Nowhere to go, so Haiti's displaced residents stay in squalid camps

The Miami HeraldJuly 11, 2010 

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Before the earthquake, Frances Etienne scraped by with ingenuity and hard work. Using micro-loans to purchase inventory for her business, she sold spaghetti, spices and other food from a small neighborhood store.

Then the tremors struck and wiped out her business -- but not her $3,700 debt.

Since then, she has lived at the Place St. Pierre camp in a tarp shelter with her husband and two teenage daughters, selling cooking charcoal for a living. She makes about $3 on every 110-pound bag she sells. She has fallen behind on her children's school fees and must pay off the business loans within six months.

``The biggest problem is that we can't go home,'' said Etienne, 39. ``When you're obligated to pay these loans, you can't do anything. You're stuck.''


Six months after the January earthquake that devastated Haiti, 1.5 million people like Etienne remain in more than 1,340 tent cities and camps, unable or unwilling to leave.

They stay because their homes were flattened. Or, if their homes still stand, landlords have raised rents to unaffordable levels -- taking advantage of the housing shortage or passing along the increased costs of maintaining property in post-quake Haiti. They stay because their livelihoods were destroyed along with the buildings.

Read this storyon

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service