updated 10/7/2010 7:19:19 PM ET 2010-10-07T23:19:19

A refugee-advocacy group said Thursday that more than 70 percent of camps in Haiti, home to an estimated 1.3 million earthquake victims, lack proper international management nearly nine months after the disaster, leaving them at increased risk of sexual and gang violence, hunger and forced eviction.

Washington-based Refugees International said researchers visiting Haiti found that few of the roughly 1,300 camps they studied had International Organization for Migration-appointed officials to turn to for help and protection and are unable to communicate or coordinate with the international humanitarian community.

"The people of Haiti are still living in a state of emergency, with a humanitarian response that appears paralyzed," the Refugees International report said. "Gang leaders or land owners are intimidating the displaced. Sexual, domestic, and gang violence in and around the camps is rising."

The Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed up to 300,000 people, left millions homeless and little progress has been made to find the vast majority permanent shelter. A recent AP investigation found that one reason more than a million Haitians are still homeless amid piles of rubble is that not a cent of the $1.15 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding has arrived.

'Action is urgently needed'
"Action is urgently needed to protect the basic human rights of people displaced by the earthquake," Refugees International said.

It criticized the International Organization for Migration, which is responsible for coordination and management of the camps in Haiti, and the United Nations operations in the country for not giving priority to actions to protect quake victims.

Refugees International's President Michel Gabaudan said the organization can do "far more" to put managers in the camps, coordinate assistance, and help protect people. The report noted that the International Organization for Migration has about 700 staff in Haiti, but only three are protection officers.

The report called for the U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR, which has decades of experience protecting the rights of displaced people and in coordinating camps, to co-lead protection activities in Haiti with the U.N. human rights agency. It also called on the U.N. to appoint a full-time humanitarian coordinator and increase police patrols "with officers that are properly trained, equipped, and have Creole translators."

U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is aware of the report but had no immediate comments.

"It's obviously highlighting very important matters including protection, especially of women, and that's been a major concern of everybody right from the start," he said. "We obviously share this concerns and we also want to see increased protection, particularly when it comes to sexual violence."

Security patrols lacking
As of Sept. 15, Nesirky said, 559 U.N. police officers were permanently present in six of the largest camps along with 640 U.N. military personnel. In addition, there are five mobile police units and another 704 military personnel carrying out mobile patrols at all times, he said.

Refugees International said "effective camp management and security patrols would also reduce risks of violence against women."

It said some local women who established groups in the camps to carry out their own patrols and teach self-defense have received death threats.

It said local agencies working on gender-based violence in the camps reported that they had received three times the number of reports of sexual violence than pre-quake. The teenage pregnancy rate in the camps is also extremely high, Refugees International said, and medical agencies reported receiving large numbers of failed "street abortions," some from girls as young as 10 years old. The organization said is also received reports "of women and girls forced to exchange sex for food, especially since the general food distributions stopped in April.

Story: Haitian kids clash with police over unsafe school

"In the absence of camp managers, self-appointed camp committees have sprung up," Melanie Teff, one of the report's co-authors, said in a statement. "In some cases, these are beneficial. But in others, these committees are made up of gang members, presenting themselves to aid workers as camp committees and intimidating camp residents."

"I was told of a case where a woman went to take her trash out and a group of armed men raped her and bit off her tongue," Teff said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Haitian NBA star returns to home court

  1. Transcript of: Haitian NBA star returns to home court

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: Nearly nine months after Haiti 's devastating earthquake, more than a million people remain displaced and 500,000 children are still out of school. TODAY contributing correspondent Jenna Bush Hager traveled there to see how the country is progressing. Good morning to you, Jenna .

    JENNA BUSH HAGER reporting: Good morning, Meredith . That's right , I went to Haiti with Haitian NBA player Samuel Alembert on a trip to his hometown of Port-Au-Prince , and he was shocked to find a very different country from the place where he grew up.

    Sports Announcer: Iver son up for grabs, and Dalembert ...

    HAGER: He's the powerful new addition to the Sacramento Kings . The 6'11" center is one of the top shot blockers in the NBA , a force to be reckoned with.

    Sports Announcer: Dalembert , who slams it for two.

    HAGER: But Samuel Dalembert 's journey to the NBA began on a very different kind of court. This is where you used to play basketball, here?

    Mr. SAMUEL DALEMBERT: Yeah. I remember everything here. You know, this tree has been here forever. You know, the track go all the way around. Now you see the whole world is open.

    HAGER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. DALEMBERT: You know, it's a lot changed.

    HAGER: The recreational center where Samuel had his first slam dunk is now a tent city, home to thousands of displaced Haitians. What do you think about going out here and watching these guys shoot?

    Mr. DALEMBERT: Oh, let's see if I still got it.

    HAGER: Samuel is always up for a pickup game with the children of his home country . They have become his motivation.

    Mr. DALEMBERT: Good game, man. No, I can see the kids are playing bare feet.

    HAGER: Mm-hmm.

    Mr. DALEMBERT: You know, it's nothing new for them. I mean, you know.

    HAGER: And these kids are probably playing hungry, too.

    Mr. DALEMBERT: Exactly. And they know to overcome their hunger, you know, you know, they come here and play, you know, and not think about it, have fun, you know. And so that's my vision, to be able to help.

    HAGER: The earthquake has left most schools destroyed, including his own elementary school . Was this what your book looked like?

    Mr. DALEMBERT: Yep , found it. Same old guy. Same thing.

    HAGER: But now many children here in Haiti no longer have the opportunities that Samuel had. So when you look at this building that -- the school that was your childhood, does it make you sad to see it damaged?

    Mr. DALEMBERT: It is, yeah.

    HAGER: Is it hard to see?

    Mr. DALEMBERT: Very sad. It is -- it is -- it is bad. I was just here like and I took picture here. Everything was normal, everything is, you know, great, and there was nothing wrong and


    HAGER: His goal is to shine a spotlight on the desperate situation in the place he calls home. You want the kids of Haiti that are growing up here now to have a different future?

    Mr. DALEMBERT: Yeah, definitely, because, you know, I think, you know, they always saying no matter where bad things happen, sometimes there's good come out of it. But I think this is the wake-up call.

    HAGER: The Samuel Dalembert Foundation is working with UNICEF to sponsor programs like Sports for Peace that help children cope with their loss and fears through sports.

    Ms. STEPHANE REBEU (Haitian Olympic Committee): It's very important for them because while they are playing, they are not thinking about their situation, you know. They lost their house, some of them lost their family.

    HAGER: Eleven-year-old Jerry comes to the program every day to participate in track and field.

    JERRY: After the earthquake, I was really afraid. I thought everyone would die.

    HAGER: Do the sports make it better?

    JERRY: Yes. I'm not afraid like I used to be.

    HAGER: Here, Samuel has the home court advantage .

    Mr. DALEMBERT: You lift them up and help them moving forward and maximize their skills and their talent. That's the main goal of my foundation.

    HAGER: And in the eyes of the children he helps, a hero, and a hope for Haiti to rebound, bounce back and rebuild better than before. We should mention that the Sports for Peace program received additional funding from the Hope for Haiti telethon that aired on many networks,

    including NBC. Meredith: And he's doing something so important.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. He's so terrific. And, you know, when we went there, he didn't even know that his old recreation center had become a tented city. So the shock through his eyes was really sad and beautiful to see.



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