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Policy Paper November 2010

Prioritizing Protection in Haiti:
Lessons and Recommendations
InterAction’s Protection Working Group

For more information, Executive Summary
please contact:
More than nine months after the devastating January 12 earthquake in Haiti that claimed an
Elizabeth Bellardo estimated 230,000 lives, the survivors are still feeling the impact of a disaster that has left many
Senior Manager of them susceptible to increased physical insecurity and violations of their fundamental rights.
Humanitarian Policy and These include more than one million internally displaced people, up to 250,000 newly disabled
people, women and children, and other groups with unique protection needs.
Protection focuses on the safety, dignity, and rights of people. It involves taking into account
people‟s vulnerability to the violation of those rights and taking the necessary steps to reduce
the risk and respond to violations. It also means looking within communities and identifying who
among them is even more at risk and thus in need of special consideration and attention.

At the nine-month mark post-earthquake, the member organizations of the InterAction Protection
Working Group decided to issue a comprehensive examination of the current state of protection
efforts in Haiti. Our findings are troubling: insecurity in many areas of Port-au-Prince is worsening;
crowding in camps remains a problem; the discontinuation of mass food distributions has had
adverse effects on some vulnerable populations, including women who are driven to engage in
survival sex; and the security presence both in and outside camps remains minimal, leaving
women and children especially vulnerable to gender-based violence and trafficking.

In the following pages this report presents common themes and overarching recommendations,
before focusing on groups of people especially at risk in Haiti today: women, children, people
with disabilities, the elderly, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. It discusses
the specific challenges and recommended response to gender-based violence and sexual ex-
ploitation and abuse. Finally, it treats critical systems and sectors in which a more effective pro-
tection response is vital: camp coordination and camp management; shelter; migration and
internal displacement; access to documentation; and disaster risk reduction.

While specific analysis and recommendations are presented within each section, the following
summarizes the key recommendations: To enhance protection, participation and inclusion of affected people are essential.
Women need to be involved in planning the relief and recovery effort, as well as in managing
1400 16th Street, NW
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the emergency camps. Holding meetings in French and Creole will make participation more
Washington, DC 20036 feasible and meaningful for representative organizations of Haitian civil society.

There needs to be a comprehensive plan developed to improve security for women and girls that involves MINUS-
TAH (the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti), the government and its security forces, women‟s groups, and member
agencies of the GBV sub-cluster.

Investment in community-level jobs and income generation programs is vital, with a special focus on women‟s
access. Livelihoods programs must focus on earthquake survivors and host communities outside of the capital in
addition to those in and around Port-au-Prince.

Essential child protection initiatives include reducing the number of children in institutions, with a focus on family
reunification; investing in formal and informal education efforts; and taking targeted steps to reduce child labor and

A greater response is needed to vulnerable Haitians outside the capital and those choosing to migrate to the Domi-
nican Republic. Countries hosting Haitian migrants should be urged to continue to stay deportations on humanita-
rian grounds.

The slow progress towards creating safe transitional shelter results from the inability of the Haitian government to
address questions of land and property rights. Without community consultation and the resolution of land tenure is-
sues, no large-scale progress on shelter is possible.

In leading and coordinating the international protection response, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refu-
gees should join and support the efforts of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Under
Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs should appoint a stand-alone Humanitarian Coordinator given the im-
mense challenges posed by the current level of vulnerability in Haiti.


Common Themes in Protection Page 3
Key Recommendations Page 4

a. Women Page 5
b. Children Page 6
c. People with Disabilities Page 9
d. Elderly Page 9
e. LGBT Page 9

f. Gender-Based Violence Page 10
g. Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Page 11

h. Camp Coordination & Camp Management Page 12
i. Providing Safe & Dignified Shelter Page 14
j. Haitian Migrants & IDPs Page 15
k. Access to Documentation Page 17
l. Protection & Disaster Risk Reduction Page 18


Introduction they are volunary. Reports of inadequate prevention or
More than nine months after the devastating January 12 response to gender-based violence (GBV) in the IDP
earthquake in Haiti that claimed an estimated 230,000 camps and spontaneous settlements persist. Proper care
lives, survivors are still feeling the impact of a disaster that of children separated from or unaccompanied by family
has left many of them susceptible to increased physical members continues to be of critical concern.
insecurity and violations of their fundamental rights and
dignity. These include more than one million internally dis- It is important to note that in the face of the incredible com-
placed persons (IDPs), up to 250,000 newly disabled plexity and immense destruction and loss of life caused by
people, women and children, and other groups with unique this disaster, the response of the international community
protection needs. was swift and saved lives. The initial UN Flash Appeal for
$575 million launched on January 15 was fully funded by
Protection focuses on the safety, dignity, and rights of donors just 35 days after the earthquake. UN agencies,
people. It involves taking into account people‟s vulnerability multi-lateral organizations and INGOs have played an im-
to violations of those rights and taking the necessary steps portant role in providing assistance to survivors of the
to reduce the risk and respond to violations that have al- earthquake. An estimated 3.5 million Haitians received
ready occurred. It also means looking within communities food assistance within the first five months of the disaster,
and identifying who among them is even more at risk and thousands of cubic meters of potable water were distri-
thus in need of special consideration and attention. buted, and more than half a million temporary shelters
were made available to disaster-affected Haitians.
Before the earthquake, the protection environment in Haiti
was fragile and compromised. Many children did not at- While disasters increase the risk that already vulnerable
tend school and thus were vulnerable to exploitation; populations will experience violence, abuse and exploita-
women and girls were regularly faced with the threat of tion, such violations are not inevitable. Taking steps to
sexual violence; the disabled and the elderly had limited mainstream protection or support specific protection efforts
access to dedicated and appropriate services. The chaos in relief, recovery and reconstruction can mitigate this. Any
and destruction unleashed by the earthquake heightened effort to “build back better” in Haiti will be inadequate un-
these protection risks and left many early responders with less the safety, dignity and rights of the Haitian people are
large protection issues to address, if not resolve. prioritized and included in all areas of the response.

An analysis nine months after the earthquake shows that,
while protection concerns have been better addressed in Common Themes in Protection in Haiti
some new settlements, insecurity in many areas of Port- In the following pages, InterAction member agencies have
au-Prince is worsening; crowding in camps has not been taken stock of these issues in their respective areas of
alleviated; the discontinuation of mass food distributions expertise, and outlined a number of steps that can and
has had adverse effects on some vulnerable populations, should be taken to ensure protection of the civilian popula-
including women, who are driven to engage in survival tion in Haiti. Efforts have been made to include both posi-
sex; and the security presence both in and outside of tive and negative lessons and identify forward-looking rec-
camps remains minimal. Insecurity will continue to be a ommendations in several areas. Those include protection
major destabilizing factor if left unaddressed in ongoing of IDPs living in camps and with host communities; shelter
reconstruction efforts, particularly with regard to settle- and settlements; protection for specific populations of con-
ments. Safe and dignified shelter solutions continue to cern, such as women, children, persons with disabilities,
prove elusive for the majority of the estimated 1.5 million and the elderly; and prevention and response to GBV and
people left homeless and displaced by the earthquake. sexual abuse and exploitation (SEA). The following are
Camp relocations, although necessary from sites in immi- themes common to all these areas:
nent danger of flooding and mudslides during the rainy
season, have not been conducted with sufficient informa- Meaningful participation of affected populations in
tion or alternatives provided to residents to ensure that relief and reconstruction efforts is essential to the

success of those programs and prevention of unanti- ing presidential elections in November; to facilitate access
cipated harm. to services such as school enrollment for children; and to
Individuals and communities affected by protection threats clarify land and title issues that are central to new settle-
are often best-placed to understand those threats and how ment solutions.
to address them at the local level. As stated in the Inter-
Agency Real-Time Evaluation Final Report from August It is vital that protection be mainstreamed from the
2010, “[S]urvival strategies of the affected population outset of the humanitarian response. This principle
[should be] systematically included in the response as they was not applied in Haiti.
are critical to effectively addressing suffering.” The Real- In order to accomplish this in future disasters, strong lea-
Time Evaluation noted that the failure to recognize and use dership from the protection cluster and the Humanitarian
the capacity of Haitian civil society organizations has ham- Country Team is needed. In Haiti, the protection cluster
pered the relief efforts. Meaningful participation means two has been led by the UN Office of the High Commissioner
things: all groups, including vulnerable populations, are for Human Rights (OHCHR). Partly because of their lack of
consulted and engaged as appropriate and they are en- capacity and operational expertise, and the late arrival of
gaged in all stages of the response, including assessment, protection experts, protection was not fully mainstreamed
design, implementation, and monitoring. across all areas of the humanitarian response, nor were
protection needs assessed in the initial Post-Disaster
IDP rights must be respected. Needs Assessment (PDNA). Yet without the inclusion and
IDP rights must be taken into consideration in such activi- mainstreaming of protection in the early stages of disaster
ties as the management of IDP settlements, in reconstruc- response, it becomes increasingly difficult to incorporate
tion planning, and in the provision of documents. The later on. When this occurs, problems—in child protection,
Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the newly violence against women, and others—can snowball unless
revised Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Frame- all humanitarian and development responses prioritize the
work on Durable Solutions for IDPs, and the Government safety and rights of the disaster-affected population.
of Haiti‟s Safe Shelter Strategy provide points of reference
for how these processes can be carried out in a way to
best respect the rights, safety and dignity of internally dis- Key Recommendations for Coordination on
placed people. Protection Issues
1. Leadership of the Protection Cluster in Haiti
All actors, including the Government of Haiti, should would be enhanced if the complementary skills of
be encouraged and supported in taking on their pro- OHCHR and UNHCR were both utilized, by mov-
tection responsibilities. ing to co-leadership of the protection cluster. The
The international community must support the Govern- GBV sub-cluster also needs more staff. SEA needs to
ment of Haiti to build the necessary capacity to protect its be its own sub-cluster under the protection cluster, to
own people, including a revamped police force provided be activated immediately at the outset of an emergen-
with significant training and resources to substantially in- cy with full staffing, funding, and resources. If the pro-
crease the size and quality of police presence and services tection cluster does not establish a SEA sub-cluster,
in the IDP camps, spontaneous settlements, and local the Humanitarian Coordinator must establish a fully
communities throughout Haiti. Additionally, the Govern- funded, staffed, and resourced coordination cell at the
ment of Haiti must be encouraged to accelerate the outset of an emergency to oversee the aspects of
process for the provision of documents (such as personal SEA coordination that require participation by multiple
identity and property documents) to Haitians who lost them actors.
or did not have them at the time of the earthquake. This
will be essential to enable access to voting in the upcom- 2. The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator should
establish a separate full-time Humanitarian Coor-
dinator post. Despite the scale of the humanitarian
1 Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) and Groupe URD. Inter-agency real time evalu-
ation in Haiti: 3 months after the earthquake (final report). August 31, 2010. crisis, the Humanitarian Coordinator post is combined


with Resident Coordinator and Deputy Special Repre- “public information” on protecting persons at risk and inte-
sentative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) re- grating gender considerations into the humanitarian re-
sponsibilities. This means that insufficient attention sponse. But actions have fallen unacceptably short of inter-
can be provided to the humanitarian response. national principles and standards, even taking into account
the magnitude of the disaster. Women continue to have
3. A comprehensive plan should be established to difficulty accessing basic services and gender-based vi-
improve security for women and girls, and to ap- olence and sexual exploitation are constant threats. Main-
propriately address gender-based violence. The streaming gender into the response remains an “uphill
protection cluster—in consultation with the GBV sub- struggle,” according to the inter-agency real time evaluation.
cluster, MINUSTAH, women‟s groups and the gov- Too often, Haitian women and women‟s organizations have
ernment of Haiti—must develop and implement a been excluded from or had difficulty participating in decision-
comprehensive protection strategy, including a tar- making processes and program development and imple-
geted security plan, to enhance women‟s and girls‟ mentation. All of this has had a negative impact on the quali-
safety. In addition, protection issues must be better ty and effectiveness of the initial response.
addressed across sectors, heads of UN agencies and
cluster leads. The humanitarian coordinator must Recommendations:
make it a priority to uphold accountability to minimum To reduce protection risks for women, and ensure they
GBV standards. The Interim Haiti Recovery Commis- benefit equally from rebuilding efforts, it is essential for the
sion (IHRC) must also commit to ensuring that protec- Government of Haiti and its partners to:
tion issues are addressed in the projects they review.
1. Develop a comprehensive plan to improve securi-
4. Promote the inclusion of local and national Hai- ty for women and girls and to appropriately ad-
tian authorities in camp management processes, dress gender-based violence. (More information
the protection cluster, and the Camp Coordination and specific recommendations on gender-based vi-
& Camp Management (CCCM) cluster, including olence, and sexual abuse and exploitation, can be
through consistent use of French and Creole as found in the sub-sections below.)
official working languages. Many of the cluster
meetings still are held in English and at the UN Logis- 2. Better integrate gender considerations into all
tics Base. None of the cluster meetings have Creole program planning, design and implementation.
3. Prioritize the meaningful participation of women
in every phase of recovery and reconstruction.
Particularly vulnerable populations: This includes much stronger engagement with the vital
WOMEN (GBV and SEA are addressed separately in later network of Haitian women‟s organizations and a
sections) commitment to building the capacity and skills of local
Daily life for many Haitian women before the earthquake
was extremely difficult and often dangerous. The earth- 4. Scale up sustainable livelihoods programming
quake has further devastated lives and increased the risks that addresses the needs of women, especially
to women, especially those living in camps and settlements single woman headed households. It is particularly
that are overcrowded, unsafe and underserved. Haitian important to ensure access to capital and other re-
women are central to the health and well-being of their sources for women farmers and small-scale entrepre-
communities and the economic and social development of neurs.
the country. Their engagement as equal partners in Haiti‟s
5. Understand and respond to household needs and
reconstruction is not only the right thing to do; it is the lin-
economic coping strategies, including how house-
chpin of sustainable recovery. In the immediate aftermath of
holds respond when their sources of income are dis-
the earthquake, there was a good deal of awareness and

rupted and the increase in roles and responsibilities for into the response, however, the challenge to meet the
women after a crisis. needs of the disaster-affected children and their families
remains daunting.
6. Improve women’s access to health care. In light of
the high maternal mortality rate and prevalence of Family Reunification
gender-based violence, give particular attention to re- While family reunifications are happening every week,
productive health care. more time is needed to successfully trace missing children
and missing family members. Finding a child‟s relatives,
7. Implement a near-term strategy to ensure wom-
however, does not automatically mean that the child has a
en’s safe access to cooking fuel. In the longer term,
new home that is safe and nurturing. Where reunifications
develop alternative fuels that are healthier and more
have taken place, only limited efforts have been made to
economically and environmentally sustainable than
follow and examine the conditions to which children are
the current reliance on charcoal.
being returned. Consequently, in some situations, placing
8. Implement national educational campaigns seek- a child with her/his extended family may be akin to a resta-
ing to prevent violence against women and girls, vek situation—socially sanctioned domestic servitude.
especially rape and other forms of sexual violence.
A number of families have been unwilling or unable to take
9. Provide improved services to women and girls in a child, and many families are currently facing tremend-
who are survivors of violence, including medical ous hardships, which increases the risk of secondary se-
care, counseling, legal assistance, shelter services, paration from parents and caregivers, especially for child-
and access to economic opportunities. ren living in poor and displaced households. Such separa-
tion can heighten the risk of exposure to abuse and exploi-
tation that can irrevocably damage a child‟s development.
CHILDREN If Haitian families are not able to recover from the earth-
Before the earthquake, children in Haiti were already fac- quake, fewer and fewer families will have the capacity to
ing threats of violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, exploita- care for their children and see to their needs, placing even
tion and abandonment. As UNICEF noted, in their evalua- more children in precarious situations.
tion of their own response, the earthquake “exacerbated a
pre-existing crisis by collapsing an already inadequate and Residential Care
weak system that was failing to protect those most vulner- Pre-earthquake estimates put nearly 50,000 children in
able. Children in Haiti are now caught in the midst of a residential care, some of them with a parent, some with
child protection emergency of unprecedented magni- both parents and some with no parents, all placed in these
tude.”2 Since the earthquake, 500,000 children are institutions for a variety of socio-economic reasons. Most
deemed extremely vulnerable and in need of child protec- of these care facilities—labeled as orphanages—fail to
tion assistance, while an unknown number have lost one meet international standards, which call on care providers
or both parents. Given that most rapid response mechan- to consider what is in the “best interest” of the child, and
isms during the emergency phase did not put children at thus leave the children open to abuse, violence, neglect
the center of their response, many in the child protection and exploitation.
community recognized that the earliest and possibly the
Alternative Care and Adoption
best opportunity to link children with primary caregivers
When alternative care, such as placement of children in
may have been lost. However, subsequent efforts did look
small-scale, family-type group homes, is not possible, safe,
to resolve this concern and worked to insulate children
inter-country adoption might be an option. However, since
from separation from parents or caregivers. Nine months
3 Restavek is a Haitian Creole term that is taken from the French, reste avec, which
literally means “stays with.” It is used to describe children who are sent to live with
2 other family members or other families. These children find themselves in situations
_Six_Months_Report_Final.pdf, p. 10. of unpaid domestic service, with no opportunities for schooling or other basic rights.
4 Ibid, p.13.


Haiti is not a part to the Hague Convention on the Protec- standards for staff in such facilities; so the centers are of-
tion of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Inter- ten run by staff with limited resources and/or limited know-
Country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention), safe- ledge of child development or protection.
guards are not in place to prevent illegal, irregular, prema-
ture or ill-prepared adoptions abroad. The leadership of IBESR is opposed to family based
care/foster care, as currently promoted by UNICEF and
Restaveks and Trafficking others in the international community, in part because of
UNICEF estimates that approximately 2,000 children per the added oversight these require, being private, smaller
year were trafficked to the Dominican Republic prior to the care sites. They have a genuine concern that such ar-
earthquake. An estimated 300,000 children were living as rangements could end up as little more than „officially
restaveks. It is assumed that the effects of the earthquake sanctioned‟ restavek situations. At the same time, IBESR
have only magnified the risk of both, requiring vigilance has not proposed viable alternatives to such an approach.
from the wider protection community and also from the
Government of Haiti. There are no IBESR social workers at the Haiti-Dominican
Republic border, resulting in child protection cases being
Education referred to Cap Haitien, 90 minutes away, a troubling cir-
When asked, Haitian people say that their children‟s edu- cumstance given the dangers of cross-border trafficking of
cation is second only to livelihood recovery in terms of children. When coupled with the fact that very few Brigade
priorities, this despite the fact that only 55 percent of child- for the Protection of Minors (BPM) officers are assigned to
ren went to school before the earthquake and even fewer this area, the risks for children become critical.
have returned to classes afterwards.
A total of 4,992 schools in Haiti were affected by the Given the levels of international interest among donors and
earthquake, resulting in approximately 2.5 million children NGOs and the openness of the Haiti government, we have
experiencing an interruption in their schooling. While a a chance to address larger systemic issues affecting child-
large number of schools have reopened, most of these ren in Haiti. There is an opportunity to develop a compre-
require schools fees, which many households are unable hensive child protection strategy which operates from the
to afford. Additional challenges include removal of rubble best interest of the child and works to “ensure that children
from collapsed school buildings to facilitate rebuilding; hu- everywhere in Haiti can realize their rights to survival, edu-
mane relocation of people currently living in school yards cation and protection, remain shielded against economic,
(according to international standards related to the reloca- environmental and social shocks, and grow up with dignity
tion of disaster-affected people); and the absence of and hope in the future.”
teachers, many of whom are among the displaced and
thus lack the means to continue to work. Recommendations:

Government capacity 1. Strengthen the child protection system across Haiti
The Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR) and at the border with the Dominican Republic:
has overall responsibility for addressing the needs of child-
It is essential to continue to train and build staff ca-
ren in Haiti. IBESR has limited staff (a number of whom
pacity in IBESR, BPM and the Ministère des Af-
were lost in the earthquake), budget and capacity and is
faires Sociales et du Travail (MAST). Areas of em-
sensitive to criticisms about its effectiveness. While orpha-
phasis need to be basic child protection, interna-
nages, residential care facilities, and children‟s centers
tional standards, including best interest determina-
must be certified by IBESR, once they are certified there is
tion, and legal procedures.
little ongoing oversight or monitoring of the facilities. There
also does not seem to be any protocol regarding minimum Empower and train more Haitian social workers to

5 Ibid, page 14. 6 Ibid, p.4.

serve as case workers and provide monitoring ca- nate to pass a viable adoption law in accordance
pacity relative to all of the child care institutions. with the Hague Convention on International Adop-
Provision of salary support would be a critical tion.
means to ensure stability to such a program.

At the border with the Dominican Republic, build 4. Immediate action must be taken to combat child
and increase the child protection capacity of the trafficking and indentured labor (restaveks).
BPM and increase the number of protection officers
The international community needs to encourage
assigned to patrol the border.
the government of Haiti to establish a national cam-
Since only 30 percent of children in Haiti are regis- paign which would shed light on the plight of resta-
tered at birth and the lack of a birth certificate veks.
creates barriers for children to access their basic
Material and financial support needs to be provided
rights, relevant government ministries must make
birth registration, even in hard to reach areas of the to families to remove the financial incentive for child-
country, a critical priority. ren to be trafficked, put up for adoption, or sent to
live as restaveks.
2. Too many children are in institutions in Haiti.

The international and humanitarian community 5. Formal and non-formal education systems must
should work with the government of Haiti to support be strengthened.
and encourage family-based care options for child-
Ensure that the Government of Haiti prioritizes site
ren, find alternatives to institutions for long-term care
clearance and debris removal, identifies solutions
and protect children in institutions.
that adhere to international standards for the reloca-
Support local organizations, churches, community tion of displaced families presently occupying school
leaders and child advocates to establish “safe grounds, and speeds up school construction to en-
homes” for children. sure adequate space for all children before the next
school year. Caution may be needed when plans
Work with parents of children in residential care fa- are made to establish temporary schools near spon-
cilities and provide the former with psycho-social taneous settlements, as this could inadvertently en-
support (to strengthen coping skills), as well as live- trench communities in areas unsuitable for long-
lihood opportunities. term habitation and that lack essential services,
leading to the creation of new slum areas.

3. Reunification of children with families should be The government of Haiti and the Ministry of Educa-
the priority; international adoption should only be tion must work to provide longer-term solutions for
considered when it is in the best interest of the out-of-school children and address the need to
child. reform the education system to improve quality and
affordability (such as through teacher training, sala-
Link families who have taken in children from close ries for teachers, help for parents with school fees,
relatives to livelihood opportunities. and improved curricula).

Provide training for families about child protection Despite the seeming reluctance of the government
and the importance of keeping a child within the of Haiti, the international community needs to sup-
family as being in the best interest of the child. port the creation of more child-friendly spaces to en-
sure prevention of abuse and exploitation and pro-
Donor governments should engage the Haitian Se-
tection of children and to offer them a protective en-


vironment. For many of the children in the camps, es like health and water and sanitation. For displaced el-
there are multiple impediments to returning to or derly persons, shelter is a critical need. Even those who
beginning formal schooling. remained in the main nursing home—Asile Communale—
in Port-au-Prince were affected by the partial collapse of
buildings, the lack of personnel and scarcity of available
The earthquake resulted in up to 4,000 new amputees and
250,000 newly disabled people who have joined the ranks Recommendations:
of an estimated 800,000 people previously living with dis-
abilities. People with disabilities in Haiti have historically 1. As much as possible, integrate older Haitians into
faced neglect, discrimination, and a near total lack of ser- activities designed to support livelihood recovery,
vices. Perhaps no natural disaster has focused so much such as cash for work programs. Given that only gov-
attention to disabilities. In spite of this, while there has ernment employees have access to pensions, many
been a strong response among disability organizations older Haitians need financial assistance.
providing assistive devices, many mainstream humanita-
2. Train community health workers, nurses and oth-
rian agencies have failed to take into account the specific
er medical professionals to provide health care that
needs of people with disabilities in their education, health,
meets the needs of older Haitians. This includes sup-
shelter, WASH, employment, gender-based violence, and
port to local organizations that prior to the earthquake
food and non-food distribution programs.
provided home care for the elderly.
1. The recovery and reconstruction efforts in Haiti must (LGBT)
promote access and inclusion in all services for Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people
people with disabilities. faced particular protection challenges before the earth-
quake, from scapegoating, violence and discrimination to a
2. Humanitarian agencies should link with local dis-
dearth of economic opportunities and a lack of access to
abled people’s organizations that possess the
appropriate, sensitive and respectful health services. Of
knowledge and experience to appropriately shape and
particular concern in the health sector, Haiti‟s HIV/AIDS
influence service provision in the humanitarian re-
prevalence (2.2 percent) is one of the highest in the West-
sponse. 9
ern Hemisphere. Youth, sexual minorities and commercial
sex workers (CSW) are among the most at-risk of infec-
ELDERLY tion, yet face numerous challenges in accessing services.
There are about 800,000 people over 60 years old in Haiti, The earthquake has aggravated this situation for sexual
representing about 3.4 percent of the country‟s population. minorities, who have been accused of bringing about the
According to World Vision, of the over 1.2 million people disaster because of their behavior. In the post-disaster
displaced by the January 12 earthquake, about 84,000 context, sexual minorities remain highly marginalized and
were elderly. The elderly in Haiti endure various threats to underserved and continue to experience discrimination.
their safety, dignity and rights, especially due to the failure
to address their specific needs during the humanitarian Recommendations:
response. Among these various threats are food insecurity
1. Ensure that sexual minorities have access to ba-
(the elderly must receive meals appropriate for them to
8 sic services, including health and education, and
digest), physical insecurity, and threats to their property.
The elderly also face difficulties in accessing basic servic-
9 UNAIDS/WHO. « Epidemiological Fact Sheets on HIV and AIDS, Haiti, 2008
Update. »
8 Last Accessed: August 23rd, 2010.

are not discriminated against in the provision of camps. The unit needs translators in order to communi-
such services. cate with the population. In order to extend its reach into
other camps and into communities, it needs more staff
2. Support efforts to target and incorporate sexual and equipment, particularly transport.
minorities as a beneficiary population, particularly
with regard to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment 3. The GBV sub-cluster also needs more staff. It cur-
programs. rently has one coordinator, and her time is partly taken
up with UNFPA duties. Providing resources to UNFPA
so that they could employ at least one more coordina-
Protection subsets: tor would facilitate outreach by the cluster to Haitian
ADDRESSING GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE (GBV) grassroots women‟s organizations.
For more extensive analysis, please consult the paper
prepared by InterAction’s GBV Working Group. 4. Scale up efforts to expand services for survivors
immediately. Donors, NGOs, and Haitian organiza-
Eight months after the earthquake, progress in addressing tions must commit to expanding GBV prevention and
gender-based violence has been slow and emergency response efforts so that survivors get the assistance
needs are still present. Indeed, living conditions in IDP that they need.
camps and spontaneous settlements have served to ex-
acerbate and seriously increase the incidence of GBV in NGOs must strengthen their GBV capacity and pri-
Haiti. At the same time, not enough has been done to en- oritize GBV in their response efforts.
sure that women‟s protection concerns are sustainably
addressed in longer-term construction efforts. As the Hai- Donors must develop a proactive strategy for ad-
tian government and the humanitarian community seek to dressing GBV in Haiti and resource it properly.
“build Haiti back better,” there is a danger that the status
Haitian women‟s organizations must be brought to-
quo of discrimination and unequal opportunity will persist
gether with community-based groups to build upon
for women and girls.
past work to develop a plan of action to comprehen-
Recommendations: sively address GBV in a way that is fully inclusive of
the social and economic diversity of the population.
1. Address protection concerns before they worsen.
The protection cluster—in consultation with the GBV
5. Integrate protection and GBV into disaster risk
sub-cluster, MINUSTAH, women‟s groups and the
reduction strategies and pre-emergency planning.
government of Haiti—must develop and implement a
Experience in Haiti has illustrated that distribution of
comprehensive protection strategy, including a tar-
GBV guidance at the onset of an emergency has little
geted security plan, to enhance women‟s and girls‟
traction if emergency responders are not already fa-
safety. In addition, protection issues must be better
miliar with the principles of GBV prevention and re-
addressed across sectors, while heads of UN agen-
sponse. Skill sets must be built and strategies put in
cies, cluster leads and the humanitarian coordinator
place as a general rule of risk reduction and emergen-
must make it a priority to uphold accountability to min-
cy planning in all sectors to make them a matter of
imum GBV standards. The Interim Haiti Recovery
course in the next emergency.
Commission (IHRC) must also commit to ensuring
that protection issues are addressed in the projects 6. Advance women’s and girls’ economic and social
they review. empowerment in reconstruction efforts. Donors,
the Haitian government and NGOs must recognize
2. MINUSTAH’s IDP Unit must be better staffed and
and take action to redress the absence of women and
equipped. This unit is providing full-time policing pres-
girls in reconstruction and development plans. Raising
ence in a small number of camps and patrolling in other
the status of women and girls and ensuring they have


viable educational and economic opportunities are crit- ers, and strengthen legal systems to end impunity
ical to preventing gender-based violence and limiting for perpetrators of sexual violence.
the push factors to engage in survival sex. Priority
areas include:
Support women‟s groups at all levels of Haitian so- (SEA)
Sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) of beneficiaries by
ciety and ensure that they have a voice in recon-
humanitarian workers is an important consideration in any
humanitarian setting. Following the earthquake in Haiti, the
Adopt the Gender Shadow Report‟s recommenda- ensuing social disruption and the desperation of the people
tion to “facilitate a „surge‟ in women‟s participation as they sought to meet their basic needs illustrated why
and gender expertise in all relevant reconstruction effective accountability to beneficiaries is a critical aspect
processes, including the national steering commit- of the humanitarian mandate. Effective accountability also
tee and other relevant regional and international means making prevention of and response to SEA a top
processes.” The IHRC, in particular, must better en- priority for all agencies.
gage women‟s groups in their work, prioritize
Due to their prior presence in Haiti, entities such as the UN
projects to promote women‟s empowerment, and
Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had already set
monitor reconstruction efforts to ensure that they
up SEA response mechanisms, such as the Conduct and
benefit women equally.
Discipline Unit, prior to the earthquake. The Executive
Develop and implement a plan to economically em- Committees on Humanitarian Affairs and Peace and Secu-
power women. rity (ECHA/ECPS) UN-NGO Task Force for the Protection
from SEA quickly developed and distributed materials to
Support specific initiatives for girls‟ education. raise awareness of key SEA prevention messages. How-
ever, uneven responses by different agencies and a lack
of coordination among agencies resulted in beneficiaries
7. Build the capacity of the Haitian government to receiving inconsistent messaging about SEA and not hav-
address GBV. ing a clear system for reporting SEA.

Reconstitute and build the capacity of the Concerta- In April, the InterAction SEA sub-working group issued a
tion Nationale so that it can lead coordinated action series of recommendations about addressing SEA in the
across the Haitian government, donors and civil so- Haiti response, which drew on observations of the pre-
ciety to address GBV. vious four months. While progress has been made in
some of these areas, much still needs to be done, in a
Ensure that the National Action Plan to Fight Vi-
more focused manner.
olence Against Women and Girls remains compre-
hensive enough to meet the scale of need post- Recommendations:
quake or update it accordingly.
1. SEA needs to be its own sub-cluster under the
Support the Ministry of Women‟s Affairs to take a protection cluster, to be activated immediately at
leading role in addressing GBV and ensure that all the outset of an emergency with full staffing, fund-
relevant ministries are fulfilling their responsibilities ing, and resources. The Haiti experience illustrates
under the National Action Plan. clearly the lack of action if someone is not specifically
tasked with addressing SEA and also what is possible
Reconstitute the special unit within the Haitian Na- when someone is given such a mandate. Moreover,
tional Police dedicated to working with women and the experience with the child protection and GBV sub-
girls. Train police officers to appropriately assist clusters show that to adequately and quickly address
GBV survivors, support recruitment of female offic- SEA in a humanitarian emergency, it is important to

have focused and dedicated staff and resources. To neously in Port-au-Prince and surrounding regions after
date, coordination of SEA responses have been ma- the earthquake as a result of people‟s fear of returning to
naged remotely from various headquarters. With a unsafe residential areas and a lack of options for people
SEA sub-cluster, it will be possible to have better who never owned property.
coordination of all humanitarian response actors, the-
reby guaranteeing consistency in the response and More than six months after the earthquake, some camps
prevention activities. have regular monitoring and assistance while others do
not. The sheer number of camps, the plethora of agencies
2. If the protection cluster does not establish a SEA responding with ad-hoc interventions, and the disparate
sub-cluster, the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) involvement of the Haitian government have made it diffi-
must establish a fully funded, staffed, and re- cult to ensure that all sites have achieved a basic standard
sourced coordination cell at the outset of an that protects the life, dignity and rights of those displaced.
emergency, to oversee the aspects of SEA coor- Thievery, violence against women and children, and a
dination that require participation by multiple ac- general lack of order still characterize many camps. These
tors. A positive step was taken in this direction when problems have led international NGOs, multi-lateral organ-
OCHA sent a coordinator to Haiti to oversee SEA ac- izations and the UN to request the presence of the Haitian
tivities out of the HC‟s office. However, the coordinator National Police in the vicinity of the largest camps, and for
was not sent until the fourth month of the emergency UN peacekeepers to patrol through on foot instead of
response and she was only funded for a 3-month as- merely passing along the perimeter to observe such areas
signment. This assignment has now terminated, leav- by vehicle. Even in some of the most widely assisted
ing no one behind with a mandate to continue the es- camps, such as Champs de Mars, located near the Na-
sential coordination work; nor is there anyone to act tional Palace, acute protection problems persist.
on the comprehensive strategy put forward by the
coordinator prior to her departure. To ensure longer- Because of the danger posed by flooding and landslides,
term coordination and monitoring of SEA activities, several relocations of camp residents have taken place in
donors need to fund such work. The decision to locate Haiti since the onset of the rainy season. The U.S. military
the SEA coordinator in the Humanitarian Coordinator‟s conducted a survey of all camps and found that 19 sites
office guaranteed ongoing attention to the issue, as were at imminent risk of flooding and landslides. The UN,
well providing a mechanism for sustained coordination the U.S., and other major donors then formed the Coordi-
of SEA efforts, during the emergency response. nation Support Committee (CSC), which made recom-
mendations to the government of Haiti on next steps. The
3. To encourage meaningful progress and action on UN then worked together with the U.S. to prepare new
SEA, the seriousness of this issue needs to be sites for the relocation of residents of these high-risk areas.
emphasized at the highest levels, particularly by
senior management of humanitarian agencies. The area of camp management offers the opportunity to
This message was a major theme coming out of the develop concrete solutions to protection challenges. The
SEA coordinator‟s assignment in Haiti. She found that fact that the International Organization for Migration (IOM)
institutionalization of this issue and accountability must took the lead in the camp coordination and camp man-
be supported from the headquarters level down. Field- agement (CCCM) cluster, however, resulted in minimal
level representatives need clear policies, response improvements due to their limited experience in humanita-
mechanisms, and guidelines. rian settings.

Systems, sectors and processes
1. Support strong leadership of the Humanitarian
Country Team (HCT) in order to effectively
Camps are a relatively new phenomenon in Haiti, a direct
represent humanitarian and protection concerns
result of the disaster. Hundreds of camps arose sponta-


in decision-making processes. A lack of clear lea- with affected persons rather than hindered by it (posi-
dership from the HCT or the government of Haiti in the tive examples are provided in the August 31 Final Re-
early stages of the response left a leadership vacuum port of the Inter-Agency Real-Time Evaluation in Hai-
for camp management. “The CCCM and the Protec- ti). “Camp committees” exist that can help to facilitate
tion Clusters were particularly weakened by the fact communication with the resident population of settle-
that key actors, such as UNHCR, were not present in ment areas. However, while some committees are
country at the time of the disaster and could not be based on pre-existing community leadership struc-
brought in immediately due to a certain reticence at tures, others were created to facilitate distributions and
the HCT level.” Humanitarian leadership and opera- are not necessarily reflective of local leadership. Thus
tional and technical expertise were thus not asserted a number of methods, in addition to consultation with
in many crucial camp decision-making bodies, such camp committees, should be employed to facilitate
as the Coordination Support Committee (CSC), while meaningful engagement of affected communities in
military actors such as the U.S. Army and MINUSTAH programs that affect them.
took on greater leadership roles.
5. Rethink paradigms of camp management to im-
2. As leader of the CCCM cluster, IOM should devote prove applicability in urban contexts. As empha-
more resources to its protection work, putting into sized in the Inter-Agency Real-Time Evaluation Final
effect recommendations made by the protection clus- Report, the humanitarian community was not pre-
ter, recruiting more senior protection officers, and filling pared to respond to a large-scale urban disaster. Pa-
the current gaps in CCCM. radigms were applied that had been developed for
disaster response in rural areas—including the camp
3. Promote the inclusion of local and national Haitian management system—that were not adapted for use
authorities in camp management processes and in an urban setting. Combined with the general ten-
the CCCM cluster, including through consistent dency to overlook existing Haitian knowledge, exper-
use of French and Creole as official working lan- tise, and organizational structures, “camps were seen
guages. National authorities are largely absent from as the unit of intervention instead of neighborhoods
the CCCM cluster, and from the camps themselves. 11
and administrative areas of the city.” For example, a
While the government of Haiti‟s own capacity and staff map drawn up by the U.S. army divided Port-au-
were hard-hit by the earthquake, the fact that cluster Prince into sections without regard for pre-existing
meetings were initially held in English and at the diffi- municipal districts.
cult-to-access UN Logistic Base limited meaningful Hai-
tian participation. Many of the cluster meetings are still 6. Ensure that relocations are carried out with the
held in English and at the UN Logistics Base. None of informed consent of the camp population, with re-
the cluster meetings have Creole translation. spect for family unity and conditions of safety and
dignity, as per the Guiding Principles on Internal
4. Actively engage camp committees, local leader- Displacement. In April and May, several thousand
ship bodies, municipal authorities, and the disas- people were relocated to new camps in land selected
ter-affected population in camp management and by the government of Haiti. In the movement from Val-
decision-making processes. Interventions that lack ley Bourdon to Tabarre Issa, the international communi-
an analysis of existing community capacity or any ty was unaware of historical relocation efforts of the
meaningful engagement and consultation with the af- government of Haiti to remove residents from that loca-
fected population can result in negative consequences tion, which created additional tensions and confusion.
for the disaster-affected population. Speed and effec- Relocation was also the only option discussed during
tiveness can, in fact, be improved through consultation the information campaign, without assistance options

10 Groupe URD and the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI). Inter-Agency Real-Time 11 Groupe URD and the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI). Inter-Agency Real-Time
Evaluation in Haiti: 3 months after the earthquake. Final Report. August 31, 2010. Evaluation in Haiti: 3 months after the earthquake. Final Report. August 31, 2010.
Page 38. Page 45.

for other solutions, such as staying with a host family. In Eight months after the earthquake, only 7,000 transitional
the movement from Petionville Golf Club to Corail, it shelters had been constructed. Numerous issues stand
was noted that the site was not suitably prepared to re- in the way of transitional shelter construction and housing
ceive arrivals, the initial registration process did not take repairs, which are a major factor in ensuring that Haitians
into account the needs of vulnerable people, and there are able to live with basic standards of safety and dignity.
was a lack of information available for the at-risk popu- Most basically, international NGOs have faced unneces-
lation regarding relocation options. These are just some sary Haitian government bureaucratic delays and backlogs
examples of the serious problems with relocations and in their clearing of essential building materials shipped into
related protection concerns. Haiti, with Haitian Ministry of Finance and Haitian Customs
offices holding shipments in port for weeks or months. Al-
so, the debris from the earthquake is still strewn across the
PROVIDING SAFE AND DIGNIFIED SHELTER landscape, with rubble covering otherwise unsuitable land
One of the greatest direct impacts of the earthquake for and clogging drainage channels.
most Haitians has been the loss of their homes. According
to official Government of Haiti figures, the disaster destroyed The greatest challenge, however, is the nature of Haitian
nearly 190,000 homes, displacing 1.5 million people and land ownership. Even before the earthquake, Haiti‟s
leading to the creation of 1,300 informal settlements across records of land ownership were woefully inadequate, and
the country. The international community moved swiftly the earthquake‟s toll on the Haitian civil service only ex-
and effectively in the days and weeks immediately following acerbated the problem. Understandably reluctant to build
the disaster, frequently reaching or exceeding demand for semi-permanent shelters on land of unknown title, the ina-
tents, tarpaulins, rope, and other emergency shelter mate- bility to ascertain ownership of otherwise suitable property
rials among IDPs. However, as the humanitarian community has seriously inhibited NGO construction efforts. In addi-
moved from the initial disaster response phase to one more tion, owner-occupiers comprise a minority of tenants in
focused on recovery and reconstruction, the challenges Haiti, with renting being by far the most popular form of
faced became increasingly difficult. tenancy, especially in urban areas. This creates further
difficulties: Do Haitians owe back rent on their collapsed
The shelter cluster in Haiti‟s Response Plan divided the homes? Where does one build a transitional shelter for a
response effort into two phases. Phase one, mentioned person without any previous land ownership? How does
above, was to distribute tents, tarps, and related materials one convince landlords to allow the construction of transi-
so that Haitians could be provided with rudimentary shelter tional shelters on their land?
before the arrival of the rainy season in May. The second
phase, beginning in May and anticipated to continue for 12 A number of principles, considerations and priorities must
months, was the construction of “Transitional Shelter.” be assessed and considered in designing and implement-
Transitional Shelters are semi-permanent structures with ing a program for shelter reconstruction that respects the
durable roofs and wooden or steel frames designed to fundamental rights of Haitians and ensures protection from
provide solid cover for families for up to 3 years as perma- future harm, including as a result of natural disasters. On a
nent solutions are developed. In Haiti, most of the transi- micro level, more sites must be designated for disposing
tional shelters constructed by shelter cluster organizations rubble removed by cash-for work programs to increase the
will have the added benefit of being designed as resistant rate and efficiency of this effort. Haitian customs and the
to the hurricanes that often ravage the island. The goal of Ministry of Finance must work to expedite the movement
the shelter cluster is to build 135,000 transitional shelters of aid supplies through the country‟s ports. Most important-
by the summer of 2011. Additionally, there is an increased ly, the government of Haiti and the international community
focus on repairing disaster affected housing to run in paral- must work together to solve the issues inhibiting the con-
lel with the transitional shelter strategy. struction of proper shelter in Haiti. A concerted effort must

12 OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin #8. UNOCHA. July 30, 2010.
13 Emergency Shelter Response Plan. Haiti Shelter Cluster. February 2010. 14 OCHA ibid.


be made to provide secure land for transitional (and per- ported and incorporated into planning, especially dur-
manent) shelter. ing the resettlement process. Families hosting disaster
affected individuals or family members should be sup-
Recommendations: ported through programs that enable families to re-
main together.
1. All shelter and settlements programs should be
designed in consultation with and through mea-
ningful participation of the disaster-affected popu- PROTECTING HAITIAN MIGRANTS AND IDPS
lation and host communities. This includes persons OUTSIDE PORT-AU-PRINCE
with particular needs and/or vulnerabilities, in order to In the months following the earthquake, it is estimated that
best identify and address potential protection issues. around 600,000 earthquake-affected Haitians streamed
Shelter and settlement strategies should reflect local out of Port-au-Prince towards less developed and far less
preferences and conditions, be compatible with com- populated areas within the country. These include areas to
munity infrastructure, and build up the capacities of the east near the border with the Dominican Republic, and
Haitian organizations (government, Community Based communities further north and west that were not directly
Organizations, NGOs, and the private sector). affected by the earthquake but now host those displaced
by it. While some of the rural displaced relied on their ex-
2. Age, gender and diversity should be main- tended families for support, many families that at first wel-
streamed into shelter planning at all stages of de- comed their relatives were unable to sustain the additional
velopment. Shelter and infrastructure plans should burden of hosting them. Although some NGOs—
take into account the needs of local communities and particularly those present in Haiti prior to the earthquake—
persons with particular access issues, including per- have worked to provide assistance to those in rural areas
sons with disabilities, the elderly, women and children. hosting earthquake survivors, the vast majority of humani-
tarian aid over the past eight months has been centralized
3. Housing solutions should be part of a broader in the capital.
package to promote Haitians’ access to sustaina-
ble livelihoods, basic services and resolve land As a result of a lack of de-centralization of post-earthquake
tenure issues. Link reconstruction plans to poverty al- assistance and services, many of those internally dis-
leviation, durable job generation, and economic placed people who initially settled in rural areas have been
growth opportunities. Coordinate housing reconstruc- forced by destitution to return to camps in Port-au-Prince.
tion with infrastructure development, particularly water In some families, men have returned to Port-au-Prince to
and sanitation. Support programs to clarify land rights seek out livelihood opportunities, while women and child-
and ownership and improve security of tenure. Such ren remain displaced in rural areas. Other IDPs have been
programs would necessarily include the provision of left homeless in the streets of border towns, increasingly
identity documents to those who have been made vulnerable to smugglers and human traffickers who oper-
homeless or displaced by the earthquake. ate in the region.

4. Ensure that shelter reconstruction strategies and Despite the trend in returns to Port-au-Prince, there are still
building standards take into consideration the li- large numbers of earthquake-affected people in rural areas
kelihood of future earthquakes and other natural in Haiti; it is estimated that 100,000 reside in the Central
hazards. This and broader disaster risk reduction ef- Plateau alone. The Partnership for Local Development,
forts would go a long way to protect Haitians from fu- which works with various peasant farmer organizations in
ture harm resulting from those hazards. Artibonite, has reported that rural communities in the area
have had no access to support from UN agencies or assis-
5. Family unity should be prioritized in shelter and tance programs aimed at host families. UNHCR has been
settlement strategies. Long-term shelter solutions able to access some, but not all, host communities on both
should work to ensure complete family units are sup- sides of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Re-

public and has been a leader in advocating within the UN Haitian population in the Dominican Republic, with
system for greater attention and assistance to host families. Haitians wary of approaching the authorities to seek
Issues of access, capacity and expertise have impeded the assistance with recovering documents, accessing
protection cluster, led by OHCHR from Port-au-Prince, to health or education services, or reporting incidents of
effectively monitor the protection situation in areas outside of sexual or physical violence to the police. After the
the capital. More than six months after the earthquake, Dominican Republic‟s moratorium on deportations ex-
NGOs working in communities along the Haitian/Dominican pired in March, several incidences of mass deporta-
Republic border have reported a spike in incidences of food tions of Haitian migrants have been documented, in-
insecurity, intra-family gender-based violence, smuggling cluding a recent expulsion of 50 Haitians on Septem-
and trafficking of Haitian children over the border. ber 1, 2010, from the border town of Jimani in the
Dominican Republic. The expulsion reportedly oc-
In addition to those internally displaced by the earthquake, curred without screening the migrants for individua-
those who have migrated beyond Haiti‟s borders have lized protection concerns (for example, to attempt to
faced varying degrees of insecurity and protection issues, identify potential cases requiring asylum or trafficking
especially since persons displaced due to natural disasters victims); without access to legal services or human
are not covered by the international legal protection re- rights NGOs; and without offering integration services
gime. Despite not being required by international law to do to the deportees upon arrival in Haiti.
so, a number of countries took positive initial steps to ex-
tend protections to earthquake-affected Haitians who mi- In the Bahamas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued
grated outside of the country and those Haitians who were a statement on August 16, 2010, that “illegal Haitians”
already outside of the country and were rendered unable must “voluntarily return” to “their country of origin or be
to return home as a result of the earthquake. The Domini- subject to apprehension and deportation.” NGO ob-
can Republic and the Bahamas were rightly lauded by the servers fear that such statements may increase xeno-
international community for their gestures of friendship, phobia, insecurity, and social exclusion of the already
solidarity, and support in the early days after the earth- vulnerable Haitian population.
quake, including agreements to temporary suspend depor-
tations of Haitians and the issuance of special temporary The United States has been a leader in extending pro-
visas to Haitians who could prove they had entered the tection and assistance to Haitians affected by the
countries as a result of the earthquake. The U.S. has earthquake. In addition to the stay on deportations and
halted all deportations of Haitians and granted Temporary granting TPS to Haitians in the U.S. as of January 12, a
Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians already in the U.S. as number of Haitians were allowed to enter the U.S. on
of January 12. Yet a number of ongoing protection issues temporary visas to receive emergency medical treat-
remain for Haitian humanitarian migrants, including those ment, and/or were granted humanitarian parole status.
in the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and the U.S. However, the U.S. continues to employ an interdiction-
at-sea policy known as the „shout test‟ that jeopardizes
In the Dominican Republic, communities that have the ability of vulnerable Haitians to access international
received Haitian migrants were often ill-equipped to protection by not requiring the U.S. Coast Guard to
deal with the traumatized earthquake survivors. Hai- proactively screen Haitians to identify persecution that
tians displaced to the Dominican Republic have large- might be grounds for refugee status, or serious human
ly settled in the poorest and most marginalized com- rights violations such as human trafficking. Meanwhile,
munities, already home to Haitian migrants and per- U.S. migration policy could further expand protections
sons of Haitian descent. They have integrated into a to Haitian earthquake survivors and preserve family uni-
population that already suffers social exclusion, lacks ty if a number of follow-up measures were taken.
access to health and education services and reports
the highest malnutrition rates in the country. Fear of Recommendations:
deportation has resulted in increased isolation of the
1. Support IDPs and host communities in rural areas


outside of Port-au-Prince. Humanitarian assistance 5. Assisted voluntary return programs for Haitians,
as well as development initiatives must target earth- including those currently being carried out by
quake survivors and host communities in areas out- IOM, should include transportation to communi-
side of the capital, especially through job creation and ties of origin and sustainable income-generation
micro-credit programs. Otherwise, congestion in components, so as not to place further strain on bor-
camps in Port-au-Prince (and associated protection der communities in Haiti already hosting large num-
issues) will continue, as will destitute IDPs‟ vulnerabili- bers of the displaced.
ty to protection concerns that are exacerbated by ex-
treme economic deprivation in rural and border re- 6. Haitian migrants intercepted at sea by the U.S.
gions (such as prostitution and human trafficking). Coast Guard and all other agencies should be
made aware of their rights and given the opportu-
2. Increase presence of staff (including UN agencies nity to express persecution claims or protection
such as UNHCR and UNICEF) in border regions concerns, in Creole and in a place of safety. In this
between Haiti and the Dominican Republic to way, Haitians in need of international protection
monitor and respond to protection issues such as should be identified, in accordance with refugee law
human trafficking. Staff should take special efforts to and human rights law and standards.
monitor alleged trafficking of children, women and
other vulnerable persons across the border; promote 7. The U.S. should extend humanitarian parole and
prosecutions of alleged traffickers; and provide assis- temporary legal status to close Haitian family
tance to trafficking victims. Also, given legal require- members of U.S. citizens, U.S. legal permanent
ments to liaise with the Haitian National Police (HNP) residents, and TPS beneficiaries. This would better
in order to resolve certain issues pertaining to child preserve family unity for those families currently di-
abductions and trafficking, more properly trained HNP vided as a result of the earthquake.
child protection officers should be deployed to the
Following the catastrophic destruction of homes and offic-
3. The newly-reactivated Bilateral Commission (of the
es in and around Port-au-Prince, there remains a major
Dominican and Haitian governments) should revise
problem of lack of documentation for individuals and a loss
and monitor the implementation of the 1999 bilater-
of government records. National identity cards, college
al agreement on repatriations. The current bilateral
diplomas, and population data have all gone missing. Lack
agreement requires that deportations be conducted
of documentation leaves many Haitians unable to enjoy
during daytime hours and at official border posts. A re-
their basic rights and constitutes a protection challenge.
vised agreement should comply with all international
Without identity cards, for example, people may be unable
human rights standards. Also, the Dominican Republic
to vote in the upcoming presidential elections, currently
should reactivate the CONARE, the commission that
scheduled for November.
meets to determine asylum applications.
The government of Haiti is well aware of this challenge.
4. Countries hosting Haitian migrants should be
Efforts to build up a comprehensive civil registry in Haiti are
urged to continue to stay deportations on humani- 15
in place and the government has begun the difficult task
tarian grounds. Safe and dignified returns would re-
of providing identity cards to 5 million people in two months
quire time and resources invested by the Haitian au-
in order to be prepared for the November 28, 2010, elec-
thorities and international actors to ensure adequate
integration mechanisms and access to services for
deported Haitians upon arrival in Haiti, both of which
would divert time and attention from resolving more
pressing issues related to earthquake relief and re-
covery. 196/10

tions. The OAS has committed to providing 850,000 Seismic and hydro-meteorological events—including
cards but this falls short of meeting the need. heavy rainfall, tropical storms, and hurricanes—regularly
result in small and large disasters in Haiti, particularly
Recommendations: flooding and landslides. Yet it is the vulnerability of the
population that compounds the situation and results in a
1. Support the registry and documentation process
risk of extreme harm as a result of these events. Vulnera-
as an emergency need in order to prepare for
bility derives from many of the areas regularly highlighted
coming elections. Meanwhile, ongoing efforts must
by DRR experts, including poor building standards, settle-
focus on improving government records and individual
ments in areas prone to flooding or landslides, and the
documentation, including by registering children and
near total deforestation of Haiti and its mountainous land-
scape. Proven disaster risk reduction strategies include
2. Support the government of Haiti to carry out birth developing disaster early warning and evacuation sys-
registration of newborns, including in camps in and tems, promoting locally-appropriate hazard-resistant hous-
around Port-au-Prince but also in peri-urban and rural ing, enforcing stronger building codes, and supporting sus-
settlements, in order to facilitate access to government tainable reforestation projects. Yet there are many compo-
services and prevent potential statelessness. nents of vulnerability that can only be understood through
meaningful consultation with the affected population: one
case in point is the fact that many of the earthquake-
PROTECTION AND DISASTER RISK REDUCTION related deaths that occurred in Haiti were the result of
At its core, protection is about rights, the most fundamental people bleeding out from wounds that were otherwise not
of which is the right to life. Events that violate a person‟s life-threatening, which could have been addressed through
right to life, especially when they are due to actions or basic first aid.
omissions of responsible authorities, are at the core of
what a protection approach should seek to stop, respond Recommendations:
to, and/or prevent. Both natural and man-made hazards
threaten the well-being and survival of Haitians and loss of 1. Ensure adequate financial resources are available
life due to both is preventable. Disaster risk reduction to invest in disaster risk reduction activities that
(DRR) has emphasized this concept, wherein the number mainstream protection and are incorporated
of deaths that result from a natural hazard (such as an across sectors, including health, livelihoods, water
earthquake or tsunami) can be lessened if the vulnerability and sanitation, food security, and shelter/housing pro-
of affected populations is reduced. If governments are to grams. In order to best address the safety, dignity and
take their civilian protection obligations seriously, then dis- rights of populations affected by natural disasters, pro-
aster risk reduction activities are part of the panorama of tection should be mainstreamed into DRR efforts, in-
activities that fall under a broad rubric of protection. This is cluding through the application of core principles such
not to say that all DRR activities are protection, or that pro- as participatory processes and a rights-based ap-
tection in all contexts should include DRR; but in Haiti, proach. It will be critical for donors (and donor coun-
where natural hazards are one of the greatest threats to tries), the Haitian government, international organiza-
life, DRR should be part of a comprehensive approach to tions and the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to
protection, and should be carried out in a way that main- incorporate meaningful DRR into recovery efforts. The
streams core protection tenets, including participatory disaster risk reduction community advocates that a
processes and respect for the rights of individuals and minimum of 15 to 20 percent of program budgets tar-
communities. get disaster risk reduction. All of these components
can be coordinated through a recognized national
platform that was established as one of the major pil-
lars of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
284/10 2. Ensure that the affected population is consulted


about what makes them vulnerable to harm from
disasters, and that their meaningful participation
is part of DRR planning and implementation. In or-
der to be effective, DRR approaches should acknowl-
edge and address the extreme vulnerability of the
population as a major factor in their risk of harm. Un-
fortunately, many internationally funded post-disaster
recovery and reconstruction programs to date have
not adequately increased the capacity of Haiti to re-
duce disaster losses even against well-known ha-
zards. Also, the Haitian Red Cross should greatly in-
crease the amount of first aid training provided in
schools, camps and to committees in Haiti.

3. Incorporate a rights-based approach in all DRR
programs. Resettlement efforts, which may be ne-
cessary to reduce risk of extreme harm from natural
hazards, should be carried out with the informed con-
sent of the affected population.

18 Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI) and Groupe URD. Inter-agency real time
evaluation in Haiti: 3 months after the earthquake (final report). August 31, 2010.
Page 12.