The Human Impact

Storm Isaac puts spotlight on Haiti’s homeless

BOGOTA (AlertNet) – Couples strolling through parks and squares now empty of makeshift tents, crowds enjoying football matches and voodoo and hip hop summer festivals, rubble-free streets.

These were signs of normality that I saw during a trip to Haiti last week, returning to the Caribbean nation two and a half years after a massive earthquake flattened the capital Port-au-Prince.

But as Tropical Storm Isaac tore through Haiti early last Saturday killing at least eight people and washing away food crops in muddy flood waters, the plight of hundreds of thousands of Haitians still living in tent camps is once more in the spotlight.

Around 390,000 Haitians who lost their homes in the earthquake still live in 575 makeshift camps and settlements dotted in and around Port-au-Prince, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a Geneva-based intergovernmental organisation.

Families live crammed together in flimsy tents and shacks made from bed sheets, tarpaulin and scrap metal, providing little protection from torrential rains and the threat of water-borne diseases like cholera.

New MSF emergency health clinic in Haiti an “advance”

Medical aid charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has opened a new emergency health referral centre in Haiti, which will celebrate its official launch on Wednesday in conjunction with Haiti’s health ministry.

The move is part of a much-needed campaign to improve conditions in a country where the vast majority of people live below the poverty line.

“MSF is now supporting the Ministry of Public Health and Population with 600 hospital beds in Haiti for emergency care,” said Gaëtan Drossart, MSF’s head of mission in Haiti.