A Devastating Blow to Haiti’s Most Vulnerable
It is with heavy hearts that we share news of the complete destruction of the Shada II neighborhood of Cap-Haitien, the community where SOIL first launched our work in 2004. On Monday, June 15, the entire community, home to more than 1,500 families, was razed by tractors and heavy machinery. Community members have reported receiving no warning about the impending destruction of their homes.
SOIL has a long history of working in and partnering with the Shada II community, and without their support and feedback we would never be where we are today. We have staff who have lived in Shada for decades, and SOIL provides household toilet service to more than 50 families there. On Monday, when we heard of the demolition, we immediately sent our collection teams into the community to try to remove containers of human waste, which could exacerbate the public health risks if not safely transported out of the neighborhood. We made one successful collection run but during subsequent efforts our collection agents were stopped by police and unable to remove the remaining containers in time. Although we have been able to recover some of the remaining containers over the past few days, due to ongoing demolition operations we have not yet been able to retrieve them all.
At this critical moment in global history, when the world is grappling with the combined public health emergencies of COVID-19 and systemic racism, we feel it is critical that we call attention to human rights issues that impact the communities we serve. There are many unanswered questions about what happened in Shada II last week, and we urge human rights groups to investigate. At the same time, SOIL stands in solidarity with the thousands of innocent people who lost their homes and belongings, and we recommit our organization to sustained social change. True change demands that all stakeholders come to the table to shine a light on the injustices suffered by vulnerable communities caught in the crosshairs of larger political, economic, and social forces, particularly at a moment when the world is facing an unprecedented crisis that calls for compassionate ingenuity and proactive support to those most at risk.
At SOIL, we believe that every community has the right to safety, and we look forward to working in partnership with all stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to addressing communal violence while ensuring that communities are able to thrive and have continual access to essential services – a human right. We hope that what happened in Shada will lead to clearer understanding of the rules of engagement and more equitable processes for addressing insecurity in other parts of Haiti so that no more innocent victims are harmed.