On January 12, 2010 a devastating earthquake killed approximately 300,000 people and left nearly two million homeless in Haiti. One year later, more than one million people are still living in appalling conditions in “temporary” tent cities in the capital city and surrounding areas. A report released this week by Oxfam reveals that less than 45 percent of the $2.1 billion pledged for Haiti’s reconstruction has been disbursed. In addition, “less than 5 percent of the rubble has been cleared, only 15 percent of the temporary housing that is needed has been built and relatively few permanent water and sanitation facilities have been constructed.” Adding to Haiti’s misery is the recent cholera epidemic that so far has killed nearly 3,500 people. The all-too-common tent cities are particularly dangerous for women, where gender-based violence and sexual assaults are on the rise. This short video by Amnesty International highlights the dangers women face and emphasizes that “feeling safe from sexual violence is a basic human right.”
Meanwhile, this week in the United States, six civil and human rights groups filed an emergency petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to halt the roundups, detention, and imminent deportations of hundreds of Haitian nationals by the U.S. government. Deportations from the U.S. to Haiti have been stayed on humanitarian grounds since last year, however on December 9, 2010 the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unexpectedly announced that it would resume deportations this month. A year after one of the most devastating humanitarian crises in history, Haitians continue to struggle to have their basic human rights met.