Five years on from the Haiti earthquake

HELPAGE INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

Haiti – five years on since the earthquake on 12 January 2010

Five years on from the earthquake in Haiti that killed 230,000 people, at least a thousand older people have been moved into new homes and 16 older people’s associations are now up and running, providing long term support, created by HelpAge International.

Once in their homes, older people received financial support for the first year after relocation, enabling them to pay their rent, obtain a health insurance card and cover school costs for any dependent grandchildren. They also receive a grant and training to set up a small business of their choice, such as selling food or household items, as well as training in disaster risk management, for instance, developing a family emergency plan for each household. HelpAge International is committed to relocating a further 400 people into new homes by July 2015.

"I currently live in a clean house, which is furnished and I’m independent,” said Saintanne Jean, 66, who lives with her grandson of nine in Croix des Bouquets.  

“I have my own key, a place for me, a kitchen and a bathroom. I can sleep safely while it rains. When I compare the conditions in the camp and my current situation in this new house, I say it is the best gift I have received in my entire life," she said.

The earthquake destroyed Saintanne’s home and she spent three years in a camp for displaced people in extremely difficult conditions. She was relocated by HelpAge International with the support of ECHO funding. She thanked HelpAge for its support and was confident she could pay her rent in the future.

The older people’s associations began forming in the camps six months after the earthquake but were developed into larger, communal associations and have been advocating nationally for the rights of older people ever since. The Haitian government has recognised them as a national platform speaking on older people’s issues.

More than 230,000 people died, 250,000 homes were destroyed and nearly one and a half million people were displaced. At least 7 per cent of the displaced were identified by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) as people aged 60 and over.

Discrimination is at the heart of the problems faced by older women and men in Haiti and exclusion is also one of the main causes of extreme poverty amongst older people. Older people can experience exclusion from the government, their communities and even their own families. The fact that there is no state pension, they do not have access to credit and there is no legal recourse against family members who take their possessions, all adds to them being among the poorest of the population.

HelpAge country director in Haiti, Jean-Claude Gosselin said,

“HelpAge International maintains a long-term commitment in Haiti beyond the emergency response. Our priorities include the expansion of the network of older people’s associations, the inclusion of their needs and a better understanding of emergency preparedness and response capacity. In line with HelpAge’s mission, we will work with older people so they can improve their livelihoods, maintain good health and ensure their humanitarian needs are met."

Note to Editors

Available for interview: HelpAge country director in Haiti, Jean-Claude Gosselin

The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mearthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne (Ouest Department), approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time (21:53 UTC) on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.

About HelpAge International

HelpAge International helps older people claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives. Our work is strengthened through our global network of like-minded organisations - the only one of its kind in the world.

Media Contacts:

Haiti: Jacky Tchen Bellevue

LondonBeth Howgate or Tel: + 44 207 148 7606

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