Haiti: United Nations Migration Official Urges Progress on Tent Camps

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - August 29, 2012

Above: a UN peacekeeper provides medical help after Tropical Storm Isaac (MINUSTAH Photo/Victoria Hazou)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Thousands of people were supported by Haiti’s Civil Protection office during Tropical Storm Isaac, and many of the vulnerable people in Haiti’s tent camps were evacuated before the storm hit.

But while Haiti’s preventive and relief efforts were largely successful, the storm underscored the need to close the 575 earthquake refugee camps still open in the country.

“The camps were lucky this time and avoided the worst,” said Luca Dall’Oglio, the head of the International Organization for Migration’s mission in Haiti, in a statement. “But they will not always be so lucky, and the international community must act now to close all camps by providing subsidies for rent and housing solutions for people who live there.”

Dall’Oglio said the “financial and social costs engendered by the evacuation of a camp for every major storm can far exceed the costs of implementing such solutions for rental housing.”

He said Haiti’s “well-coordinated response” showed a “new level of preparedness from authorities.”

“Months of preparation were required from Haiti and its international partners to build the resilience of the civil protection system,” he said.

But that simply reinforces the need to make progress on the tent camps, he said.

“Although civil protection preparedness and will continue to be an important priority for Haiti, we will fail in our humanitarian work if we do not urgently bring the necessary resources to quickly close the camps,” he said. “We now need to target as many of the 575 camps still open as possible, especially those in which people live in dangerous conditions and are exposed to conditions that may cause damage.”

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