Haiti Criticized for Abandoning Nation's Homeless

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Tension is very high between the Haitian government and the hundreds of thousands of its citizens left homeless by last month's earthquake.

Critics say the government has been slow to provide alternative housing.

A Brutal Eviction

A chorus of chants and screams rang out when hundreds of people living in a makeshift camp on the grounds of the Haitian prime minister's residence were recently told they had to move.

One camp organizer said the government has not provided an adequate alternative to the estimated 2,500 people who live in the camp. The government reportedly tried to cut services in an effort to force them out.

Camp leaders also said the government has stopped cleaning portable latrines, picking up garbage, and providing food and water.

"We are willing to leave from here because this does not belong to us," camp organizer Leonaldo Martinez said. "This is the government's. Everybody knows this is an office of the government's, and we have to respect that. But also they have to give us a place for us to go."

Meanwhile, the harsh conditions of the camps threaten the health of children and other vulnerable residents.

Glorinda Felix, 76, lives in a tent with 12 other family members inside the cramped compound. She said she has little faith in the government's ability to provide adequate housing.

"The government is not going to do anything for me," she said. "They say 'go, go, go'... I don't have anywhere to go!"

Camp residents are also upset over the alleged sexual harassment of a 22-year old woman.

Her mother and a camp organizer said she was roughed up by police after refusing the advance of one policeman. U.N. peacekeepers arranged for her to be taken to a local hospital.

Meanwhile, organizers said they will continue demonstrating until the government restores services or until proper housing is provided. Their cries are urgent since the rainy season in the island nation is expected to begin as soon as April.

*Originally published February 24, 2010.

Special Page:

Haiti Earthquake & Recovery

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CBN News Special: Haiti After the Earthquake

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