Port-au-Prince – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Haiti have joined forces in a desperate plea for $21 million in aid to provide much-needed protection and shelter to tens of thousands of people who have been forcibly displaced by escalating gang violence in the capital city of Port-au-Prince since mid-August.
The eruption of violence in the Carrefour-Feuilles and Savanes Pistaches neighborhoods has driven many residents to flee their homes, resulting in their settling in makeshift locations, as opposed to host communities and families, thereby facing additional vulnerabilities.
Philippe Branchat, Chief of Mission in Haiti for the IOM, stressed the gravity of the situation, explaining that “Displacement severely risks the health, food, and economic security of people, exposes them to gender-based violence, and puts pressure on local infrastructure and social cohesion within host communities.”
According to the IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), nearly 200,000 people are now internally displaced in Haiti, with approximately 70,000 residing in inadequate and precarious spontaneous settlements and collective centers. An alarming 31,000 are left to sleep in the open air, and 34,000 have been crammed into classrooms.
The dire conditions have left many families struggling to meet their basic needs, with inadequate shelter and overcrowded living conditions contributing to heightened tensions, increased violence, and a greater risk of sexual assault.
One displaced woman shared her harrowing experience, saying, “When the shooting started, I left my neighborhood with my son. I had to find us a place to shelter quickly. I found the Lycée Jean-Marie Vincent; it lacks space in the classrooms, and when it rains, we sleep standing up in the rain.”
In response to the crisis, IOM and the Haitian government have taken the lead in activating the Shelter Cluster, bringing together governmental actors, UN agencies, and local and international NGOs. Cluster partners are now intensifying efforts to distribute essential supplies such as blankets, mats, water storage containers, emergency shelter kits, and kitchen sets to 70,000 people. In total, 53 collective centers for displaced individuals will receive equipment and repairs, and cash assistance will be provided to 130,000 people living with host families. IOM is also facilitating the relocation of the most vulnerable individuals from displacement sites to more suitable housing.
To enhance the efficiency of aid delivery, IOM has implemented a Common Pipeline mechanism in Haiti, making core relief items available to partners.
The ongoing crisis has strained the capacity of host families to support displaced individuals, leading to secondary displacement and increased vulnerabilities. Over the course of six months, the percentage of displaced people staying with host families has decreased from 75% to 55%, while the number in collective centers has risen from 25% to 45%.
Complicating the situation further, more than 115,000 Haitians have been forcibly returned from neighboring countries in 2023, many of whom lack proper identification, making their reintegration a complex challenge. IOM data underscores that nearly 22% of those repatriated had previously been internally displaced within Haiti, emphasizing the need for sustainable, long-term solutions to address the root causes of internal displacement.