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Fear that slum will replace earthquake camps in Haiti

Three-and-a-half years after a devastating earthquake that killed 200,000 people, Haiti is slowly returning to normal.

There used to be 1.5 million people living under tents in the immediate aftermath of the quake – that number has now dropped to 320,000.

Much of the rubble has been cleared from the capital Port-au-Prince.

But there are fears that a gigantic new slum could spring up on the capital’s outskirts.

In the heart of Port-au-Prince, a choir poses for photographs in Place Boyer.

The park, which in January 2010 was a sea of tents housing those made homeless by the earthquake, is now a beautifully manicured space, with elegant red flowering Flamboyant trees.

Mosaics line the paths. Boys play basketball, friends hang out, and couples stroll holding hands. There is even free wi-fi.

The earthquake rubble that was piled up in the streets of the capital when I last visited 18 months ago has largely disappeared – and the mountains of plastic bottles that littered the roadside and blocked canals are gone from the city centre.

Eviction concerns

The ruined presidential palace, which was a symbol of the earthquake’s devastation, has been cleared away – and the infamous Champ de Mars camp for earthquake victims no longer engulfs nearby streets.

The statue of Haiti’s independence leader Toussaint Louverture can be seen clearly. The tents and the sea of humanity which surrounded it have gone.

“Haiti has come a long way since the earthquake,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe says.

“We are collecting three times as much garbage as we did before the quake. When we took over, we had 1.5 million people living in tents – with very little hope. We plan to relocate everybody by the end of President [Michel] Martelly’s first term.”

Some left the camps voluntarily, others were given a rent subsidy.

But there are concerns that forced evictions are also responsible for the declining numbers in camps in Port-au-Prince.

Agathe Nougaret, the urban co-ordinator for Oxfam in Haiti, says families have had their tents burnt down in the middle of the night, forcing them to flee.

Read the full story on   BBC News

Category: World News |

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Last updated December 4, 2016 at 1:52 AM
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