Haiti earthquake refugees trade golf course camp for humble homes

Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:48pm EST
 
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By Amelie Baron

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - The tents are gone and clean-up crews are grooming the grounds of the Petionville country club golf course, which served as a camp for 60,000 people made homeless by Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake.

The camp, on Haiti's only golf course, closed last week after the refugees were relocated, according to J/P Haitian Relief Organization, the group co-founded by actor Sean Penn that set up and ran the camp for four years.

The earthquake left almost 1.5 million people homeless in what was already the poorest country in the Americas.

While the camp's closure marks a milestone in Haiti's recovery from the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, J/P HRO said this week that its work in Haiti was far from over.

"We are continuing to build and rehabilitate homes so people can return to their neighborhoods," said Gary Philoctete, director of Haiti Operations for J/P HRO. "There are still a lot of people living in other camps and we are committed to helping those families as well."

According to the government, at least 147,000 people are still living in temporary relief camps, mainly on small parcels of private land around the capital. They face being evicted by landowners.

"LIFE IS NOT OVER"

Hours after the January 12, 2010, earthquake, people who had lost their homes descended on the scruffy 9-hole golf course. At first several hundred troops from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division, sent to Haiti in the aftermath of the disaster, took control.   Continued...

 
Two women walk away from the grassless Petionville Club golf course where tens of thousands of victims of the 2010 earthquake lived until a week ago in a tent camp set up by the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, co-founded by actor Sean Penn, in Port-au-Prince, January 29, 2014, in this handout provided by J/P Haitian Relief Organization. REUTERS/ J/P Haitian Relief Organization/Handout via Reuters