PETIONVILLE, Haiti — At the lush, fenced-in entrance, the sign says "private club-members only." But the Petionville Club, Haiti's only golf course, has lost any air of exclusivity it once enjoyed.
An estimated 50,000 earthquake survivors call it home, making it one of Haiti's largest tent cities.
So many settled on these forlorn fairways that shopping districts have sprung up, with at least a dozen barber shops, a cyber café, and multiple mini food markets.
"It's bigger than the town I grew up in," said Catholic Relief Services' Niek De Goeij, a Netherlands native who is coordinating humanitarian operations at the course. Maybe not for long. Fears that the rainy season will turn the tent city into a disease-filled quagmire have prompted officials to begin moving people out, with the focus on 7,500 camp dwellers who live in particularly dangerous parts of the golf course.
On Saturday, relief workers sought to transport 100 people on buses to a new site called Corail Cesselesse. The plan is to move as many as 750 a day over the next 10 to 12 days. Engineers from the U.N. peacekeeping force, Minustah, and the U.S. military identified about six places in the camp at severe risk of flooding -- and others where mitigation work needed to be done to prevent further flooding and mudslides.
Humanitarian groups told residents in the camp's "high-risk" areas that they had five options: Return home if their house is deemed structurally sound; go to a safe place near their home; move in with a neighbor or host family; move to a safer location in the camp; or move to Corail Cesselesse, the site set aside by the Haitian government that will be overseen by aid groups. The land there can hold 20,000 people.
Some camp dwellers said they planned to stay put, fearful of new neighbors or other uncertainties.
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