PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haitians are fleeing their quake-ravaged capital by the hundreds of thousands, aid officials said Friday, as their government promised to help nearly a half-million more move from squalid camps on curbsides and vacant lots into safer, cleaner tent cities.
Aid officials said some 200,000 people have crammed into buses, nearly swamped ferries and set out even on foot to escape the ruined capital. For those who stay, foreign engineers have started leveling land on the fringes of the city for tent cities, supposedly temporary, that are meant to house 400,000 people.
The goal is to halt the spread of disease at hundreds of impromptu settlements that have no water and no place for sewage. Homeless families have erected tarps and tents, cardboard and scrap as shelter from the sun, but they will be useless once the summer rainy season hits.
With much of Port-au-Prince in ruins, there are about 600 impromptu settlements with a population of about 1 million scattered around Haiti, said Dr. Jon Angrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization.
Getting the people to safer quarters could take weeks.
“These settlements cannot be built overnight. There are standards that have to be designed by experts. There is the leveling of the land, procurement and delivery of tents, as well as water and sanitation,” said Vincent Houver, the IOM's mission chief in Haiti.
Phi Beta Iota: First off, Haiti is mountaneous, most of the options are in the narrow strip of land that is waterfront, but there are two big options, both on the tips of land furthest awar from Port au Prince. Second off, “built by experts” is a death wish. These folks are old school. We should be air dropping manna from heaven where we want them to move to, and get out of the way.