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Haiti: Almost 360,000 Remain in Tent Camps, According to United Nations

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - December 24, 2012

Above: a tent camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (FP/UN Photo/Logan Abassi)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Almost 360,000 people in Haiti are still living in tent camps, displaced due to the 2010 earthquake, according to a new report from the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration.

Registration analysis by the IOM International Displaced Persons shows 360,000 people living in 496 sites across Haiti, and 84 percent of the population living in camps was already there in 2010. That figure “confirms that, most probably, they have been living at these sites since the January 2010 earthquake,” the IOM said in a statement.

The 360,000 figure is roughly in line with estimates by Haiti’s government (which estimated between 300 and 350,000).

Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told Caribbean Journal earlier this month that the government’s plan was to have all those living in camps removed within 18 months.

According to the data, approximately 58 percent remain unemployed, a number the IOM called “staggering,” although Haiti’s national unemployment rate is closer to 75 percent, according to the most recent government estimates.

The majority (57 percent) of those living in camps are single-headed (34 percent and 23 percent.)

“This, coupled with the fact that more than half of the adult camp residents are currently unemployed, stresses the need for continued assistance and support to ensure the end of the displacement crisis in Haiti,” the IOM Said.

Further, 86 percent of those living in camps do not own a home, and will need to rent a property to leave the camps, according to the report, which also found that 158,833 earthquake-affected refugees have received support from the international community to find housing. Another 90,000 remain in camps that have not yet received help from return programmes.

“Some 96 per cent of beneficiaries who have received subsidies have said that rental support programmes should be made available to all families still living in camps,” said Giovanni Cassani, the IOM Emergency Shelter Cluster Coordinator in Haiti.

The agency said it had provided “alternative housing solutions” to almost 12,000 families through one-year rental subsidies, with 95 percent of those beneficiaries “either very satisfied or satisfied about their new housing conditions.”

But since mid-2011, the majority of organizations providing essential services in camps were “forced to leave,” according to the IOM.

“The international community must not abandon Haiti now,” said Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Chief of Mission in Haiti. “A concerted effort is needed to ensure that at least 20,000 families still living in camps will move into safe homes in 2013 and that basic services are provided to those families remaining in camps.”

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