Haiti: Relief Efforts & Dangers

Almost a month after the earthquake which ravaged a significant portion of public facilities and private buildings in Port-au-Prince and nearby cities, French-speaking netizen Espas Ayisien blogs about the different realities of people who survived the disaster:

Those who go back home

De nombreux Haïtiens ont regagné leurs domiciles durant le week end dans plusieurs quartiers de la région métropolitaine. Cette décision semble être motivé par la diminution de la fréquence et de la magnitude des répliques de la semaine dernière.

Many Haitians went back home at the weekend, in various neighborhoods around the capital city. This decision seems to be motivated by the decreasing number and magnitude of the aftershocks last week.

Those who migrate towards rural areas

Dans le même temps, d'autres résidents de la région métropolitaine poursuivent l'exode vers les villes de province.

Meanwhile, other inhabitants of the city surroundings continue their exodus towards smaller towns.

Those who live in temporary housing

Par ailleurs, les personnes dont les maisons ont été détruites maintiennent leur présence dans les centres d'hébergement provisoire.

Besides, people whose houses were destroyed stay in the temporary housing sites.

This concern about people's housing and security explains Espas Ayisyen's list of the top priorities of the Haitian government:

1) Aménager des sites d'accueil dans la périphérie des villes avec une capacité maximale de 10 000 personnes, soit 2 000 familles

2) Créer des sites à l'intérieur des villes en identifiant des espaces de proximité supplémentaires, quartier par quartier pour l'installation des campements transitoire de taille agréable, soit 300 à 500 personnes

3) Distribuer des tentes et des kits d'urgence incluant des bâches en plastique et armature légere avec un support direct à la population déplacée.

1) Organize shelters in the outskirts of the city which should not exceed 10,000 people or 2,000 families.

2) Create areas inside the cities and identify any extra available zones, neighborhood by neighborhood, in order to set up human-scaled temporary camping sites for 300 or 500 people.

3) Hand out tents and emergency kits including plastic tarps with light frames, to directly support the migrating population.

Here is a post (in Creole) by Reseau Citadelle, discussing this decision, which was announced by the Haitian Prime Minister. The creation of this safer but quick temporary housing has caused some people to try and take advantage of the situation; blogger Réseau Citadelle posts a warning message to condemn profiteers. Here is an excerpt:


Les TENTES recues EN DON (CADEAU) pour les sinistrés sont en train d'etre vendues à US$ 125 au petit peuple…. Ce peuple qui n'a pas 1 sou et dont les membres de leurs familles viennent de périr sous les décombres.

The TENTS received as DONATIONS (GIFTS) for the victims of the disaster are being sold at US$ 125 to the less well-off…Those people who live without a penny and whose relatives died under the rubble.

Those earthquake survivors who can't afford the extravagant and illegitimate prices asked of them may now be exposed to more threats, since most buildings have not been checked by specialists and can still collapse at anytime. Here is what Espas Ayisien says about it [Fr]:

Toutefois des spécialistes ne cessent de lancer des mises en garde contre l'occupation des maisons fissurées. Craignant l'effondrement de ces maisons en cas de violentes répliques, les géologues ont soutenu que des ingénieurs doivent donner leur avis sur les différents immeubles.

Une équipe d'ingénieurs haïtiens a été récemment constituée par le ministère des Travaux publics en vue d'évaluer l'état des constructions.

Outre l'occupation des maisons endommagées les autorités ont interdit la reconstruction de nouvelles maisons.

However, specialists keep on warning people against living in damaged houses. For fear that these houses may collapse in case of violent aftershocks, geologists have insisted that engineers must analyze each building.

A team of Haitian engineers has recently been appointed by the Ministry of Public Works in order to assess the situation of the buildings.

Besides prohibiting living in damaged houses, the authorities have forbidden the building of new houses

But, as always in Haiti, there is hope: Espas Ayisyen announces the arrival of a team of 300,000 specialized Japanese engineers, brought in to assist the UN and Haitian teams on the ground in assessing the plight of the buildings and in planning for the future.

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