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Haiti one year on: Rape crisis festers on

Twelve months after the quake wrecked 350,000 homes and left at least 1.5 million people homeless, 87 per cent of the survivors are still living in dangerous tented camps.

Dozens of rapes are committed every day, and so much rubble is uncleared that what remains on the ground, clogging any serious reconstruction, would fill trucks which would stretch halfway round the world. All this in a country which, staggeringly, hosts tourists from cruise ships.

A new report published by ActionAid says: "In the capital Port-au-Prince, between 1.3 and 1.7 million people continue to live in increasingly squalid tents with little hope of moving to transitional shelters. Less than 30,000 of those displaced have found permanent homes. There is no strategic plan for shelter, land disputes are widespread and tonnes of rubble needs clearing, much of which is thought to contain human remains."

It added that "until the Government frees up the land needed, we are forced to spend donations on replacing tents and other piecemeal measures designed to help people get by in overcrowded camps".

The two great obstacles to getting people into permanent shelter are the vast quantities of rubble and land disputes. The quake created 20 million cubic metres of rubble, and less than 5 per cent of this has been cleared. International agencies, which have the resources to start building more permanent housing, also face huge problems obtaining permission from landowners because more than 70 per cent of campsites are on disputed land. The country's dysfunctional land registry has fallen apart since the earthquake, and forged documents and multiple claimants are commonplace.

Even the state does not know how much land it owns, which helps to explain why only 30,000 of the 2.5 million displaced people have found permanent shelter. To put this into context, Indonesia took five years to replace 139,000 houses destroyed in Aceh by the 2004 tsunami. In the developed world, six years after the 1995 earthquake that hit the Japanese city of Kobe, people were still living in temporary accommodation because property claims had not been settled... (Continue)

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