By Anastasia Moloney
BOGOTA (AlertNet) - Efforts are underway to move the last homeless quake survivors from camps in the Haitian city of Jacmel into rented accommodation over the next three months, marking the closure of all the city’s camps, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said.
A month ago, 2,891 Haitians were still living in the last four of 36 makeshift camps set up in the southern port city of Jacmel following the devastating earthquake that hit the Caribbean nation in January 2010, according to the latest IOM figures.
It is hoped that relocating the displaced families will help relaunch the city’s ailing tourism industry and arts and crafts sector, which are important sources of income for many of its 41,000 residents.
"Large historical areas of Jacmel were virtually demolished by the quake," Luca Dall'Oglio, IOM’s chief of mission in Haiti, said in a statement this week.
"Helping to get it back to its feet as a thriving cultural centre is one of our objectives in helping the homeless to find alternatives to the camps."
Each family will be given a year's rent subsidy and extra financial and transport assistance to help them move their belongings from the camps into housing, the IOM said.
Elsewhere in Haiti, there are still 390,000 people living in 575 makeshift camps and settlements, about a quarter of the total displaced by the earthquake, according to latest figures from the Geneva-based intergovernmental organisation.
Many of the remaining camps are dotted in and around the capital Port-au-Prince. Here many Haitians struggle to survive in flimsy tents and shacks made from bed sheets, tarpaulin and scrap metal, with limited access to clean water and sanitation.
Poor hygiene means Haiti’s homeless face a renewed threat of cholera as the hurricane season gets underway, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) recently warned.
So far, a cholera epidemic has claimed more than 7,000 lives and infected over half a million Haitians since it began in October 2010.
Since the earthquake, 14,000 families have received a $500 subsidy to cover rent payments for up to a year, encouraging them to leave the camps, according to the IOM. In addition, around 13,000 families have received assistance to repair their damaged homes.
But the Haitian government and international aid community have been criticised for the slow pace of resettlement, thousands of forced evictions and high levels of sexual violence in the camps.
Families living in camps want to leave but many have nowhere to go. Most camp residents do not own any land and few new permanent homes are being built in Port-au-Prince.
Efforts to resettle homeless Haitians in new housing or repaired homes have been hampered by political uncertainty, weak coordination and the cholera epidemic, along with longstanding land tenure problems.
A shortfall in funding for activities to improve access to healthcare, clean water and sanitation is also a concern. According to the U.N. humanitarian agency (OCHA), the 2012 appeal for Haiti is the least funded in the world - so far only 19 per cent of the $230 million requested has been received.