630,000 people still living in tents 18 months after the Haiti earthquake: Oxfam

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 12 Jul 2011

International aid agency Oxfam today warned that leadership from the new Haitian government with support from the international community is urgently needed to relocate the 630,000 people who are still living under tents and tarpaulins.

Recent reports confirm that more than 100 000 people – or one in five people currently living in camps – are under threat of being forcibly evicted from where they have sought shelter over the past 18 months.

Country Director for Oxfam in Haiti Roland Van Hauwermeiren said the Haitian people are facing this forced eviction from camps, as well as a hurricane season and the threat of cholera.

“Relocating the over 600,000 people still living in the camps was never going to be a quick fix. But the new government, once confirmed, must take key decisions on issues that are preventing people from leaving the camps,” Mr Van Hauwermeiren said.

“This includes settling legal issues over land tenure, creating jobs so that people can pay rent, and removing the rubble which remains on the streets.

“The Haitian government must protect those people who have been displaced by the earthquake from now having to face the second trauma of being forcibly evicted from the camps where they have been living.

“We all agree that the camps are neither a long-term nor a sustainable solution but people cannot be evicted from the camps without a fair alternative.

“The relocation plan must ensure that these people have access to basic services such as drinking water, sanitation services, health care, education and employment opportunities so that they can finally start to rebuild their lives.”

After the earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people whose houses had been damaged or destroyed sought refuge in the city’s open spaces, parks, car parks, churches and school courtyards. Most of these spaces are privately owned and now some owners want their land back.

President Michel Martelly has made some progress on this by developing plans to close six camps where approximately 25,000 people are living.

Eighteen months after the earthquake, Oxfam is providing access to water, latrines and showers to more than 100,000 people.

Oxfam is also supporting water committees in more than 30 sites in Port-au-Prince. These committees are formed by people living in the camps who take charge of the delivery of drinking water and the management of the latrines and showers.

Due to the new cholera outbreak in June 2011, Oxfam widened its cholera response program to reach an extra 77,000 people in one of the most affected zones and continues to monitor the situation in different parts of the capital and rural areas.

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795.