UN Changes Plans, Will Only Relocate 9,000 Before Rains

April 02, 2010

AFP reports today that the UN has abruptly changed plans on the relocation of hundreds of thousands of Haitians before the rainy season. The new plan, based on recent surveys, will relocate just 9,000 who are the most at risk. AFP reports:

Until recently, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had been saying that 218,000 people living in so-called red sites around the capital Port-au-Prince would have to move.

But OCHA’s deputy head of mission Sarah Muscroft told AFP that surveys carried out two weeks ago had shown that actually only 37,200 people were at imminent risk from landslides or surface run-off.

“If engineering works can be done, that number can be reduced down to 9,000 who will simply have to move before the rains come,” she said.

Since many Haitians are wary of moving farther away from employment opportunities, the relocation plan involves an incentive; three months food supply, a hygiene kit, a tarp, and one months salary on a cash-for-work basis.

The AFP article also notes that one reason why there has not been a significant relocation already is because the Haitian government has been lobbying the international community to buy the needed lands for the new camps. AFP, describing what Muscroft had told them, categorized the request as “unrealistic”. However, given the giant budget shortfalls the Haitian government is facing (they are requesting an urgent $350 million in direct budget support), it is unlikely that they would be able to purchase large private lots of land without the international community.

For some videos showing the conditions in the current IDP camps, click here, here, or here.

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