PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The number of Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake has dropped 14 per cent since February and now numbers about 421,000, a humanitarian group in the Caribbean nation said yesterday.
The International Organisation for Migration said in a statement that the drop marks the steepest decline in the camp population since early last year. Some 73 per cent of the original population has now left the gloomy camps that sprang up after the January 2010 earthquake, when an estimated 1.5 million people lost their homes, IOM said.
IOM also said that 58 camps closed between February and April, bringing the number of camps down to 602 from 660 in February 2012 and 1,555 in July 2010.
The decline can be attributed in part to a rental subsidy programme that awarded families in the camps $500 to find housing elsewhere. Many families in the settlements lost their livelihoods in the disaster and were too poor to afford lodging.
IOM also attributed the drop to a government program that cleared out six highly visible camps in Haiti’s capital and relocated them to their original neighbourhoods, also using rental subsidies. The project covered about five per cent of the camp population.
Haitian officials and the Canadian government are also helping move people from Champ de Mars, a public square across the street from the crumbled National Palace that became a visible symbol of the quake’s devastation. They hope to finish clearing out the plaza this summer.
Other displaced people have left the settlements because they were evicted by police or land owners seeking to reclaim their property.