The earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 sparked a massive displacement crisis. At the peak of the crisis, there were over 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 1,500 camps scattered across Port-au-Prince and the surrounding regions. Four years later, approximately 147,000 IDPs remain in 271 camps. These declines are dramatic, but it is difficult to determine the extent to which those uprooted have been able to access truly durable solutions to their displacement, and what should be done to support solutions for those who remain displaced. This is not only a humanitarian problem, but a challenge with important development implications. This challenge is not unique to Haiti. From the Philippines to Pakistan, resolving post-disaster displacement crises and addressing the development issues at their roots stands out as a critical concern that will only grow in importance as natural disasters associated with the effects of climate change become more severe.
On March 14, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) hosted a discussion on the humanitarian and development challenges that accompany efforts to resolve the large-scale displacement crises that emerge after natural disasters. Drawing in particular on experiences in Haiti and the results of a new Brookings-IOM field study entitled Supporting Durable Solutions to Urban, Post-Disaster Displacement: Challenges and Opportunities in Haiti, the panelists analyzed opportunities to improve responses to this challenge in Haiti and in other post-disaster contexts around the world. Panelists included co-author of the study, Lorenza Rossi of IOM; William Lacy Swing, director-general of IOM; Harry Adam, director of the Unit for Housing and Public Construction of the Prime Minister’s Office with the Government of Haiti; Gaetano Vivo from the World Bank; and Thomas Adams, U.S. special coordinator for Haiti. Brookings Fellow Megan Bradley moderated the discussion.