Haiti - Four years after the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, an estimated 146,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), or 39,000 households, remain in 271 camps scattered throughout metropolitan Port-au-Prince and the regions.
Since the height of the displacement crisis, when 1.5 million persons lived in makeshift camps, the IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has registered a decrease of 89 per cent in the total number of households and an 83 per cent decrease in the number of sites.
“This 89 per cent decrease is encouraging and is largely due to the resilience of the Haitian people, along with the tireless efforts of the Government of Haiti supported by the international community,” said Grégoire Goodstein, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Haiti.
Since the earthquake, IOM and its partners have provided tailored support to IDPs to help them to leave the camps and resume a normal life. One of the solutions provided is the rental subsidy approach, an initiative that was first promoted by the Government of Haiti in 2011. Since June 2011, this has resulted in the successful relocation of approximately 60,000 households and the closure of 311 IDP sites.
During the period of October to December 2013 alone, programmes offering rental subsidies were responsible for the relocation of 3,532 households and the closure of 38 sites, thereby contributing to a 98 per cent reduction in internally displaced households in that period.
Accurate data has been key. Harry Adam, Executive Director of the Government Reconstruction Unit (UCLBP) said that the success of the assistance is largely due to the accuracy of the data provided by IOM Haiti. “For the government, only IOM has the real data and without IOM we would not have been able to place those people into better, safer housing,” he said.
The determination of the Haitian people, and in particular the IDPs who lost everything in the earthquake, is what ultimately resulted in such a massive decrease in the displaced population.
In 2010 and 2011 most IDPs left the camps spontaneously, with very little assistance. But as time goes by there are few such returns as those remaining in the camps are amongst the most vulnerable populations in the country, with very little means to find solutions on their own. This population needs to be helped to access a housing solution that guarantees their safe and dignified return.
“More than 200 camps remain open and people continue to live in deplorable conditions. While we acknowledge that there have been many efforts to rebuild houses, the shortage remains very tangible and more needs to be done to sort out the land tenure issue so that we know where and for whom houses can be built in the Port-au-Prince area,” says Goodstein.
To respond to this shortage, IOM is carrying out long-term development projects, including in the housing reconstruction sector. The IOM housing programme, in addition to building new homes for returning IDP families, also includes community infrastructure development and sanitation rehabilitation to improve the living conditions in return communities.
“As of December 2013, nine houses were completed and 18 earthquake-affected families assisted, while 69 houses were under construction. An additional 36 houses will be constructed on public land in Delmas 18,” says Valeria Falaschi, an IOM Housing Project Officer.
Addressing the complexity of living conditions in IDP camps remains a challenge. Gender-based violence; health issues, including cholera; evictions; and limited access to basic services are still a daily reality for nearly 146,000 internally displaced Haitians. Humanitarian actors need to continue to assist IDPs remaining in camps while scaling up return operations.
“I am optimistic that these camps can be closed, but Haiti needs the support of the international community to help the displaced. This can be done by mid-2015 if the conditions are right, including making the financial resources available,” concludes Goodstein.
The IOM DTM report, maps and other information is available at: www.iomhaitidataportal.info
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