In an effort to restore the lustre of Haiti's cultural capital, Jacmel, IOM and Sean Penn, Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti and founder of J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) are working on a project to re-house the last families made homeless in Jacmel by the 2010 earthquake.
The project aims to close the last two of 36 displacement camps established after the January 2010 earthquake and relocate families still living in them to safe homes. Each family will be provided with a year's rental allowance and receive additional financial support, which includes transport assistance to help move their belongings from the camps to their new housing.
The number of families in Jacmel's camps has fallen rapidly since the launch of the IOM - J/P HRO project at the end of May. A month ago IOM's June IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix recorded 2,891 people still housed in four camps in the historic port city. At the peak of the emergency, upwards of 10,000 people, or some 2,000 families, were homeless in the 36 camps.
The Haitian Government and local authorities in Jacmel anticipate immediate benefits from relocating the residents from camps."What is happening in Jacmel demonstrates our intention for the whole country. We're working to help every family, close every camp, and move on from the earthquake by giving our cultural capital a fresh start," said Harry Adam, Executive Director of Haiti's Government Housing Unit (UCLBP).
Displacement Tracking Matrix report, June 2012
J/P Haitian Relief Organization
"J/P HRO has collaborated with IOM since the earthquake," said J/P HRO founder and CEO Sean Penn. "When the Senators and Deputies of Jacmel said closing the last remaining camps was a priority need for their community and asked J/P HRO's assistance, we turned to IOM to help these families leave the mud floors and leaky tarps of the camps and find and secure housing quickly and effectively."
The relocation process began with IOM staff informing the camp residents about the project. Heads of households were provided with special ID cards (Last Mile Mobile Solutions - LMMS) developed by World Vision International, and all beneficiaries' information and relocation intentions were registered through J/P HRO's high-tech iPod based system, designed to streamline future relocation projects and reduce operating costs.
The relocation process is scheduled to continue through July, with monitoring visits to follow in August and September, after which all remaining families will have been re-housed. Camps in Jacmel will then close, thereby ending the plight of earthquake affected people in Haiti's South East Department.
Jacmel, a city of over 41,000, is slowly rebuilding, but the homelessness and suffering of those in the camps have blighted efforts to get the city's important tourism sector revitalized. Because many of the displaced have been living on Jacmel's two football fields, sports have also been impacted.
"Large historical areas of Jacmel were virtually demolished by the quake," said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission, Luca Dall'Oglio. "Helping to get it back to its feet as a thriving cultural centre is one of our objectives in helping the homeless to find alternatives to the camps."
The government of Haiti is investing USD 20 million to make the city more accessible and to improve its infrastructure in order to turn Jacmel into one of the pre-eminent tourist destinations in the country.
Jacmel is best known for its handcrafts, its extraordinary carnival tradition, and its historical architecture, including its famed gingerbread houses. As part of the government's revitalization plan, the historic centre of the city will get a long awaited makeover, with repairs made to the damaged resorts, shops and impressive arts-teaching centre in the heart of town. In addition, the local airport is expected to reopen soon.
Two hours by car over the mountains from the capital, Port-au-Prince, Jacmel has a rich colonial history. Despite the poverty and economic collapse, the atmosphere of the old town has changed little since the late 19th century when wealthy coffee merchants lived in gracious mansions which influenced the architecture of New Orleans. Jacmel has been tentatively accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Founded by Sean Penn, J/P HRO began its work hours after the earthquake hit in January 2010 with the goal of helping to lift the nation of Haiti out of the rubble and give the Haitian people a better future. To learn more go to: www.jphro.org.
Detailed information about displacement in Haiti can be downloaded from IOM's June Displacement Tracking Matrix report at:
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