USCRI Commends Haitian Partners' Post-Earthquake Efforts
January 11, 2011
Washington, D.C.— One year after the devastating earthquake leveled much of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) urges the international community to fund local organizations’ efforts to build a strong civil society in Haiti. USCRI commends our Haitian NGO partners for their hard work and dedication over the past year to protect the human rights of vulnerable survivors.
Shortly after the earthquake, upon receiving requests for help from two prominent local organizations—Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés (GARR) and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI)—USCRI deployed staff to assess the Haiti-based agencies’ capacity to respond to the situation.
“These local organizations may not get the most attention or the most money, but ultimately the future of Haiti belongs to the Haitian people,” said Lavinia Limón, USCRI President and CEO.
USCRI and GARR established a protection program to monitor the well-being of displaced people in camps and host communities. This program brought targeted assistance to 5,000 vulnerable people unable to access mass distributions of aid. GARR also empowered communities to organize and protect themselves by bringing their concerns to the attention of local mayors and national authorities.
“I am proud of the leadership provided by GARR and congratulate its entire team for persevering through what has been a difficult year, to say the least,” said USCRI Director of International Programs, Sarah Williamson.
The Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH), and its Port-au-Prince based affiliate, BAI, continue their long history of advocating for the rights of Haitians. Over the course of last year, the organizations mobilized international volunteer lawyers and successfully advocated in several critical areas.
“The work of IJDH and BAI is vital to protecting vulnerable Haitians,” said Tricia Swartz of USCRI’s National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children. “For example, the groups are responsible for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) making the ground-breaking recommendation that the Haitian government take immediate measures to prevent sexual violence against women and girls in displacement camps.”
USCRI thanks the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the American Bar Association (ABA) for their support of our joint efforts with GARR, IJDH, and BAI.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is a non-profit, nongovernmental organization that has served refugees and immigrants and defended the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons worldwide since 1911. USCRI's national network of community-based partner agencies helps thousands of refugees build new lives in the United States each year.