Tens of thousands of families stuck in Haiti camps – IOM

Source: alertnet // Anastasia Moloney

Haitians living in a camp for people displaced by the January 2010 earthquake look on after tents were vandalised in Port-au-Prince, Feb. 15, 2013. REUTERS/Swoan Parker

By Anastasia Moloney

BOGOTA (AlertNet) – More than three years after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, shortages of foreign aid and housing are hampering efforts to move homeless quake survivors out of camps in Port-au-Prince into better accommodation, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said.

Just over 320,000 Haitians who lost their homes in the January 2010 quake still live in makeshift camp settlements in flimsy tents and scrap-metal shacks, with limited access to clean water and sanitation, according to the IOM, a Geneva-based intergovernmental organisation.

While the number of Haitians in camps has fallen by nearly 80 percent from a July 2010 peak of 1.5 million, tens of thousands of camp dwellers with nowhere else to go face the risk of being evicted by landowners who want to reclaim their land.

This year, the Haitian government, the IOM and aid agencies plan to resettle nearly 14,450 families living in camps by giving them a one-off payment of around $650 – equal to a year’s rent and moving costs – if they can find a new, safe place to live.

So far, rental subsidies have allowed 32,134 households to leave the camps, the IOM says.

But, amid donor fatigue, the Haitian government and aid agencies do not have enough money to resettle all the remaining camp dwellers.

“Almost 67,000 households still have no prospect of moving out of the IDP (internally displaced people) sites,” the IOM said in a recent statement.

“Most of the 385 IDP sites that remain consist of precarious, makeshift structures that leave residents extremely vulnerable, particularly during the hurricane season,” it added.


Many displaced Haitians fear being thrown out of camp settlements built on private land.

Since July 2010, 16,104 households living in camps have been evicted, while around 75,000 Haitians living in 105 camps are “at risk of being evicted”, according to IOM’s latest report, issued in March.

Families still living in camps want to leave but many have no alternative accommodation. Most camp residents do not own land and few new permanent homes are being built in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

These people face deteriorating conditions and are often the most desperate – the elderly, the sick and those who cannot find work to pay rent or repair their quake-damaged homes.

Efforts to resettle quake survivors in new housing or rebuilt homes have been hampered by political uncertainty, poor coordination and a cholera epidemic, together with longstanding land tenure problems.


Author: `