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Haiti still faces ‘alarming threats,’ rights groups say

By Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald –

MIAMI — Despite foreign assistance after their country’s devastating 2010 earthquake, Haitians continue to face “alarming threats” from deplorable living conditions, a broken justice system and the United Nations’ refusal to take responsibility for its role in the outbreak of a deadly cholera epidemic, according to a report issued Monday by Haitian and international human rights advocates.

“For the roughly 370,000 victims of the earthquake still living in displaced person camps, the situation deteriorates by the day,” the International Federation of Human Rights said upon releasing “Haiti: Human Security in Danger.” “The exceptional inflow of international humanitarian aid averted an even worse disaster and served to protect the lives of thousands of people who survived the catastrophe, but lost everything they possessed. … It has sadly not resulted in strengthening the capacity of the Haitian people themselves to take charge of rebuilding the country.”

The blame, the report said, can be shared by Haitian authorities, who have failed to respond to the needs of the masses through sound policies and reforms, and other nations “who have imposed their ‘solutions’ in a confused and incoherent manner.”

The findings and recommendations in “Haiti: Human Security in Danger” were based on a visit this year to five camps, two relocation sites and a prison. The federation and Haiti’s National Network for the Defense of Human Rights called on decision-makers in Haiti to press for policies aimed at improving and protecting Haitians’ lives.

Among the recommendations: a national housing program; a moratorium on forced camp evictions; reducing prison overcrowding; and improving management of the cholera epidemic, which has killed more than 7,000 people and sickened more than half million.

In particular, advocates say, the U.N. Stabilization Mission “should formally acknowledge its responsibility for negligence in the cholera epidemic scandal.”

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