Sunday, 14 March 2010

Haiti – After the Earthquake - Vulnerable populations need protection

Haiti is no longer in the news, but the earthquake that devastated the country, killing more than 100,000 people and making more than million homeless, is obviously going to have long-term consequences. One major consequence is the resurgence of violence and the government, severely weakened by the earthquake, is powerless to ensure the rule of law.

The country’s main prison, the National Penitentiary in Port-au-Prince, was destroyed in the quake and violent criminals escaped. They are now trying to regain control of the most deprived and vulnerable communities, according to Amnesty International. In response, some community members have formed vigilantes to protect themselves, and AI received reports of lynching and killing of looters. There are also reports of looters being shot by the police.

But the most vulnerable people in a situation of spiraling violence are women and children, AI warns. With families separated and schools destroyed, thousands of children need protection from trafficking and irregular adoption. Women, too, are vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers, as well as increased risk of sexual violence.

Protection of human rights should be at the core of relief and reconstruction efforts, the organization urges.

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