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  HOME | Caribbean

34,000 Haitians Still Displaced 10 Years on from Quake

PORT-AU-PRINCE Ė There are at least 34,000 people living in displacement camps 10 years after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti.

The International Organization for Migration believes those internal refugees will remain permanently displaced.

Just shy of a decade since the temblor brought the island nation to its knees on Jan. 12, 2010, the head of the IOMís mission in Haiti, Giuseppe Loprete, told EFE about how the organization has intervened to help the population.

He also discussed the modern-day threats and political instability many Haitians face which shares a border with the crisis-hit country.

How many people are still displaced 10 years after the earthquake?

Soon it will be the 10 year anniversary of the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 on Jan. 12.

At the time there were 1.5 million displaced people in over 1,500 camps and displacement sites.

Now, we have about 22 displaced sites that are still open and 34,000 people still living in the situation of displacement, although we have to say that, after 10 years, for many of them this has become the normal situation.

They are not either willing or do not have the possibility to move out of the displacement site, some are even doing construction, trying to settle in these areas.

So, we have the feeling that those who are displaced right now will probably remain in this situation from now on.

What has the IOM done to help the population?

Over the last 10 years the IOM was involved in many activities.

It is actually the reduction that we estimated Ė 98-99 percent of people that were displaced are now back to their homes or back to alternative situations.

Many of them were able to do so because of IOM support. For example, we paid rent for one year for many families in different installments to give them the possibilities to repair and rebuild their homes.

We think it was a crucial role for thousands of people.

What are some of the more urgent problems?

The situation of families in the camps is a bit exacerbated or more serious but they share the same problems as the population right now in many areas of Port-au-Prince, in Haiti in general, but letís say Port-au-Prince for now.

There is no electricity for most of the day, access to waters if difficult, there are areas that you can see just walking around that are very overcrowded, overpopulated.

The crisis has left 3.7 million people with food insecurity, have you seen a boost in migration because of this?

Absolutely. Because of this situation in Haiti, a lot of people Ė at least one member of the family, mostly men between 18-35 years old Ė are looking for job opportunities, especially in Brazil but also in the Bahamas.

It is estimated that around 1.5-2 million Haitians are living abroad.

The population of Haiti is 10-10.5 million, so one-fifth of the population lives outside the country, mostly in Canada, the US, Brazil and Chile.

Do you expect to see an increase in migration?

Over the last year, we have been studying both the land border with the Dominican Republic and the sea border and we see an increase in these dynamics.

Itís something that we are very concerned about. It is the perfect environment for traffickers and smugglers to operate.

There are no services. People, out of desperation, want to find new opportunities, itís very easy to offer a boat for $500 or sometimes up to $2,000.


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