Haiti Mayor Says He Plans to Clear Huge Quake Camp

Posted on August 14, 2011


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Haiti Mayor Says He Plans to Clear Huge Quake Camp (Miami Herald)

12 August 2011 Comments: 0

By. Tren­ton Daniel, Asso­ci­ated Press

July 10, 2011– PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Thou­sands of Haitians liv­ing in one of the biggest tent camps cre­ated after last year’s earth­quake could soon have a new home: the moun­tains north of Port-au-Prince.

City offi­cials plan to relo­cate the almost 20,000 peo­ple liv­ing on the 42-acre (17-hectare) Champs de Mars plaza across the street from the crum­bled National Palace if the cen­tral gov­ern­ment approves, Port-au-Prince Mayor Jean Yves Jason said Wednesday.

Patrick Rouzier, a hous­ing and recon­struc­tion adviser for the gov­ern­ment, acknowl­edged the plan in a text mes­sage. He said Jason wants to move the fam­i­lies to Morne Cabrit, a moun­tain north of the cap­i­tal, and house them in tem­po­rary shelters.

The gov­ern­ment has reser­va­tions about the approach, Rouzier added, but he did not elab­o­rate. He said he was trav­el­ing with Pres­i­dent Michel Martelly.

Jason cited an “act of ban­ditry” in the pub­lic square as a rea­son for offi­cials want­ing to clear away the camp, which has become a shan­ty­town com­plete with bar­ber shops, bou­tiques and restau­rants and is a sym­bol of Haiti’s post-quake misery.

“We are going to respond next week,” Jason told The Asso­ci­ated Press.

About 20 stu­dents have been burn­ing tires at the plaza in recent days in a call for jus­tice after a fel­low stu­dent was shot and wounded dur­ing a rob­bery for his lap­top computer.

Jason said offi­cials are fig­ur­ing out a plan to com­pen­sate the camp res­i­dents but didn’t answer ques­tions ask­ing how much they would get.

The planned clo­sure comes as Hait­ian author­i­ties have been crit­i­cized for not doing enough to pro­vide hous­ing as they try to move the home­less out of pub­lic and pri­vate spaces.

Last week, about 60 to 80 demon­stra­tors shut down traf­fic on a busy thor­ough­fare to protest efforts to relo­cate them from a pri­vate lot. They said the $125 tat author­i­ties offered to fam­i­lies was insuf­fi­cient to secure housing.

Martelly said last month that he opposes forced removals.

More than 630,000 peo­ple still don’t have shel­ter 19 months after the Jan­u­ary 2010 quake, the Inter­na­tional Orga­ni­za­tion for Migra­tion says.

The relief group released a report last week say­ing that 94 per­cent of camp res­i­dents would leave if they had alter­na­tive hous­ing. Most of those sur­veyed said they wouldn’t be able to pay for rent or house repairs if they had to leave immediately.

The Martelly admin­is­tra­tion wants to close camps in six pub­lic places and move the res­i­dents into 16 rede­vel­oped neigh­bor­hoods, a project the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity sup­ports. The World Bank-run Hait­ian Recon­struc­tion Fund agreed last month to set aside $30 mil­lion for the project pend­ing the sub­mis­sion of a com­plete proposal.