Haiti

Earthquake victims in Haiti’s homeless camps continue decline

 

Jcharles@MiamiHerald.com

Three years after Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, there are 320,050 people living in camps — 27, 230 less than those living in the squalid encampments in December, the International Organization for Migration said Monday.

The number represents a 79 percent drop from the 1.5 million Haitians who sought shelters in hundreds of makeshift tent cities after the disaster.

The latest census was taken between January and March. IOM said about 60 percent of those who left the camps did so after enrolling in the government’s rental subsidy program that provides up to a year’s rent to camp dwellers. The largest drops occurred in the cities of Delmas, followed by Port-au-Prince then Petionville.

While acknowledging that the progress is significant, the United Nations humanitarian community said it remains concerned about forced evictions. As of March, six percent of the families who had moved out of camps had done so by force.

Last month, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Haiti visited several camps targeted for forced evictions and later expressed grave concerns to Haitian government officials.

“These families have suffered intimidation, physical violence and the destruction of their shelters, including through arson,” coordinator Ross Mountain said in a press release. Mountain also said crimes were being committed against camp dwellers during the evictions, a violation of Haitians’ human rights.

Haiti government officials said they were committed to protecting human rights and that they did not condone forced evictions off private property.

The humanitarian community estimates that since July 2010, more than 66,000 camp dwellers have been victims of forced evictions.

While touting the drop in camp residents Monday, IOM also made an appeal to international donors for continued funding.

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