HAITI to Relocate 400,000 Homeless Outside Capital

Posted on January 21, 2010

Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

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Haiti to relocate 400,000 homeless outside capital


Haiti is planning to house 400,000 earthquake survivors in new tented villages outside the capital, Port-au-Prince, officials have announced.

Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said 100,000 people would initially be sent to 10 settlements near the suburb of Croix Des Bouquets.

He gave no timeframe, but said the moves would start as soon as possible.

An estimated 1.5 million people were left homeless by the 7.0-magnitude quake, which killed as many as 200,000.

At least 75,000 bodies have so far been buried in mass graves, the government has said. Many more remain uncollected in the streets.

Improvised shelters

On Thursday, Mr Bien-Aime said public buses had already been sent out to take survivors in Port-au-Prince to the south and north of the country, where tented settlements able to accommodate 10,000 people each would eventually be built.

Tents will not work in May when the long rainy season begins and later when hurricane season starts, but at this point there is not much choice Vincent Houver, International Organisation for MigrationHaitians’ despair deepens

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“The government has made available to people free transportation. A large operation is taking place,” he told reporters.

At least 500,000 people are currently living outdoors in 447 improvised camps in Port-au-Prince, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Of the 350 settlements assessed by the IOM, its partners and the Haitian government, only 179 had improvised shelter material and tents, and only three had access to potable water, the IOM said.

The Geneva-based UN body said it was distributing tents, blankets and plastic sheeting provided by the US, Japan and Turkey, but warned that more permanent shelter would soon be needed.

“Tents will not work in May when the long rainy season begins and later when hurricane season starts, but at this point there is not much choice,” said IOM Chief of Mission Vincent Houver.

“Assessments must take place and best construction methods and durable materials need to be discussed,” he added.

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In a bid to deliver greater quantities of aid, the US military is now operating at four airports in the area – Port-au-Prince and Jacmel in Haiti, and San Isidro and Barahona in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.