Ten Thousand Displaced Families in Haiti Receive New Transitional Shelters

News and Press Release
Originally published

IOM's shelter programme has reached the significant landmark of providing accommodation for 10,000 earthquake-affected families made homeless by the January 2010 earthquake.

Some forty thousand people have now received better housing through this programme, which is part of the overall strategy of return being pursued by the humanitarian community.

"There has been a major effort to help families who lost their homes to leave the tents and makeshift structures behind and find decent and safer places to live on their own," said Luca Dall'Oglio, IOM Haiti chief of mission.

"Reaching this 10,000 landmark was part of a cumulative effort that saw more than 100,000 shelters built in Haiti by the international community, all in the face of multiple challenges such as land tenure and the huge quantity of debris which needed to be removed prior to construction," he added.

Shelter construction by IOM and numerous other international agencies has been complemented by a voluntary return strategy. Starting in badly affected areas like Léogane and Petit Goâve last summer, groups of families have being aided in their return to home communities almost every week.

Last week, IOM helped a further 120 families move to shelters in Corail outside the capital Port-au-Prince. In addition to those moved to shelters, tens of thousands of families have received relocation help from IOM and its partners.

Last Friday saw President Michel Martelly celebrate the return of one of Haiti's most celebrated public spaces - Place St Pierre in Pétion Ville - to public use in a project funded by USAID and guided by the Haitian government.

That project saw IOM assist with the departure of 527 families, helped by a rental assistance or temporary housing programme. Over the next three weeks, a further 673 families will depart from another public park, Place Boyer. This will not only provide almost 5,000 individuals with more dignified housing than a worn tent, but it will allow the residents of the congested city the chance to enjoy a safe public space.

The parks are being rehabilitated with trees and grass and will be lit by solar lights, enabling students to return to their long tradition of studying at night time in the parks.

The Place St Pierre and Place Boyer relocation forms part of a broader programme of return and rehabilitation known as "16/6" because it targets sixteen devastated neighbourhoods and six prominent camps.

The complexity of the ongoing crisis in Haiti where over 500,000 people remain homeless and the pressure of evictions is relentless means there is no one size fits all approach. Working with municipalities across the city, IOM and its partners try to ensure that solutions are found for the most urgent cases and that those pressing for eviction provide time for people to leave campsites in dignity by providing either a temporary shelter, a safer camp or help in renting accommodation.

IOM's shelter programme is funded by the governments of Japan, Canada, Sweden as well as the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). The shelters are designed to resist rain and hurricanes and have a life span of at least 3 years and probably much longer. While they do not provide a permanent solution, they buy time for the people to get their lives back on track.

In addition to shelter construction, devastated hillside communities in the capital are being reconstructed through rubble removal from residential plots and public roads, land stabilization through retaining walls to reduce landslide risk and erosion, footpaths rehabilitation and drainage canal construction.

IOM's assistance reached both urban and rural areas including remote mountain villages.

"We had never received any humanitarian assistance previously. I believe it is because we are so remote", said Samuel Joseph, a subsistence farmer in Aux-Cadets, who has received IOM shelter.

The IOM Haiti Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), prepared in support of the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) group, estimates the camp population for the entire country at approximately 550,560 at the end of September 2011.

For more information please contact Leonard Doyle at IOM Haiti, Tel: + 509 37025066; Email: Ldoyle@iom.int