In a possible sign of progress in quake-ravaged Haiti, the number of people living in homeless camps has dropped by a third, the United Nations reported in a new study.
The population of quake survivors living in tent cities dropped to 1 million, from a peak of 1.5 million in July, the International Office of Migration study said.
But the 130,000 families still living in tents and under tarps in Port-au-Prince and Delmas -- the congested urban center -- underscore the challenges Haiti still faces finding suitable land to relocate people and their homes.
The largest decrease took place in Leogane, a city 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince that had 185 camps in September and 125 last month.
``The decrease is even more dramatic in semi-urban and rural areas and towns away from Greater Port-au-Prince, such as Leogane, Petit Goave, Gressier, Grand Goave and Jacmel, where the population in camps has decreased by over 50 percent and in the case of Leogane, by two-thirds,'' the report said.
``We started noticing a large drop in September and October, and that kept accelerating,'' said Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the International Office of Migration in Haiti. ``I think communities are beginning to be rebuilt. This is the tipping point. People are starting to get the idea that they need to start moving on.''
Many haven't had a choice: Thousands of people were booted out of camps located on private property, in schools and churches. The study showed that of the 1,199 camps visited in September, 12 percent were empty two months later.
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