Disaster Capitalists dismantle Haitian refugee shelters

Eight months after the earthquake, many of the 1.7 million Haitians living under tattered tarps in squalid squatter camps around Port-au-Prince are being forced to abandon the tent cities they've set up on privately owned land.

Meanwhile, businesses—eager to slurp up the spoils of disaster—are swooping in to score major paydays by moving the refugees to new camps, some set to operate as industrial work zones.

International Action Ties, a grassroots community development agency working in Haiti, says authorities are regularly flushing out the camps. The International Organization for Migration, which heads up the international aid response to the quake, has been unable to prevent expulsions and has been relegated to playing mediator between landowners and camp occupants.

A recent IAT report provides a vivid blow-by-blow of expulsions by Haitian police in the communes of Delmas and Cité Soleil: bulldozers demolishing flimsy shelters, policemen swinging batons and shooting their guns in the air, and several cases of sexual assault.

It's not even clear these landowners officially own the property that the displaced people are being expelled from. Murky titling laws have plagued Haiti since its early days, clouding landowners' claims with ambiguity and contributing to the country's current catastrophe.

In the absence of government leadership on this issue, businesses and NGOs are filling the gaps—and exploiting the situation. World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, plan to build a new city of 300,000 displaced Haitians, complete with garment factories, homes, stores, and restaurants. This new business zone will be in Corail Cesselesse, about nine miles from Port-au-Prince.

[Mother Jones]

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