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Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and Colleagues call on U.S. Administration to Address “Appalling Conditions” in Haiti’s IDP Camps

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) along with 52 other members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on the U.S. Administration to “dedicate significant attention to the critical and urgent task of improving the appalling conditions in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps.”  

“We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti who continue to live in the deplorable conditions in IDP camps as a result of the January 2010 earthquake.  As a representative of the 2nd largest population of first and second generation Haitian immigrants, I understand how the United States is directly interconnected with this nation.  It is important that we continue to help our neighbors and allies in the Caribbean,” stated Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke.

The letter, co-sponsored by Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL) and Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force on Foreign Policy, notes that over a year after Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake, hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (or IDPs) remain in makeshift tent camps, with inadequate shelter that is “progressively deteriorating” and with limited or no access to basic services like water and sanitation. 

The letter addresses concerns regarding the lack of security measures in IDP communities and a dramatic increase in rape and other forms of gender-based violence in camps, as according to Amnesty International. 

“It is important that we continue to provide the proper security measures so that the most vulnerable populations which include, women, the elderly, and children are protected,” added U.S. Rep. Clarke.

The letter asks the “U.S. Administration to act decisively to respond to this intolerable situation” and makes concrete policy recommendations.  The signers urge that “accountability and transparency [be] brought to the task of IDP assistance” — in particular the efforts undertaken by organizations such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United States Agency for International Assistance and Development (USAID).  Other measures recommended in the letter include improved consultation and coordination with Haitians receiving assistance, and pushing for Non-Governmental Organizations contracting with USAID to “enforce complete coverage of IDP communities” and ensure “genuine local participation.”

“It is important that the international community continues to stay involved and work closely with the Haitian Diaspora as Haiti presses forward to a full and holistic recovery,” concluded Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. 

The letter highlights the great urgency of assisting people in the camps, given the imminent onset of Haiti’s rainy season, and the attendant threat of a spike in cholera cases and other water-borne diseases. Click here to access the letter.