Protests Growing as Earthquake Survivors Demand Right to Education and Shelter
EIGHT MONTHS AFTER QUAKE, STILL NO SCHOOLS AVAILABLE FOR MAJORITY OF DISPLACED CHILDREN
PORT-AU-PRINCE: On Monday September 13th at 11am EST (10am in Haiti) residents of more than a dozen camps for internally displaced people will demonstrate in front of the National Palace to demand the right to education. They are also calling for decent housing because they are living in fear during this hurricane season.
As children all over the world returned to school this month, the majority of Haitian earthquake survivors are still living under tarps, tents and sheets without access to basic services and have no schools or educational programs for their children to attend. Since food distributions were halted months ago, in many camps the children are beginning to have orange hair, a sign of malnutrition.
Eight months after the earthquake, non-governmental organizations have enormous amounts of money in their accounts and protests are multiplying to demand that funds be used to meet the immediate needs of earthquake victims. Tents distributed months ago have shredded and been destroyed by the searing sun by day and rains that force victims to stand without sleeping under tents, tarps and sheets nearly every night.
Despite the millions of dollars already spent since January 12th, less than 3% of the population has transitional housing. At the same time, the number of NGOs in earthquake-affected areas has increased. The brand new all-terrain vehicles and heavy security of the foreign humanitarian aid community stand in contrast to the desperate conditions of earthquake survivors. Haitians are demanding to know who the money donated is truly for, as they are suffering the same uncertain future and lack of immediate relief eight months after the quake as they were only eight days after.
As the Haitian government and international community have turned their focus onto elections planned for the end of November, victims living in tent cities are afraid that their situation is being marginalized by an electoral campaign unlikely to challenge the status quo while their biggest needs are being ignored. On Friday, protestors chanted “No Elections Without Housing!” and proclaimed they would not go to elections under tents and tarps.