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Displaced Haitians: “We Can’t Continue in This Situation Anymore”

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We visited Camp Corail, one of the hundreds of camps for displaced people in Haiti. We spoke to two displaced Haitians, Romain Arius and Fenel Domercant. They talked about how little aid has trickled down to the 1,300 families in the camp. They were told they would only be in the camp for three months, but long after the deadline they continue to wait for permanent housing. [includes rush transcript]

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StoryAug 25, 2021Haiti’s Villages Continue to Be “Cut Off from Help” More Than a Week After Massive Earthquake
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Six months ago today, one of the worst natural catastrophes in the world took place: the earthquake here in Haiti. We go now to Camp Corail, right near a killing field, a dumping ground for bodies years ago during the coup, but now, right next to Camp Corail, one of the refugee camps. We’ll hear from Haitians in the camps.

    ROMAIN ARIUS: [translated] My name is Romain Arius. This camp, what I think about it, according to the information they gave us, when they told us when we were coming here that we would live well. But what we saw when we got here and the way we live here, it’s the contrary. The place where we are here, when it’s hot, the sun makes the tents hot. Very hot. And also the wind comes and blows the tents and wrecks them. The people who were responsible for the last camp where we were, when they brought us here, they said we’d be here for three months under these tents. Three months has already passed. We have not yet gotten to the definitive houses that they said they were going to give us.

    AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to happen now?

    ROMAIN ARIUS: [translated] What do I want to happen now? All the information that they give the Pétionville club, we would like to benefit from them, to see them. In the situation we’re living here in the tents, we can’t continue like that anymore. We would ask them as soon as possible to give us the real houses that they said they were going to give us, so that our situation could improve. Because the tents are torn, when it rains, rain comes in. We have a very exemplary or a very indicative block, Block 6. It’s a zone which is completely unpassable when it rains. And the people who are in charge of that should take some action to improve the life of us here in Corail.

    AMY GOODMAN: What is your name?

    FENEL DOMERCANT: [translated] Fenel Domercant. The real problem we have here, I can tell you, it’s not the question of bits of rice and grains of beans. We lived in the Delmas Camp. They decentralized us. They sent us here to Corail. And they said that for us to come here, as it was a little far, they said, “Come here, and you’ll live better.” But living better here, this is what it’s become today. We’ve been here for three months. The tents are starting to get ripped. Rain comes through. And the NGOs that are responsible, they haven’t said anything. And we had a meeting where we met with Mr. Richard Poole, who’s the manager of this camp. And we had him talk to us about the 1,350 families that are living here. And the way he talked to us, it made us feel like he had nothing to tell him about our situation here. And he, in effect, asked us, were we living better than we were living now in this camp today. And that’s something that really vexed the 1,350 families which are living here.

    AMY GOODMAN: Where is President Préval?

    FENEL DOMERCANT: [translated] President Préval, he said that the money that they freed up for us after the earthquake, it’s not in his hands, it’s in the hands of the NGOs. And we found that, in fact, it is in the hands of the NGOs — the IRC, World Vision, the IOM, Oxfam. That’s where the people’s money is. And they haven’t said anything.

    AMY GOODMAN: What would happen if President Aristide were to return?

    FENEL DOMERCANT: [translated] If President Aristide were to return? We aren’t in anything political, but if he would return — since you posed that, I’m going to respond to you. If President Aristide were here, I can tell you, it’s not like this that we would be living. We would be living better than we’re living now.

    AMY GOODMAN: What do you want the world to know six months after the earthquake?

    FENEL DOMERCANT: [translated] What I would like the world to know six months after the earthquake, we want them to know that the participation that they gave to help the people after the earthquake, it hasn’t arrived with the people — above all, here for Corail.

    AMY GOODMAN: So, we’re leaving here now, this camp, Camp Corail. It’s between two, actually, killing fields in the history of Haiti, where people were dumped during the coup and, before that, during the Duvalier regime. There are about 1,300 families here. They were told they’d be here for three months. They don’t know — it’s past that. They don’t know what’s going to happen, as we walk out on these sharp white rocks that are boiling during the day. Even inside the tents, it was stifling, even in the wind of the night, because there’s no air inside. They don’t know what’s going to happen here at Camp Corail, and we’re hearing this in different parts of Haiti.

    I’m Amy Goodman. It’s six months after the earthquake.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. Tomorrow we stay in Haiti with an Academy Award-winning Hollywood star who’s moved to Haiti to help the refugees. He’s running a refugee camp. He’s Sean Penn.

    SEAN PENN: The earthquake hit the news, and I had had a personal experience with one of my children having a surgery in that year and seeing just how important pain medications can be during surgery and hearing of the kind of Civil War-style medicine that was happening here, because, you know, it was a poverty earthquake. And so, you have the devastation on top of devastation. And part of that was an already crippled healthcare system. And so, when amputations were taking place with children and elderly and everybody in between, they were doing it with a Motrin.

AMY GOODMAN: Tomorrow on Democracy Now!, our exclusive hour with the Academy Award-winning actor. He’s moved to Haiti. He’s been here for the last five months, since the earthquake struck. As we broadcast to you from Haiti six months after the earthquake, I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

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Haiti’s Villages Continue to Be “Cut Off from Help” More Than a Week After Massive Earthquake

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