IOM: Engineer supervising shelter-building killed outside Haiti relocation camp

By Jonathan M. Katz, AP
Saturday, October 2, 2010

IOM: Engineer killed outside Haiti relocation camp

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Gunmen killed an engineer supervising the building of shelters at a relocation camp for Haitian earthquake survivors, forcing construction to be suspended on part of the site, the International Organization for Migration said Saturday.

The body of 42-year-old Pierre Richard Denis was found Friday on the outskirts of the quake-ravaged capital near the Corail-Cesselesse relocation camp, apparently several hours after he was shot, IOM country spokesman Leonard Doyle told The Associated Press.

Denis was returning to work aboard a group taxi around 3:30 p.m. after cashing his first monthly paycheck when he was shot twice. Haitian police investigating the murder suspect the motive was robbery. A police report said the group taxi, known as a “tap-tap,” was followed by unknown assailants aboard a motorcycle after Denis left a bank in Port-au-Prince.

There have been no arrests made in the case.

“It was a despicable act against a talented and hardworking IOM staff member totally dedicated to helping the earthquake victims and their families,” IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said in an e-mailed statement.

It is not clear if Denis, a Haitian national, was visibly identifiable as a staffer with the international organization. Some colleagues said he was wearing an IOM cap at the time, Doyle said.

The camp at Corail was chosen by the Haitian government as its first official relocation space months after the Jan. 12 quake. Placed on a parcel of government-seized former sugarcane land larger than Manhattan it is home to about 7,000 people, most relocated from the Petionville Club golf-course camp in the devastated Delmas section of the capital.

The area was billed as a refuge from the golf course’s flood-prone slopes, but was criticized by Oxfam and other aid groups for being too remote. The AP found the selected site belonged to a Haitian company whose president headed the government committee that chose it.

Since then Corail’s ShelterBox tents have been repeatedly battered by storms. Damage from a Sept. 24 blast of wind and rain prompted the immediate relocation of 110 families within the camp to more durable wood-and-metal transitional shelters Denis was helping to build. IOM is suspending work at the site where Denis was supervising in the wake of the shooting.

Denis leaves a wife and two children aged 8 and 11 years, IOM officials said.

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