The Story of the Haiti’s Earthquake Camps

12 February 2020 — Internationalist 360°

Timothy Schwartz
Haiti’s Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake – a decade ago this week — was one of history’s great natural disasters. However, it was not as great as the world’s large humanitarian relief organizations and their allied media outlets would have us believe. It became a money-making tragedy.

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Nine Months After the Quake – A Million Haitians Slowly Dying By Bill Quigley

11 October, 2010 — Counterpunch

“If it gets any worse,” said Wilda, a homeless Haitian mother, “we’re not going to survive.” Mothers and grandmothers surrounding her nodded solemnly.

We are in a broiling “tent” with a group of women trying to raise their families in a public park. Around the back of the Haitian National Palace, the park hosts a regal statute of Alexandre Petion in its middle. It is now home to five thousand people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake.

Nine months after the quake, over a million people are still homeless in Haiti.

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Report: Haiti Recovery 'Paralyzed'

8October, 2010 — Common Dreams

Refugees International says agencies co-ordinating Haitian relief efforts are “dysfunctional” and “inexperienced”.

More than a million Haitians remain in squalid “emergency phase” camps, nearly nine months after January’s earthquake, and security is still a major problem, a new report says.

The findings from US-based advocacy group Refugees International said that more than 70 per cent of refugee camps in Haiti face daily threats of violence and intimidation.

“The people of Haiti are still living in a state of emergency, with a humanitarian response that appears paralyzed,” the report said. “Gang leaders or land owners are intimidating the displaced. Sexual, domestic, and gang violence in and around the camps is rising.”

It charged that the non-governmental organizations co-ordinating the recovery efforts in the country were often dysfunctional and lacking in experience.

“Action is urgently needed to protect the basic human rights of people displaced by the earthquake,” Refugees International said.

‘Huge job’

The UN has rejected some of the report’s criticisms. Imogen Wall, a spokesperson for the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told Al Jazeera that the word paralyzed, in relation to its operations in Haiti “is completely the wrong word”.

“We have one of the largest-scale humanitarian operations in the world running now … and just keeping that show on the road is a huge job,” Wall said

She said security remained a real concern for t, and that efforts were being made to improve the situation, but that “at the moment, we are struggling to find the capacity to deal with it”.

The massive earthquake, which struck Haiti on January 12 killed some 300,000 people and left millions more homeless.

Findings unsurprising

Little progress has been made to find permanent shelter for those living in the around 1,300 camps ad-hoc camps set up, Refugee International said.

It criticized the International Organization for Migration, which is responsible for co-ordinating and managing the camps in Haiti, and the United Nations operations in the country for not giving priority to actions to protect quake victims.

Al Jazeera’s Sebastian Walker, who has been reporting from Haiti since the earthquake struck, said the organization’s findings were unsurprising to anyone who has spent time there.

“News that the situation in the camps is simply appalling really isn’t anything particularly new. We’ve seen for many months now this very large displaced population of more than a million Haitians living in very basic conditions,” he said.

One example, he said, was the existence of just five toilets at a camp in Port-au-Prince where around 5,000 people reside.

Child Inmates Crowded Into Haiti's Dangerous Post-Quake Prisons By Alice Speri

6 August 2010 — Truthout

Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Eleven-year-old Carmen Suze quarreled with a classmate and ended up in jail. Her voice barely audible, she explained that her friend had lifted her skirt and had been the first to throw a rock, and that she didn’t know how badly she had hit her back. Suze’s father offered the girl’s parents some money to take her to a hospital, but they didn’t, and she died eight days later.

Suze is the youngest of 58 minors currently incarcerated in Port-au-Prince’s penitentiaries, held next to adult inmates, with no trial and in degrading conditions, Haiti’s National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) denounced last month.

Like much of the country’s infrastructure, Haiti’s penitentiary system suffered huge losses in the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince last January. Some 4,000 inmates escaped when the country’s largest prison collapsed, and while hundreds were rearrested in the following weeks, many more remain on the loose.

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Haiti's Ransom By Isabel MacDonald

6 August, 2010 —

It has been nearly seven months since a devastating earthquake killed upwards of 250,000 people in Haiti. But judging from recent media coverage, it would appear the country’s future hinges on just one question: “Will Wyclef be the next Haitian president?”

Yet far larger questions loom, on the eve of the August 7 deadline for presidential hopefuls to declare their candidacy for Haiti’s November election.

Where, for instance, is the money that will be required for Haiti’s rebuilding—a task that could cost 14 billion dollars, according to an Inter-American Development Bank study.

More than three months after a UN conference in which 5.3 billion dollars were pledged for Haiti’s reconstruction, only four countries (Brazil, Norway, Estonia and Australia) had paid into the UN’s Haiti Reconstruction Fund.

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Haiti's colonial overlord By Ashley Smith

5 August, 2010 —

Ashley Smith analyzes the role of Bill Clinton’s Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission and other institutions that claim to look out for the interests of Haiti’s poor.


Bill Clinton speaks to the press as a little boy, badly injured in the earthquake, rests (Master Sgt. Russell E. Cooley IV)

AMID THE hoopla over Chelsea Clinton’s wedding at a posh estate north of New York City, there were plenty of toasts in the media to Bill Clinton and the good works he’s performed since leaving the White House.

In particular, Clinton’s role in working with Haiti, both before and after the catastrophic earthquake last January, was singled out.

To the U.S. media, Clinton is a compassionate statesmen, with only the best interests of the Haitian people at heart. Particularly since this year’s quake, he has been viewed as a decisive leader who can ‘get things done,’ in contrast to the country’s ineffective government. Because of his role as co-chair of the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), Esquire magazine called Clinton ‘CEO of a leaderless nation,’ the Miami Herald repeatedly refers to him as the ‘czar of the recovery effort.’

Ordinary Haitians have a different view. They remember Clinton as the man who, while president, demanded Haiti follow the ‘Plan of Death’–the neoliberal prescriptions of the IMF and World Bank that ‘structurally adjusted’ the Haitian economy in the interests of U.S. business, at the expense of the country’s peasants and poor.

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The Haiti story you won't read By Laura Wagner

3 August, 2010 —

Months after I was trapped under the rubble, I returned to the place we don’t want to think about

When I came back to Haiti in early April, after having been injured during the earthquake and evacuated a few days after, I was prepared to be shocked by the transformation of a city I once knew. Instead, what struck me was how quickly I adjusted to empty lots and mounds of broken-down rubble where landmarks used to be. Well-pressed and coiffed schoolgirls still gossip and giggle in the scant shade while waiting for tap-taps to drive them to class. People sleep under tarps and in tents in sweltering, unseasonable heat but still manage, somehow, to look professional and neat. A teenage amputee lies in her hospital bed, drumming her fingers to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A” and wondering when she’ll go back to school, and when the American missionaries will deliver on their promise to take her lòt bò, to the “other side,” the United States. On the street and on crumbled porches, people slap mosquitoes and make jokes, even jokes about the earthquake. And these things are lovely retentions, a heartening sign that the everyday humanity did not die even when so many people did.

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Crossover Dreams: A guide for American journalists: How to report on Haiti when you visit again six months from now By Ansel Herz

23 July, 2010 — Huffington Post

Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Actor Sean Penn, who is helping manage a camp of displaced earthquake victims in Haiti, is making pointed criticisms of journalists for dropping the ball on coverage of Haiti. He’s wrong. I’ve been on the ground in Port-au-Prince working as an independent journalist for the past ten months. I’m an earthquake survivor who’s seen the big-time reporters come and go. They’re doing such a stellar job and I want to help out, so I’ve written this handy guide for when they come back on the one-year anniversary of the January quake!

For starters, always use the phrase ‘the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.’ Your audience must be reminded again of Haiti’s exceptional poverty. It’s doubtful that other articles have mentioned this fact.

You are struck by the ‘resilience’ of the Haitian people. They will survive no matter how poor they are. They are stoic, they rarely complain, and so they are admirable. The best poor person is one who suffers quietly. A two-sentence quote about their misery fitting neatly into your story is all that’s needed.

On your last visit you became enchanted with Haiti. You are in love with its colorful culture and feel compelled to return. You care so much about these hard-working people. You are here to help them. You are their voice. They cannot speak for themselves.

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Haiti: Six Months After the Earthquake…The Deadly Realities of Imperialist Aid

July 25, 2010 — Revolutionary Communist Party USA

Six months ago, on January 12, 2010, a powerful earthquake struck Haiti, an island nation of about 9 million. The quake killed at least a quarter million people, and left over 1.5 million homeless. As Revolution brought out at the time, this devastation did not result solely from a natural disaster. It was made massively worse by a century of U.S. domination and especially by conscious U.S. policies of the last 30 years. These policies systematically destroyed much of Haiti’s agricultural economy, forcing millions of former peasants to crowd into the small capital of Port-au-Prince in the hope of finding jobs or education. This flood of people was densely packed into poorly constructed housing, in conditions of extreme poverty, with little infrastructure—and all sitting on a known earthquake fault about which the people were never warned—and no basic housing codes were created and enforced, no emergency plans developed, etc. It was known that Port-Au-Prince would be a death trap in the event of a likely earthquake—but nothing was done about this. So the deaths of hundreds of thousands were not an “act of god” or “fate”—they were an imperialist crime against humanity. (See Revolution, #s 189-191 and #196.)

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Video – Six Months After the Earthquake: Deep Wounds in Haiti

19 July, 2010

Six months after the earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people, the dust is starting to settle over Port-au-Prince. As it does, the deep wounds that fracture this country are re-emerging, more gaping than even before.

One-and-a-half million people remain displaced, many living under tents and tarps. Rubble removal is slow, and rebuilding has yet to begin.

The UN and NGOs are as omnipresent as the rubble – but the chasm between Haiti’s poor majority and the foreign organisations that say they are here to help seems as wide as ever.

And while the quake may have forced the international community to realise that Haiti needs a state, Haitians are debating who is up to the task of governing.

Al Jazeera’s reporter in Port-au-Prince Sebastian Walker hosts this special edition of Fault Lines.

Haiti: Six Months On Video Report By Al Jazeera

19 July, 2010 — Al Jazeera

Six months after the earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people, the dust is starting to settle over Port-au-Prince. As it does, the deep wounds that fracture this country are re-emerging, more gaping than even before.

One-and-a-half million people remain displaced, many living under tents and tarps. Rubble removal is slow, and rebuilding has yet to begin.

The UN and NGOs are as omnipresent as the rubble – but the chasm between Haiti’s poor majority and the foreign organisations that say they are here to help seems as wide as ever.

And while the quake may have forced the international community to realise that Haiti needs a state, Haitians are debating who is up to the task of governing.

Al Jazeera’s reporter in Port-au-Prince Sebastian Walker hosts this special edition of Fault Lines.

Haiti, Six Months After the Earthquake By Amy Goodman

14 July, 2010 — Common Dreams

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – July 12 marked the six-month anniversary of the devastating earthquake here in Haiti that killed as many as 300,000 people and left much of the country in ruins. Up to 1.8 million people are living in squalid tent cities, with inadequate sanitation, if any, no electricity and little security, or any respite from the intense heat and the worsening rains. Rape, hunger and despair are constant threats to the people stranded in the camps. Six months ago, the world seemed united with commitments to help Haiti recover. Now, half a year later, the rubble remains in place, and misery blankets the camps, layered with heat, drenched by rain.

After landing in Haiti, we traveled to one of the more than 1,350 refugee camps, Camp Corail. It is right near Titanyen, which was used as a dumping ground for bodies during the first coup against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and which, after the earthquake, was used for makeshift mass graves.

Corail is on a flat expanse of white gravel, with orderly rows of tents. During the day, the camp becomes searingly hot, with no trees for protection.

Corail resident Romain Arius told me: “In the situation we’re living here in the tents, we can’t continue like that anymore. We would ask them as soon as possible to give us the real houses that they said they were going to give us so that our situation could improve.”

Soon after we left, we heard that a storm collapsed at least 94 tents and sent hundreds of residents fleeing to find shelter.

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Misery and Despair Plague Haitians By Stephen Lendman

14 July, 2010 — Stephen Lendman

Six months after Haiti’s January 12 quake, inadequate relief has arrived, numerous accounts calling conditions hellish, unsanitary and unsafe – New York Times writer Deborah Sontag’s July 10 article for one, headlined, “In Haiti, the Displaced Are Left Clinging to the Edge,” saying:

“Conditions around Port-au-Prince “contain a spectrum of circumstances: precarious, neglected encampments; planned tent cities (with poor sanitation); debris-strewn neighborhoods, (and only) 28,000 of the 1.5 million (or more) displaced moved into new homes,” the affected areas “a tableau of life in the ruins.”

Oxfam’s Julie Schindall said “Everywhere I go, people ask me ‘When will we get out of this camp?’ ” She doesn’t know so can’t say.

In her July 3 article, Montreal Gazette writer Sue Montgomery headlined, “Haiti’s camps of despair,” saying “life in Haiti’s 1,300 camps is crowded, unsanitary and increasingly dangerous, (an ongoing) miserable, boring existence….proper housing (and pre-quake conditions) years away” at best.

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Where Is Haiti's Bailout? By Isabel MacDonald

13 July, 2010 — Common Dreams

After the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, Western leaders announced bold blueprints for building a “New Haiti.” This reconstruction, they emphasized, would be “Haitian-led,” based firmly on the principle of respect for “Haitian sovereignty” and carried out through “full and continued participation” by Haitians, “consistent with the vision of the Haitian people and government.” At the March 31 International Donors Conference Towards a New Future for Haiti at the UN headquarters in NYC, nearly 10 billion dollars were pledged for Haiti’s recovery. Nicholas Sarkozy — the first French president to visit Haiti since the latter won its independence from French colonial rule — proclaimed during his historic February 2010 trip to Port-au-Prince, “International aid must be massive and be there for the long term.”

“Now is the time to step up our investment in Haiti,” Clinton reiterated in April at an Inter-American Development Bank meeting in Washington, D.C. Yet six months after the earthquake, the plan for a “New Future for Haiti” (a “Haitian-led” effort which is curiously being funded under World Bank oversight, through a commission whose 20 voting board members include only seven Haitians) seems remote indeed.

A partial index of the West’s “humanitarian efforts” in Haiti so far:

  • Amount pledged for Haiti’s reconstruction over the following 18 months at the March 31 UN conference: $5,300,000,000
  • Percentage of this amount that has been paid: 1.9
  • Amount of pledged U.S. bilateral search and rescue assistance to Haiti that was delivered in the wake of the earthquake: $0
  • Value of the no-bid contract the U.S. government awarded the private prison group GEO in the month after the earthquake:$260,589
  • Ratio of U.S. pledges for Haiti’s reconstruction to Venezuelan pledges: 1:2
  • Value of aid the French government has promised Haiti through pledged contributions to UN agencies, NGOS and the Red Cross: $180 million
  • Quantity of this aid that has been delivered: $0
  • Cost of the French secretary of state for overseas development’s travel via private jet to a conference on aid for Haiti: $143,000
  • Estimated number of Haitians who remain homeless after the earthquake: 1,500,000
  • Amount that has been collected for Haiti relief by U.S. charities: $1,300,000,000
  • Number of Haitians without even tents or tarps for shelter: 232,130
  • Haiti’s global ranking in terms of the number of NGOs operating in the nation, measured globally on a per-capita-basis: #1
  • Haiti’s global NGO-per-capita ranking before the earthquake: #1
  • Ratio of Haitian-produced rice to U.S.-imported rice consumed in Haiti in 1985: 22:1
  • Ratio of Haitian to US-produced rice consumed in Haiti in 2000, 5 years after an IMF structural adjustment program went into effect reducing rice import tariffs: 1:2
  • Value of USAID’s current contract with a subsidiary of the parent company of American Rice Inc., the corporation that is considered to have most benefited from the demise of Haitian rice production: $126,000,000
  • Value of total French humanitarian assistance to Haiti since the earthquake: $35,956,408
  • Estimated value today of the compensation Haiti paid France for lost French slave trade profits after Haiti, a former French slave colony, won independence: $40,000,000,000

Isabel MacDonald is a Montreal-based freelance journalist. She can be reached at isabelmacdonald1 at

Land Ownership at the Crux of Haiti's Stalled Reconstruction

14 July, 2010 — Democracy Now!

Six months after the earthquake, many Haitians told us they have seen little in terms of recovery efforts despite the billions of dollars in aid pledged from around the world. At the heart of the matter is the issue of land ownership. We speak with journalist Kim Ives of Haiti Liberté. In his latest article, he writes the way the Interim Commission to Reconstruct Haiti is dealing with the issue of land “is the Haitian equivalent of the US bank bailout.”

In the Shadow of Ruins: Haitians Decry Conditions in Massive Tent City Across from Destroyed National Palace

14 July, 2010 — Democracy Now!

Haiti is struggling to recover six months after the earthquake—one of the worst natural disasters in history. Up to 300,000 were killed, and more than 1.5 million were made homeless. We go inside the Camp de Mars tent camp across from the crushed national palace in Port-au-Prince to let the Haitians living there tell their stories.

Haiti a police state run by the US & UN | Heavy rains under tarps and tents six months later…yet billions raised and available

14 July, 2010 — HLLN

Ezili Danto’s note: Many wrote to say they could not get to the last two articles posted. We’ve copied the article on the Ezili Danto blog for your convenience.

Ezili Dantò – Oil Deposits in the Caribbean basin – largest deposit ever

Other Recommended HLLN Links to mark the 6-months anniversary of the Haiti quake:

“They don’t give money to help out the kids, they must have hard hearts to let us suffer everywhere – A Haiti quake orphan.”  (Video – Haiti’s orphans still in crisis – promised aid has not materialized, yet billions have been raised and is available)

Flashpoints: an in-depth Look at Haiti six months after the Earth Quake. Kevin Pina interviews Ansel Herz and also Andre Liohn with more on that Small Fraction Video at the 44:39 minute mark. Haiti Interview (Begins at the 26:34 minute mark), July 12, 2010

Video – Immortal Technique: Haiti a police state run by US & UN

Video – Haiti: Heavy rains under tarps and tents six months later…yet billions have been raised in the name of the victims under tarps, sheets and tents

Huge Sums Raised, Much Unspent, After Haiti Quake : NPR

Video – Haiti aid pledges still unfulfilled, Militarization of aid, foreign soldiers getting paid more than 710million per year, but no security of Haitian women, Rapes soar in quake-hit

Report Questions NGO Accountability in Haiti Disaster Accountability Project (DAP) report slam NGOs for shocking lack of transparency, “violating public trust when they have so much cash on hand that would help to alleviate the suffering of the homeless and impoverished. It is now the rainy season and refugee camps and tent cities offer shelters that are little more than sweltering ovens.”

Video – Former President Bill Clinton tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the recovery effort in Haiti and his hopes for its future

High-Tech Hospital Goes Belly-Up In Haiti

Sowing Seeds of Hope or Seeds of Dependence? and

“We’ve Lost the Battle, but We Haven’t Lost the War:” Haiti Six Months After
the Earthquake

Forwarded by Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network

Oil Deposits in the Carribean basin – largest deposit ever discovered, under some of the poorest countries

11 July, 2010 — HLLN

“There is ample evidence that the oil reserves under the Caribbean Basin are on the same scale as those of the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden combined, and that they contain three thousand more times natural gas than oil. Energy reserves of that magnitude will change the geopolitical balance of the world, ….We know from a book Haitian President Bertrand Aristide put together in 2004, “Investing in People: Lavalas White Book”, that there are enormous amounts of natural resources in, under and around Haiti.  It was published in French and Creole, so that for the first time the people of Haiti could read and understand what they owned.  No more lies.  The book is an extremely detailed piece of work, and leaves no doubt that Aristide knew exactly what was at stake.  Massive wealth.  Oil, natural gas and gold.” (For entire article, go to FOUR LAYERS OF GOLD: oil, natural gas, polymetallic sulphides and hydrothermal energy. THE UNBELIEVABLE WEALTH THAT BABYLON WANTS TO STEAL FROM JAMAICA

BUSH’S IN THE BUSHES Why blow up a deepsea oil well and let it bleed?

Recommended HLLN Links:
Oil, Eugenics & Education – Marcus Kline

Video- Haiti, Oil Spill & Population Control – Marcus Kline

Did Gulf oil drilling destabilize faultline and cause the  Haiti earthquake

Who is Rajiv Shah, What are Haiti concerns about Shah/USAID

Voices of Haiti: South Florida

Forwarded by Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network

As "Temporary" Camps Linger, Tensions Rise with Haitian Landowners By Ansel Herz

9 June, 2010 — IPS

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jun 9, 2010 (IPS) – Thousands of victims of the January earthquake in Haiti are at risk of being displaced for a second time as private landowners throughout the nation’s capital city grow impatient with makeshift tent camps on their properties.

At a camp in the dirt parking lot of central Port-au- Prince’s Palais de L’Art events centre, fear and frustration are mounting as weeks have stretched into months with no word from authorities on when sustainable housing will be available.

The centre’s owner locked a metal gate shut Monday, forcing at least 150 camp-dwellers to climb over a partially- collapsed five-foot-high wall to access their shelters and belongings.

“If we had another place to go, we wouldn’t stay here suffering like this,” said Reynold Louis-Jean, who heads the camp organising committee. “We have elders, handicapped people, people who lost limbs. Now we have to carry them for them to get in and out.”

“He’s trying to force us out now. We can’t accept this,” he said as families carried buckets of water over the wall. The Red Cross stopped delivering water to the camp.

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Haiti: There Is Aid, and Then There Is US Aid By Paco Arnau

15 April, 2010 — MRZine/Monthly Review

Earthquake in Haiti
Soldiers Health Professionals Victims Assisted
United States

Source: Comparative figures of contribution to health in Haiti, as of 23 March 2010, based on Emily J. Kirk and John Kirk, “Cuban Medical Aid to Haiti” (CounterPunch, 1 April 2010) / Emily J. Kirk and John Kirk, “La cooperación médica cubana en Haití” (Rebelión, 7 April 2010)

This illustration was published in Ciudad Futura on 11 April 2010. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.