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Report: Haitian Camps Squalid, Plagued by Violence

Report: Haiti still has a number of challenges, including maintaining order in the camps, which are plagued by violence.
Report: Haiti still has a number of challenges, including maintaining order in the camps, which are plagued by violence.

A refugee advocacy group says displaced Haitians continue to live in overcrowded, unsanitary camps that are plagued by violence -- nine months after a deadly earthquake ravaged the nation.

The Washington-based Refugees International issued a report Thursday saying the U.N.-directed humanitarian response in Haiti appears to be paralyzed, and more resources and experienced personnel are needed urgently.

The group says people displaced by the January earthquake have been forced to live in camps for long periods of time that, combined with dwindling food and other assistance, has led to increased levels of violence, including sexual assaults.

It says the displaced are being preyed upon by gang members, and that camp managers are ineffective, arbitrarily appointed or completely absent.

Addressing the U.N. Security Council last month, U.N. Special Representative Edmond Mulet said Haiti still has a number of challenges, including maintaining order in the camps, which he said were still plagued by sexual violence.

Refugees International notes that Mulet serves both as the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti and head of the peacekeeping force in the nation.  The group says a full-time humanitarian coordinator must be established to more adequately protect the rights of the displaced.

It is calling on donor nations to fund the U.N. refugee agency to allow it to increase its staff and better coordinate the humanitarian effort in Haiti.

A  7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit near Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, on January 12, killed more than 200,000 people and left more than a million others homeless.  

International donors have pledged nearly $10 billion for the Western Hemisphere's poorest country.  Mulet told the Security Council in September that not all countries have followed through on their pledges, and he urged them to do so.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who is a U.N. special envoy for Haiti, visited tent camps in the country Wednesday and heard from the residents about the insecurity, squalid conditions and lack of jobs.

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