Some of the thousands of Haitians staying at a makeshift camp on a Port-au-Prince golf course since the country’s devastating Jan. 12 earthquake are beginning to move to safer ground.
An estimated 3,000 people –- out of an estimated 40,000 — have left the hilly, flood-prone grounds of the Petionville Club for a U.N.-run site known as Corail Cesselesse about 17 miles north of the city.
Operated by the U.N.’s Office of International Migration, the camp provides displaced people with sturdier tents and has sanitation facilities, drainage for rain water and access to health care, said Tom Price, senior communications officer for Catholic Relief Services, which oversees the golf course camp.
An estimated 6,780 people eventually will move to the camp in the first phase of the relocation of earthquake survivors. Plans call for expanding the camp to include thousands of other homeless people in prefabricated shelters that offer more protection than nylon tents and plastic tarps.
“It’s a planned camp, not spontaneous, like Petionville,” Price told CNS. “It has drainage and it’s not going to be a problem in the rainy season.”
CRS also is shoring up hills on the golf course by building retaining walls to prevent mudslides that might endanger residents who remain, Price explained. Haiti traditionally experiences heavy rains that peak during May. Then comes hurricane season, which runs through November.
Although some people are moving to more secure ground, hundreds of thousands of others throughout the earthquake-battered region are facing dire circumstances in makeshift tent cities. Aid workers fear that the hundreds of camps around Port-au-Prince and elsewhere will become muddy quagmires and that rains will wash raw sewage into living areas, increasing the danger for massive outbreaks of disease and water-borne illnesses.