Eviction pits Haiti police against protestors

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Clashes broke out in Haiti Monday between police and protestors against government plans to evict them from homes precariously perched on the hills above the capital Port-au-Prince.

At least one person was wounded when groups of young people from the hill-based neighborhoods erected flaming barricades and brawled with police, who used teargas to disperse the crowd.

Targeted by the eviction are nearly 400 families, living in small dwellings the government has determined to be unsafe. Their homes cover a large part of the dreary Haitian hill town of Jalousie, near a ravine and situated above the Haitian capital.

"We can't allow people to endanger their lives in slums that can collapse at any moment," Haitian minister charged with human rights and the battle against poverty, Rose-Anne Auguste, told AFP.

But one protestor, who asked not to be identified, said: "These decisions are always made against the most poor. The rich have huge homes that aren't affected. They want to chase us away, but where to?"

"We realize there is a dire problem posed by housing in our country. We are going to offer new homes to the displaced families," Auguste said, noting that the government has banned these new constructions.

Since the earthquake of January 2010 that ravaged the Haitian capital, hundreds of thousands of people -- 400,000, according to the International Organization for Migration -- had continued to live in tents.

The government recently launched a program promoting the return of earthquake victims to their original neighborhoods, with a subsidy of around $500.