IOM Director General, Ambassador William Lacy Swing, arrives in Haiti today for a three-day official visit during which he will meet with high-level Government officials, donors, partners and Haitians who have contributed to and benefited from IOM initiatives.
Ambassador Swing will also join European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Ms. Kristalina Georgieva on a visit to two former camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), where Haitians who lost their homes to the January 2010 earthquake found shelter. IOM, with European Commission funding, has assisted and relocated the camps’ inhabitants to the communities and neighbourhoods where they lived before the earthquake.
One of the camps is in Champs de Mars, a public park and space in the heart of Port-au-Prince, which has now been renovated and given back to the Haitian public. The other camp, a school in the Commune of Tabarre, is earmarked to be renovated now that the displaced population who lived there for nearly three years has recently been assisted by IOM to return to their neighbourhoods.
As part of various return programmes introduced in 2011 by the Haitian Government and the Office for the Construction of Accommodation and Public Buildings (UCLBP by its French acronym), some 158,833 families, or 635,332 individuals, have been assisted with relocation to the communities where they lived before the earthquake.
"The ECHO contribution will help secure the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens living in camps and exposed to climatic and sanitary risks," said Clement Belizaire, Director of Relocation and Rehabilitation of Precarious Neighbourhoods at the UCLBP.
“IOM’s partnership with the Government of Haiti has been excellent, and this is reflected in the good results achieved so far. But we must not forget that a lot remains to be done to accompany the Haitian Government and its people to provide durable housing solutions to the remaining 350,000 displaced persons still in camps,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing.
During their visit, Commissioner Georgieva and Ambassador Swing will formally announce the extension of the return assistance programme implemented by IOM Haiti in 2012, which will see an increase in funding from the European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).
“The ECHO funded programme started in August 2012 and has now been extended till mid December 2013. The funds received so far have allowed IOM to carry out the accompanied relocation of 1,560 families or nearly 6,240 individuals from camps located on school premises or considered high-risk due to protection and environmental issues. The new donation will allow the relocation of an additional 6,000 families, or 24,000 individuals, from the most environmentally-at-risk camps identified after the passage of Hurricane Isaac,” explained Francois Desruisseaux, IOM Camp Coordination and Camp Management Programme Manager.
"I am greatly encouraged by the progress that is being made to give the people of Haiti a viable and sustainable future. Although 350,000 people still live in temporary shelters, we have provided more than 500,000 with housing. This work will continue, along with our efforts to treat cholera and other needs and to make Haitians more resilient to future disasters," said European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.
Amongst the many vital emergency and post-emergency tools utilized by IOM and its partners since 2010, the IOM Data Management Unit (DMU) has played a vital role through its bi-monthly registration exercises of the entire IDP camp population.
The DMU has tracked and monitored many forms of humanitarian assistance over the past three years, including the various housing solutions provided to 23,588 displaced families or 94,352 individuals (11,746 families have received rental subsidies and 11,842 a transitional or permanent shelter), and the 47 million non-food items (tents, plastic sheets, kitchen and hygiene kits, cholera prevention items, etc.) distributed to vulnerable – earthquake, hurricane and cholera affected – IDPs.
Given the large residual camp population and the continued need to improve the international community’s response to IDPs, a portion of the new funds received from ECHO will also be allocated to supporting the DMU.
“IOM is committed to working with Government agencies and other partners in the difficult task of providing durable solutions to the remaining 350,000 persons still displaced, as well as to the returnees. We are grateful for this new funding from ECHO and hope that this will create a momentum in renewed funding for humanitarian and transition activities which remain critical today. These resources will not only help finance rental subsidies or income-generating projects in return areas, but they also contribute to intangibles, such new-found hope, dignity and security once removed from the camp environment – that’s immeasurable,” said Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Haiti Chief of Mission.
The IOM Haiti Mission was established in 1994 with programmes ranging from participatory community development and stabilization, to governance, border management, and counter-trafficking. In response to the devastating effects of the earthquake that hit Haiti on 12 January 2010, IOM Haiti has included in its list of programmes large-scale emergency operations. IOM Haiti has its main office in the capital Port-au-Prince and field offices in the cities of Gonaives, Jacmel, Leogane and Cap-Haitian.
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