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One Year After the Haiti Earthquake

Statement by Michel Gabaudan, President, Refugees International

Washington, DC -- “One year after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, Refugees International remains concerned over the plight of the 1.3 million people who are still living in displacement camps. The international relief operation since the quake has saved many lives, including their current vital work to contain the cholera epidemic. But despite the huge efforts of international and Haitian agencies the living conditions in the camps are way below international standards.

"During the move towards reconstruction in Haiti, the dangers faced by the most vulnerable must not be forgotten. The uncertainty over the Haitian presidential election continues to leave the country without the necessary leadership to guide recovery and identify land for housing. As a result, people will continue to live in squalid camps and will need ongoing assistance until they can re-establish their homes and livelihoods.

"Many camp residents live in fear of gang violence, rape and sexual violence. We are pleased that the UN peacekeeping mission is taking more steps to protect women by increasing UN police presence and starting to provide translators in the camps. But to improve security longer-term, donor governments must provide more support to rebuild the Haitian National Police, particularly their women's and children's units.

"The relief effort would have been more effective in Haiti if international agencies had taken more time to identify and work with Haitian civil society organizations. Refugees International continues to call on international humanitarian actors to coordinate activities with Haitian civil society groups and ensure their voices are heard during recovery planning.

“Refugees International urges UN and international agencies to apply lessons from Haiti to future natural disasters. Increased displacement from large-scale natural disasters is challenging an already stressed international humanitarian system. Agencies must continue to improve the way they deliver assistance and protection to people affected by these catastrophes.”

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Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises and receives no government or UN funding. While some progress has been made in the last few months, the organization released a ground-breaking report in October highlighting failures in the humanitarian response entitled, “Haiti: Still Trapped in the Emergency Phase.” For more information, go to www.refugeesinternational.org.

For Immediate Release: January 11, 2011
Contact: Refugees International, Megan Fowler
Cell: +1-202-828-0110 x214
[email protected]