Haiti’s camp population still falling, but great challenges remain
- Number of Haitians living in camps falls to 680,000
- Many of those fleeing camps going to precarious housing
- Evictions an increasing danger for vulnerable families
- Many earthquake victims still seeking durable solutions
18 March 2011
Port-au-Prince—Haitians who were made homeless by the 12 January 2010 earthquake are leaving the displacement camps in growing numbers. An important turning point has been achieved, with the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) remaining in sites now less than half of what it was at the peak of the crisis (1.5 million).
IOM Haiti, in support of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster estimates the camp population at 680,000 today, revealing a continuing downward trend continuing, albeit at a slightly slower pace than at the end of last year.
The reasons behind the continued departure from camps are multiple. They range from people moving into transitional shelters and durable houses, to rising evictions, insecurity, deteriorating sanitary conditions and declining services in camps according to a joint statement by the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations in Haiti.
“This latest information shows us the complexity of the situation facing displaced and returning Haitians,” noted UN Humanitarian Coordinator Nigel Fisher. “There is a clear need to more assertively resist forced evictions, gender-based violence and other security risks in camps and to ensure that better housing solutions are available to those leaving camps.”
“Overall the report confirms the need for concerted efforts to continue this downward trend while we seek durable and dignified livelihoods and housing solutions for the 680,000 IDPs still living in tents as well as for the communities of return,” said IOM’s Haiti Chief of Mission Luca Dall’oglio.
Along with the decrease in the camp population has come a corresponding decrease in the number of camps, with 1,061 sites remaining today from a high of 1,555 in July 2010.
Preliminary findings from a sample survey of 1,033 heads of households who have left IDP sites over the past months also indicate that about 50 per cent of them have moved from camp settings to precarious housing situations.
“Our report shows that those leaving the camps are adding to the already grave housing crisis,” said Mr Dall’oglio.
“As many as half move into tents near their former homes, others double up with friends and family or more disturbingly move into unsafe houses in need of repair.”
“At first sight, the substantial decrease in camp populations might seem to be good news. But the fact that some families have left camps under duress without housing solutions is a major concern,” said Mr Dall’oglio. “Because of evictions and other factors we are redoubling our efforts to deliver solutions.”
Most Camp Management Agencies and the Camp Management Officers have given notice that they are withdrawing from direct camp management between April and July 2010 mostly due to lack of funding. Pressure to deliver housing solutions for returning IDPs is growing as the “push factors” sending people from camps also increase.
IOM is working with the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission to help meet the growing demand for housing in well serviced healthy communities as the camps continue to empty. But resources are urgently needed in what has become a race against time to provide families with a smooth transition in the move from camps to communities.
for the full DTM report. It is also available at www.cccmhaiti.info
There are also video interviews in Creole
with earthquake victims who have returned to condemned homes at www.citizenhaiti.org