”

According to the Haitian Institute of Statistics, at least 360,000 people, more than half of whom live in the capital or surrounding areas, have fled their homes in Haiti in the past year, and the number of internally displaced people is expected to exceed 400,000 in the coming months. United Nations Office for International Migration.

Hundreds of unaccompanied children, including orphans and others separated from their parents in the chaos.

As hurricane season approaches, humanitarian groups and Haiti’s disaster relief office are racing to figure out how to deal with crowds in makeshift shelters in a gang-infested capital that has left the national government barely functioning.

About 90,000 people live in the sites, according to the United Nations and aid groups, and about the same number fled Port-au-Prince in March, many to other parts of Haiti. Increased demand for water, food and schools.

Promoted by the United Nations Raising $674 million to meet growing basic needs in Haiti only 16% The goal. The United States has provided $69.5 million of the $107 million raised so far.

Aid groups say crises around the world, including in Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan, threaten to overshadow competition for attention and resources. The response pales in comparison to the massive international effort following Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake in 2010, when countries and aid organizations provided billions of dollars in aid.

“We are all looking to the same donors,” said Abdoulaye Sawadogo, director of the U.N. office responsible for humanitarian aid in Haiti.

Haitian government agencies tasked with helping refugees have generally focused on natural disasters rather than the catastrophe caused by widespread gang violence.

“You can track cyclones. After an earthquake, you can find shelter,” said Emmanuel Pierre, director of operations for Haiti’s emergency management agency Civil Defense. “The issue now is social harm.”

In the three years since Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated, Haitian gangs have continued to expand their territory and increase their violence.

Gang leaders achieved one major goal – the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry – and now claim they want to end poverty and a corrupt system of elite rule. But they also want amnesty for their crimes and a halt to the deployment of Kenyan-led international security forces.

In the first three months of this year, approximately 2,500 people were killed or injured due to gang violence, a 53% increase from the previous three months. According to the United Nations

Things took a horrific turn in late February, when rival gangs united to attack police stations, prisons and airports in a bid to overthrow the prime minister. Entire neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince are deserted as gangs take over.

People who find safe spaces are repeatedly kicked out because they find themselves in mortal danger again and again.

In some ways, Ms. Jean was lucky that day in August when a gang took over her neighborhood of Carrefour-Foye amid gunfire. As she ran toward the rented house in search of her family, running past bodies on the ground and injured people covered in blood, she tripped over her four children. The five people brought nothing with them except the clothes on their backs.

Since that day in August, Ms. Jean has lived in a makeshift tent camp in the Croix Desprez neighborhood that she shares with dozens of others. The environment was too dangerous to work, but her children were safe with relatives in the countryside, she showered at friends’ homes and received cash and food from humanitarian groups.

“I don’t think I can ever go back,” she said. “Nowhere is safe in Port-au-Prince.”

The U.N. Office for International Migration began tracking internally displaced people in November and found that about 70 percent were living with friends or relatives. Daniele Febei, head of emergency operations at the U.N. Office for Migration in Haiti, said 60 percent of people currently live in one of 86 homeless shelters because people have no safe place to shelter.

He said more than 180,000 homeless people are children, accounting for about half of the homeless population. Nearly three dozen schools in the Port-au-Prince area were forced to close to make room for the displaced. He said the gangs force people from their homes so they can use communities as bases of operations to hide kidnapping victims.

The U.N. agency says about half of the homeless are receiving services, but Unicef, which focuses on the needs of children in developing countries, has suspended water supplies on some days because it is too dangerous to cross the streets.

Unicef ​​said that while millions of liters of water have been provided, some 30,000 people living in homeless camps have not received any, largely due to a lack of funding. Instead, they must buy sachets and buckets of water, which is often unhealthy.

“The response hasn’t been the best,” Fabe said, noting that the violence has driven away many nonprofit aid groups. “Let’s say 40 per cent of sites have a waste collection system. What does that mean? Sixty per cent don’t.”

Much of the aid provided by organizations, including hundreds of thousands of meals provided by the World Food Program, is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, which has allocated about $171 million in humanitarian aid since October. That includes $58 million in funding for the march.

“It’s not enough,” said Marcia Huang, a senior official in the agency’s Humanitarian Assistance Bureau. “obviously.”

“There is a certain percentage of people in Haiti who are not getting the help they deserve,” she added. “The scale of service and response is not where it needs to be.”

Many organizations are turning to cash payments to heads of households and people hosting displaced people, as it becomes more difficult to provide direct services, especially to displaced people.

“So many people are living in different little tents,” said Laurent Uwumuremyi, Haiti director of Mercy Corps, a U.S.-funded aid group that helped The New York Times organize the visit. Telephone interviews with internal refugees. “Looking at the current situation and how it has evolved since the end of February, things are not going to change anytime soon.”

Many people have dispersed across the country, returning to their original rural communities, he said.

The pressure is also being felt in southern cities, with buses full of Port-au-Prince residents arriving regularly. Pierre-Marie Boutin, representative of the civil protection agency in Les Cayes, said that in February and March, nearly 40,000 people arrived in Haiti’s southern provinces, including Les Cayes and Jacmel.

“They come here on public transport with all their belongings, like everything you find in a house – beds, mattresses, furniture,” Mr Boutin said. He added that the agency’s offices and warehouses had been ransacked by gangs.

“It’s going to be hurricane season in a month and we’re not ready yet,” he said. “If a disaster happens, we have zero capacity. We have nothing and we’re really going to be in big trouble.”

Yvon Latigue, 42, a mother of two, left Carrefour-Feuilles late last year after gangs set fire to a neighbour’s house which was also burned down.

“We didn’t have time to save anything,” he said. “We’re saving our own lives.”

The family of four first slept in a church and then with in-laws in the city of Milebalay, about 40 miles north of the capital, but the enforcement measures caused stress, so they returned to Port-au-Prince. They set up a makeshift tent where their house once stood.

Children are unable to attend local schools because gang violence has closed them.

“One of them, when she was talking to me, she said, ‘Dad, I’m scared. I’m scared because of all these shootings,” he said. “The other one, sometimes she’ll ask me, ‘Dad, when am I going back to school?'”

Tuesday, he told her.

“After a few days, she would say, ‘Dad, is it Tuesday yet?’ and I said no,” Mr. Lartigue said. “I had no other choice. I had to lie to her.”

Andre Poulter from Port-au-Prince, Haiti and David C. Adams From Miami.

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