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The Children's Villages in Santo, near Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien are home to children from Haiti who face some of the poorest conditions in the world. SOS Children's Villages has been working here since 1982 and has also provided aid during natural disasters occurring in Haiti … more about our charity work in Haiti

Helping over 800,000 people living in the camps of Haiti

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), an inter-governmental agency dealing with issues of migration and the displaced, conducted a countrywide assessment of the camps in Haiti between November and January 2011.

The survey was carried out to help in the IOM’s work of leading and co-ordinating the camp management. Following the three-month assessment, IOM reports there are 810,000 Haitians still living in the temporary campsites across the country.

The IOM believes Haitians could be moving from the camps at a rate of around 100,000 people per month. The largest movement is being witnessed in the south of the country, where there are more housing options in the rural and semi-urban regions. However, despite the significant drop in the camp population, the country still faces a huge task in finding proper habitation for the homeless. Even for the estimated 200,000 who have left the camps, the organisation believes many will have gone to temporary shelters or moved in with other families. With the stark lack of proper housing, particularly in the cities and capital, the IOM believes that as well as speeding up repair and rebuilding, constructing transitional homes which last 1-5 years may be an essential short-term option. It has already built over 8,000 such temporary homes for the displaced and plans to complete another 3,000.

In the meanwhile, the IOM continues to monitor the camp settlements in partnership  with other humanitarian agencies. It is appealing for 93 million US dollars to continue with the work in helping the homeless. For example, the fight against the cholera epidemic continues in Haiti, particularly in the high risk camp areas. Here, better water and sanitation facilities are being provided, supplies like soap and aquatabs are distributed and fresh campaigns are sponsored to keep awareness of the disease high and how to protect against it.

One such campaign is being run with Haiti’s Fame Academy and its Tchaka Dance company. The dancers lost their studio in the earthquake and now have to practice outdoors, whilst their administrator works without electricity in the lobby ruins of their building. Nevertheless, the dance company have the energy and enthusiasm to help in the IOM’s work. They regularly visit the camps and lead the children in Tchaka dance, before teaching them about cholera with the help of posters. One group of children were captured on video for ‘Citizen Haiti’ by Mark Turner. The youngsters are shown dancing in the street of their camp to ‘Soleil soleil’ and with their smiles and movement, they are as cheerful and happy as the song blaring out through the streets of Port-au-Prince.

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