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Haiti: Time to push for development to achieve durable solutions for the internally displaced and the vulnerable

PORT-AU-PRINCE (4 July 2014) – Four years after the earthquake, it is time to move from a largely humanitarian approach to a development base drive, United Nations independent expert Chaloka Beyani has said today, while calling for durable solutions for the internally displaced and the vulnerable segments of the population in Haiti.

“It is high time to focus on a development approach for the achievement of durable solutions for the displaced,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the end of his first mission Haiti. “Durable solutions are reached only when the needs related to displacement no longer exist, which is medium to long term complex development led process for all IDPs and not just those living in camps or sites.”

“The closure of IDP camps by itself does not mean that durable solutions for them have been found.” Mr. Beyani stressed. “Although the number of those displaced has decreased from 1.5 million after the earthquake to the rough official number of 100,000 today, much more needs to be done.”

In order to achieve that, the expert recommended carrying out a needs assessment to know the durable solutions requirements of different categories of all IDPs, verify the location of those who live outside of camps, and a survey of their intent to know which durable solutions would work for them on the basis of consultation and participation.

“The achievement of durable solutions requires development opportunities in the country as a whole, rule of law and a comprehensive housing policy that also targets IDPs,” the Special Rapporteur highlighted.

“The rental subsidy policy which aims to help IDPs leave camps and find a place to rent in the neighbourhoods is a transitional measure to decongest the camps,” he said. “In order to be sustainable, this policy must be linked to livelihoods and income-generating activities and benefit the entire community where IDPs are settled, including through enhanced access to basic services.”

Mr. Beyani welcomed the creation of sectorial platforms and inter-ministerial committees to coordinate development activities, but cautioned that these measures should also be taken to ensure that sectorial policies in all key areas such as water, sanitation, health, education, employment and agriculture extend to IDPs as well.

“Humanitarian support should continue in the remaining camps or sites to address the dire living conditions of some of the IDPs and to respond to their basic needs, particularly water and sanitation, which are critical to public health,” he said. “I call for special protection for IDPs to continue into the development phase, especially for women and children.”

The Government of Haiti, the Special Rapporteur emphasized, has the primary responsibility to work towards development based approaches to durable solutions for IDPs and the vulnerable population at large, “which will enable the integration of IDPs in urban and rural neighbourhoods where they can resume their normal lives as citizens of Haiti, without discrimination on account of their situation.”

Such primary responsibility includes putting relevant policies, effective coordination of structures and mechanisms for achieving solutions, for instance resolution of issues affecting access to land and property, housing, justice, including for women.

“The current election registration exercise should also include IDPs as equal citizens to ensure they can vote and participate in the public life of the country,” Mr. Beyani noted.

During his one-week visit, the Special Rapporteur met with the Counsellor of the President, the Minister of Justice, the Delegate-Minister for Human Rights and the Fight against Extreme Poverty, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Human Rights, the Director of the Civil Protection Department, the UCLBP and DINEPA.

He also met with the UN Humanitarian and Country teams and representatives of the civil society. His programme included visits to IDP camps and sites as well as the Canaan neighbourhood in Port-au-Prince.

Chaloka Beyani, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/IDPersonsIndex.aspx

Check the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/Standards.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Haiti: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/HTIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Marie-Eve Friedrich (+41 22 917 9713 / mfriedrich@ohchr.org) or write to idp@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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