Joint Security Assessment Report

MINUSTAH Human Rights Section - 2010-03-30


The Joint Security Assessment (JSA) was initiated in response to growing concern at the protection of IDPs in camps and consequent the implications for human rights and political stability, and with the aim of providing a rapid analysis of the evolving situation and the impact and short-comings of current efforts to assure security, particularly with regard to the prevention of GBV and the protection of children. Led by the MINUSTAH Human Rights Section, the JSA was comprised of PNH (Police Nationale Haitienne), MINUSTAH UNPOL, Militaries, Community Violence Reduction (CVR), Joint Mission Analysis Center (JMAC) and Joint Operation Tasking Center (JOTC), as well as UNICEF, the GBV Sub-Cluster and UNFPA. A majority of team members were women. Between 14 and 20 March 2010, the JSA conducted multiple visits to seven IDP sites in Port au Prince and Leogane, meeting with IDP inhabitants, especially women, camp committee members, “security brigades” established by IDPs, and NGOs working in the camps. Sites were chosen so as to provide a representation of large and small, stable and less stable sites.

The JSA found there was a near unanimous perception of insecurity, among IDPs in camps. IDPs linked insecurity to incidents of rape, other violence, and widespread theft within or immediately outside camps, and the presence of escapees and gang members. They also linked it to emotional trauma from the 12 January events and the lack of psychological counseling, very poor living conditions, concern about the upcoming rains, the vulnerability of their shelters, weakened support networks (including State capacity), very high unemployment (89%), mounting frustration at inadequate food distributions and access to basic needs (health care, education, etc), and uncertainty about their future. When inquiring about the security situations of IDPs, the JSA found that most respondents first wanted to talk about adequate shelter, access to food and water, and employment.

Three categories of factors emerged as key to security. Firstly, the JSA found that where the IDP community was itself cohesive, then security was relatively good. Cohesion within camp communities, and good relations between IDPs and the wider community were fundamental to IDP security. Camp committees and security brigades, formed from within camp populations, have generally helped increase stability, but were sometimes also cited as sources of corruption, abuse, tension and self-interested misrepresentation of information. Secondly, the physical organization of Camp spaces influenced actual and perceived security. Women and girls repeatedly described their sense of vulnerability from the lack of private bathing facilities, latrines within the camp perimeter and inadequate lighting, leading them to restrict their movements at night. Parents expressed fears that children were vulnerable to crimes, and children stated their own fear at some aspects of the camp environment. The congestion in camps, the material used for shelters and the use of open fires to cook create a major fire risk in several of the larger camps. Thirdly, a lack of adequate policing of camps was universally cited as a security problem. Reports from the PNH and UNPOL of the frequency, including on foot, of their patrols rarely matched corresponding reports from IDPs who said they rarely saw police, almost never at night and then only in vehicles driving by. This reveals, at a minimum, a problem of visibility and methodology. There was also limited communication between camp committees and the police. Severe PNH capacity constraints, including lack of transport, compounded the fact that there did not appear to be a policing strategy that was known to PNH officers conducting the patrols. The JSA found that UN POL capacity, methodology and strategies could be strengthened further. Strong protection commitment by PNH, UNPOL and UN military leadership, expressed to the JSA, should be translated into a strategic plan for the policing required and requested by IDPs, especially women.

The JSA considered emerging factors that may increase pressure on the protection environment of IDPs in camps. The imminent rains will place, over time, tens of thousands of people at serious risk from flooding and landslides increase the risk of epidemics, increase pressure on the limited land in Port au Prince that can safely accommodate IDP shelters, and force many people to relocate to sites more distant from employment, services and policing. These factors, along with future restrictions on delivery of food and non-food assistance, the fragility of the law and order environment and the potential politicization of the situation of IDPs in camps in the run up to elections, combine to create an increasingly challenging and serious protection environment in the months to come, and beginning by mid April. The protection of IDPs requires the protection of human rights and the provision of durable solutions. Without adequate protection of this large proportion of the population there is a risk of serious human rights violations and political instability. Security for IDPs is a necessary platform for other protection efforts. With respect to actual and immediate physical insecurity, the JSA identified a series of recommendations.

1) Camp community

1. Camp committees should be supported in organizing social activities for camp inhabitants and surrounding communities, including for children.

2. Launch a public information campaign sharing messages of “dignity” and “solidarity” for all.

3. Assign a State official (civilian authority, not PNH) to each large camp and mobile officials for smaller camps to facilitate information flows to and from IDPs, resolve disputes, and assume responsibility.

4. Child Protection committees should be established with a view to promote child protection issues in the camps.

5. Ensure full distribution of referral cards for GBV and other violence.

6. Camp Committee members and Camp Security Brigades should both include at least 40% women.

7. Appoint Camp Managers to a much higher number of Camps. . In larger sites, camp committees should be duly elected by the camp inhabitants to ensure their accountability and avoid problems relating to self-appointed “gatekeepers”. Camp managers should include women.

8. Facilitate the setting up of women’s groups within the camp and create linkages between the groups and the camp management to ensure that victims of violence feel confident enough to report cases of GBV.

9. Learn from existing IDP children’s and women’s safe space initiatives

10. Establish a “Community” or “Human Rights” Tent at major IDP sites, to receive complaints, liaise with the police, serve as a neutral arbiter, and disseminate human rights and other information.

11. Ensure that women/girls as well as community leaders/members are aware of legal provisions in case of rape/sexual violence.

12. Publish a concrete, time bound plan for durable solutions and share the broad outlines with IDPs, and give repeated updates.

13. Distribute manual charging radio/flashlights and whistles.

14. Provide training for camp leaders on basic human rights standards, including on Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and in responding to fire and flooding hazards.

2) Camp spaces

1. The number of people affected by the earthquake and the limitations on the land available for provision of shelter, has made it impossible to fully respect the SPHERE standards for all camps. The Government and international humanitarian actors must continue to work toward meeting those minimum standards, as a prelude to implementing durable solutions as above.

2. Every IDP camp over 100 persons should have adequate lighting, including near toilets and bathing areas, ideally delivered, installed and maintained by a single donor.

3. Safe spaces for children and women should be established, for instance, through a ‘cash for work’ crèche, assistance for child feeding programs and a women’s tent in each.

4. A policy on dismantling empty shelters should be considered.

5. All latrines and bathing facilities should have suitable privacy screens, and ensure the privacy and dignity of IDPs.

6. Consider limited numbers of entrance and exit points from camps, where possible and safe, to mitigate risk of intrusion.

3) Policing

1. Government should list human and material resources for IDP policing, including women officers.

2. Government and the UN, should design an “IDP Camp Strategic Policing Plan” that: proposes new models for joint (PNH, UNPOL, UN military) policing to maximize available resources; schedules the maximum number of patrols, including on foot and at night; establishes a high number of static posts, possibly with UN military backing for police; includes women officers; seeks training; includes regular meetings between PNH/UNPOL and committees and other community policing aspects; is prepared in draft by 14 April.

3. All patrolling officers should be trained on Gender and Violence and on legal provisions with regard to cases of rape and GBV.

4. Review guidelines for how security forces respond to violence during their patrols and require training on GBV, child protection and persons with disabilities.

5. Ensure that actors participating in policing are provided with information on how/where to refer specific cases, including to the Brigade de Protection des Mineurs (BPM) and the Coordination Féminine.

6. UN Military should report on IDP security in Critical Information Reporting.

7. MINUSTAH and the international community should provide PNH with suitable equipment and, in this context, a review of the policy on shared use of assets by UNPOL and PNH is recommended.

8. Offer food packages for PNH participating in patrols.

9. Strengthen emergency call systems, including a “duty” phone (with phone credit and solar chargers) in camps (at least one with a woman), a warning lights system, and dissemination of information on the hotline.

10. Pursue efforts to identify and detain criminal gang members.

In addition, contingency protection assessments should be conducted for emerging situations, including: protection support to persons in camps during heavy rains that may lead to flooding; protection support to persons who move to proximity sites; protection actions in the event of epidemics. In addition to the focus on women and children, all recommendations should be taken into consideration the particular protection needs of persons with disabilities and the aged.