Haitian Government to Relocate up to 200 Slum Dwellers
The Associated Press – By Trenton Daniel – 29 June 2012
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti plans to relocate several hundred people from a flood-prone shantytown to an arid plain northwest of Port-au-Prince, a government official said Friday.
The architect of the move, Minister of Environment Joseph Ronald Toussaint, told a local radio station that up to 200 houses are readily available in the area of Morne Cabrit outside the capital.
That isn’t enough to move all the people who are at risk of major floods in the shanty above the capital but Toussaint said he was trying to figure out housing for the remaining people.
“This is a project that’s meant to save lives,” Toussaint told a reporter on the privately owned Radio Vision 2000.
The flood-protection effort to demolish about 450 homes to build channels and reforest the hillsides has angered some of the residents of two gigantic shantytowns who say they have no place to go.
The government plans sparked a demonstration on Monday as more than one thousand people criticized President Michel Martelly for fallen short on his campaign promise to build homes following the 2010 earthquake. The protest was largely peaceful though some threw rocks at police, cars and bystanders.
An untold number of people in the hillside shanties of Morne L’Hopital and Jalousie, where many of the protesters lived, absorbed Haitians displaced by the powerful earthquake two years ago. Some moved into public plazas.
There were once as many as 1.5 million people living in displacement camps after the earthquake but that number has shrunk to under 400,000, the International Organization for Migration said this week.
That number has decreased through a combination of rental subsidies to camp residents, forced removals by land owners and voluntary departures.
Martelly said he supports the idea of relocating people from the hillside shanties because their lives are at risk but added that he wasn’t aware of the minister’s plans, according to a local newspaper.
“Perhaps I was not aware of this decision,” Martelly was quoted as saying in the Friday edition of Le Nouvelliste.
Despite the promise of housing, Donald Joseph of Morne L’Hopital said he had no interest in leaving the capital.
“This is not going to be good for me to pick up my families to move to Morne Cabrit,” said Joseph, a 43-year-old carpenter. “Morne Desert is a desert, from I understand. I don’t plan to move there, and I’m not moving there.”