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

More than 7 years later, 3% of the population displaced by the 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.

Seven years after the terrible earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, the efforts of the Haitian Government and the international community helped to relocate 301,142 displaced persons (89,739 households)[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 riding her bike and many others.

Today, a very last effort could put an end to displacement through the relocation or integration of the remaining camps in the neighborhoods 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 the MODSOL Block 4, which is the most vulnerable of the camp as it is prone to heavy flooding’’, begins Aris. We follow him through the tents, the plastic and metal sheets; and we arrive into the house of Annie, 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 granchildren and Roselyne’s three children. "Soon we will be one more," says Roselyne caressing her round belly.

Expecting that life changes…

Fred CMO agent at IOM in Haiti with Annie and RoselyneAnnie 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 of the 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 7 years now. "We sometimes go to the market and make a little money but we live mostly from donation," confirms Annie

A block away, plastic sheets, torn tents, pieces of wood and metal make way to "solid" structures. Here we are at the block of MODSOL 3. Our guide, Aris knocks on a door above which is a sign saying " La bénédiction de l’éternel, Ciné’’ (Blessing of the eternal, Cinema)

Joselin, 35 years old, opens and lets us in. The camp has a cinema which is made of concrete benches with yellowed film posters on the wall, a television and a dvd player at the front of the room. For 5o Htg- less than US$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'," he states.

"I would like to see Merlin," a small voice rises, "It's my favorite movie." Chin and elbows on the concrete bench, Josy, 5 years old, patiently waits for his father to insert The Sword in the Stone’s dvd.

Sustainable solutions are lacking

We go back into the muddy alleys of the camp. Haiti is experiencing a new cyclone season. The mud makes our passage difficult in some places. A few meters further, we enter MODSOL 2.

Lovedaica welcomes us at the neighborhood 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 2 and 1 neighborhoods are made up of small wooden cottages, temporary shelters called '' T-Shelter '' which were built to accommodate the displaced for 3 years. However, due to the lack of sustainable solutions, people still live in these temporary structures. 51.9% of the remaining open camps have a majority of 'T-Shelter'. Once again we meet Lovedaica in the block of MODOSL 1, where she stops for a moment at the ice cream vendor. The older gentleman is selling a lot of ice creams on that warm July day. Business is good today!

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 received any vocational training. They stay 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, or becoming a nurse, a nursing assistant or a midwife if they want to.”

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

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

The IOM teams regularly monitor the humanitarian situation in the camps. IOM provides 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 displaced (9,347 households) by the 2010 earthquake live in 27 sites[3]. 97% of the population initially displaced by the earthquake has 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 the contribution from the Government of Canada.

More than 7 years later, a final complementary effort could end the displacement through the relocation or integration of the remaining camps in their neighborhoods of origin.