Dead are Piling Up…The Sad Need for Transitional Camps

Refugee-camp We saw it just recently in Callais, France. Officials emptying out The Jungle in the name of social justice. It was hard to watch, and saying that I understand the reasons why would sound hollow. After all, I wasn't one of the residents who called it home.

450 homeless encampments alone in Port-au-Prince. Action is required NOW. Poverty and disease are set to dissolve the already terrified and devastated survivors.

But the pattern repeats itself time and again… in Europe, in Africa, in America and now in Haiti. The government is setting up to move 400,000 Port-au-Prince residents into transitional camps. Emergency housing is needed, emergency medical care is needed, emergency food supplies are needed, clean water is needed. In mass tragedy, gathering the people in one place to administer all these needs seems the easiest and most human effective choice. Bodies of children are piling up. The dead are everywhere. If the transitional camp wasn't destined to be ghettoized, the ruins of what are left will be.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don't.

For whatever reason, residents cannot or do not return to their places of origin or find new permanent digs. But these camps were never meant to be homes to hang our hats on. They become havens for black market activities, drug dealing, and human trafficking. Education is harder to come by, watered down if available, epidemics are common, safety is heatedly guarded and power struggles wreak havoc on the communal psyche; and what began as a necessary task of human survival becomes yet another violent cycle to break.  See MSNBC's story below:

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Haiti wants to move 400,000 out of capital

Suburb picked to start; aid still backed up with 1,400 flights waiting

Image: Haitians get water from pothole

Ricardo Arduengo / AP
People use water from a pothole to wash in Port-au-Prince on Thursday. Logistical problems have slowed aid efforts, and many people are still desperate for food and water.

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