A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Agencies call for upholding of standards to protect vulnerable people
International aid agencies Oxfam, World Vision and CARE urge the Haitian government to ensure new camps are ready to receive earthquake survivors before more evacuations take place. The call comes as agencies rush to prepare a new site in time for people who must be relocated due to the high risks of mudslides and other disasters in their current locations when the rainy season begins.
The government has recently identified a site in Corail Cesselesse (15 km north of Port-au-Prince) for the resettlement of 7,500 people from the Golf Club in Petionville, and relocation has begun with little advance notice. Because of the late identification of the site, aid agencies that assist in preparing camps have little time to undertake crucial consultation with affected people, and to coordinate work to ensure quake survivors’ needs are met.
In the future, relocation sites must be selected in advance so that necessary preparation can take place with care, including laying gravel on the ground to prevent dust storms and flooding, demarcating shelter sites, and placing latrines in strategic locations that ensure the safety of residents, especially women and children at night.
“We realize this is an emergency relocation due to impending rains and we are moving with utmost urgency to prepare this site. But future moves cannot be done in this last minute fashion. The government and the international community must ensure that any moves are well-planned and adhere to humanitarian principles that ensure people’s safety and respect their rights,” said Marcel Stoessel, head of Oxfam in Haiti.
Consultation is key
The agencies said that any movement of people to new sites should follow a clear long-term plan for resettlement that ensures human dignity, which means access to food, water and toilets, safe shelter, measures to protect personal safety, and information that helps people make informed choices.
Before a resettlement takes place, people need to be consulted with real engagement to determine their options for moving; they must be assured that movement is wholly voluntary unless their lives are in danger; they must receive support before, during and after the move (including hygiene kits and food aid); the moving process must be safe for all involved, especially for the most vulnerable; and services relocated people receive at new sites must be on par with services they received at their previous location.
“It is important that the government of Haiti take the lead in ensuring basic standards are met in the resettlement process. But the international humanitarian community should step in to fill gaps and ensure that the response is not only coordinated but also preserves the rights and the dignity of the affected population,” said Liz Satow, Acting Response Manager of World Vision.
Download the report: Haiti: A Once-in-a-Century Chance for Change
Watch the video: Rebuilding Haiti: Haitians say jobs are key to recovery
Explore the map: Oxfam's response to the Haiti earthquake
In detail: What Oxfam is doing in Haiti