How 360,000 Haitians Wound Up Living in Empty Lots and Crowded Schools

Hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti are on the run from rampant gang violence and have abandoned their homes, a worsening humanitarian crisis that the United Nations describes as “cataclysmic.”

Masses of homeless families dodging gang members who burned down their houses and killed their neighbors have taken over dozens of schools, churches and even government buildings. Many places have no running water, flushing toilets or garbage pickup.

The lucky ones are sleeping on a friend’s sofa.

“There are kids at my camp who have no parents,” said Agenithe Jean, 39, who left her home in the Carrefour Feuilles neighborhood of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, in August for an improvised camp in an empty lot about six miles away. “We need latrines. We need somewhere to go.”

Charred vehicles are vivid evidence of the violence that has overtaken many parts of Port-au-Prince. At least 360,000 people have fled their homes in Haiti over the past yearCredit…Clarens Siffroy/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

At least 360,000 people — more than half of them in the capital or surrounding neighborhoods — have fled their homes in Haiti over the past year, and that number of internally displaced people is expected in the coming months to surpass 400,000, according to the U.N.’s International Office for Migration.

Hundreds are unaccompanied children, including orphans and others separated from their parents in the chaos.

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