Haiti's camp population still falling, but great challenges remain

Haitians who were made left homeless by the January 12, 2010 earthquake are leaving the displacement camps in growing numbers. An important turning point has been achieved with the number of IDPs remaining in sites now less than half of what it was at the peak of the crisis (1.5 million).

IOM, in support of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) cluster in Haiti estimates the camp population at 680,000 today, revealing a continuing downward trend, albeit at a slightly slower pace than at the end of last year.

The reasons behind the continued departure from camps are multiple. They range from people moving into transitional shelters and durable houses, to rising evictions, insecurity, deteriorating sanitary conditions and declining services in camps according to a joint statement by the IOM and the United Nations in Haiti.

"Overall the report confirms the need for concerted efforts to continue this downward trend while we seek durable and dignified livelihoods and housing solutions for the 680,000 IDPs still living in tents as well as for the communities of return," said IOM's Haiti Chief of Mission Luca Dall'oglio.

Along with the decrease in the camp population has come a corresponding decrease in the number of camps, with 1061 sites remaining today from a high of 1555 in July 2010.

Preliminary findings, however, also indicate that some 50 per cent of former camp residents leave camp settings for precarious housing situations.

"Our report shows that those leaving the camps are adding to the already grave housing crisis," said Dall'oglio. "As many as half move into tents near their former homes, others double up with friends and family or more disturbingly move into unsafe houses. At first sight, the substantial decrease in camp populations might seem to be good news. But the fact that some families have left camps under duress without housing solutions is a major concern. As a result we are redoubling our efforts to deliver solutions."

Most Camp Management Agencies and the Camp Management Officers have given notice that they are withdrawing from direct camp management between April and July 2011, largely due to lack of funding. Pressure to deliver housing solutions for returning IDPs is growing as the push factors sending people from camps also increases.

IOM is working with the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (IHRC) to help meet the growing demand for housing in well serviced healthy communities as the camps continue to empty. But resources are urgently needed in what has become a race against time to provide families with a smooth transition in the move from camps to communities.

The full DTM report is available at www.cccmhaiti.Info and www.iomhaiti.com

There are also video interviews in creole with earthquake victims who have returned to condemned homes at www.citizenhaiti.org

For more information contact Leonard Doyle IOM Haiti Tel: + 509 3702 5066 Email: ldoyle@iom.int