Humanitarian aid : 7 years after the 2010 earthquake, who remains displaced?

More than seven years later, three per cent of the population displaced by the 2010 earthquake still lives in camps. Meet these men, women and children at the MODSOL camp in Léogane located on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

 Aris Wilner, vice president of the MODSOL camp management committee Seven years after the terrible earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, the efforts of the Haitian Government and the international community helped 301,142 displaced persons (89,739 households) relocate.1] 

Among the 37,867 persons[2] that still live in the 27 open sites, there is Annie and Roselyne, Joselin and his son Josy, Lovedaica, who loves riding her bike, and many others.

Today, a very last effort could put an end to their displacement through the relocation or integration of the remaining displaced persons to their neighbourhood of origin.

The camp visit begins with the broad smile of Aris Wilner, nicknamed "Amos", who is vice president of the management committee of MODSOL (Movement of Organizations for the Development of Santo Léogane). He leads us into the alleys of the camp where 458 households (1,776 people) live. The camp is divided into four "blocks".

"We start with MODSOL Block four, which is the most vulnerable of the camp, as it is prone to heavy flooding’’, Aris adds. We follow him through the tents, the plastic and metal sheets, and we arrive to Annie’s house, 65 years old, and Roselyne, 25 years old. They are not related, but they live together under a structure made of metal sheets and wood with Annie's three grandchildren, and Roselyne’s three children. "Soon we will be one more," says Roselyne, while caressing her round belly.

Expecting that life changes…

Fred CMO agent at IOM in Haiti with Annie and Roselyne

Annie and Roselyne spend their days doing housework, cooking, washing dishes, going to church, and waiting. They are waiting for gifts from "friends". Waiting for the Pastor to pay the registration fees for the children's school." The pastor pays for three out of the six children who live under this roof. They are lucky to go to school," says Roselyne.

They expect their life to change. They are waiting for an opportunity to rise, to have a qualification, to find a job, or to start a business. They have been waiting for seven years now. "We sometimes go to the market and make a little money but we live mostly from donations," confirms Annie.

A block away, plastic sheets, torn tents, pieces of wood and metal make way for "solid" structures. Here we are in the third block of the camp. Our guide, Aris, knocks on a door with a sign saying "La bénédiction de l’éternel, Ciné’’ (Blessing of the Eternal Cinema).

 

 

Some evenings, Joselin welcomes more than 80 people to watch movies, games or series. Josy 5 years old

 

 

Joselin, 35 years Joselin, owner of the camp’s cinema.old, opensthe door and welcomes us in. The cinema room has concrete benches and a yellowed film posters on the wall, a television, and a DVD player at the front of the room. For 50 Htg, less than USD 1 per person, the owner of the cinema diffuses football games, series and movies. "It is the football games that are the most popular. The room can hold up to 80 people, sometimes more. Yesterday we broadcasted the series 'Legend of the Seeker'," Joselin mentions.

"I would like to see Merlin," a small voice rises, "It's my favorite movie." Chin and elbows on the concrete bench, Josy, five years old, patiently waits for his father to insert The Sword in the Stone’s DVD.

 

Sustainable solutions are lacking

 

We go back through the muddy alleys of the camp. Haiti is experiencing a new cyclone season, and the mud makes our passage difficult in some places. A few meters further, we enter the second block.

Lovedaica welcomes us at the neighbourhood borderline. At 11 years old, she is in fourth grade and experiences a slight academic delay. She enjoys riding her bike during the summer vacation. She bikes a few meters by our side to chat with us but quickly speeds away and disappears. The MODSOL two and one neighbourhoods are made up of small wooden cottages and temporary shelters called ''T-Shelter'', which were built to accommodate displaced people for three years. However, due to the lack of sustainable solutions, people still live in these temporary structures. Over 50 per cent of the remaining open camps consist of “T-Shelters”. Once again, we meet Lovedaica in the first block, where she stops for a moment at the ice cream vendor. The vendor is an older gentleman who is selling a lot of ice creams on this warm July day. “Business is good today!”, he says.

 

"I would like to receive microcredit and benefit from training so that my business can thrive."

For the ice cream seller, the business is doing well on that hot summer day.

Not far away from us, the president of the camp management committee is waiting for us. "Some people have a business, they sell little things like beans, rice or oil. Some men work in the fields or in the construction sector,” he says. “But the majority of people who live here are not employed. Due to poverty, most of the women did not attend school or receive any vocational training. They stay at home with the children. We are planning to open a vocational school for women and girls. There, they would be able to learn sewing, floral art, become a nurse, a nursing assistant or a midwife if they want to.”

Having an income-generating activity is a hope shared by many residents of the MODSOL camp. "I have a small business, but I would like to receive a microcredit and benefit from training so that my business can thrive," explains Jocelyne.

 

In this camp, as in any other remaining camps where there is no relocation/formalization project in progress, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is the only organization present.  

In this camp, as in any other camp there is no relocation / formalization project in progress, IOM is the only organization present. Regular monitoring of IOM teams provides last resort solutions to the most urgent cases.

IOM teams regularly monitor the humanitarian situation in the camps, and provide last resort assistance to the most urgent cases pending the implementation of sustainable solutions for displaced populations in line with the Government's strategy.

A total of 37,867 individuals displaced (9,347 households) by the 2010 earthquake live in 27 sites[3]. 97 per cent of the population initially displaced by the earthquake have left the camps

Since 2010, 1,528 sites have closed and more than 1.5 million people have returned or have been relocated with the support of several international donors. Currently, IOM is involved in relocation activities in the Metropolitan area, thanks to contributions from the Government of Canada.

More than seven years later, a final complementary effort could end the displacement through the relocation or integration of the remaining displaced persons to their neighbourhood of origin. At present, IOM is discussing with local and national authorities on the possibility to relocate a part of the IDP’s at the MODSOL camp.

Julie Harlet IOM Haiti

Photos © IOM/JulieHarlet2017

 

 

[1] IOM Haiti, DTM Report, June 2017, Table 3: Households, individuals, and sites status (open or closed) from July 2010 to June 2017, p.7 http://haiti.iom.int/sites/default/files/documents_files/2017-07-14%20-%20IOM%20Haiti%20-%20DTM%20Report%20-%20June%202017.pdf 

[2] IDEM

[3] IDEM