Friday, September 24, 2010

The Displaced of Haiti: Long-Term Challenges and Needed Solutions

The Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will publish September 27, the document "The Displaced of Haiti: Long-Term Challenges and Needed Solutions," a report on a recent mission to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas to study the situation of Haitians displaced by the January earthquake.

A link to the report will be provided through this blog on that day. Members of the news media also are invited to participate in a telephonic briefing on this topic with Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, as well as CLINIC and USCCB staff who participated in the mission. (Members of the media call 202-541-3200 for additional info.)

“It is clear that efforts to clean up and recover from the earthquake are progressing slowly,” said Archbishop Wenski. “However, the international community must remain steadfast in working with the Haitian government to reconstruct the country and strengthen its institutions. The survival and long-term future of the Haitian people are at stake,” said Archbishop Wenski upon returning from the fact-finding mission.

Following the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, tens of thousands of Haitians were forced from their homes and out onto the streets. While the international community provided a great deal of help in this time of crisis, including the distribution of daily necessities and the construction of tent camps, challenges continued to surface in the following months.

Tent camps are not a permanent solution. It has become critical to build long term shelters so that the Haitian people can continue on with their lives. Clearing away the debris and rubble that was left in the aftermath of the earthquake is a constant struggle, but a crucial first step in reconstruction efforts that are ongoing.

Children in particular are at risk of being trafficked, both domestically and also to countries in the surrounding region. Confronting this threat head-on remains a primary challenge for the Haitian government, the Dominican Republic (Haiti’s next door neighbor) and for the international community as a whole.

The effects of the earthquake are not felt in Haiti alone, but have spilled over into the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and surrounding countries. How are government officials from surrounding countries dealing with Haitians who are trying to start a new life? Will they put into place mechanisms that will help to integrate Haitians into their community or will they put into place policies that will further alienate them going forward?

Observations and recommendations moving forward will be published September 27 in "The Displaced of Haiti: Long-Term Challenges and Needed Solutions," a Report of the Committee on Migration of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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