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The new disaster of 14 August has once again brought great hardship to crisis-ridden Haiti. The epicentre of the quake is in the west of Haiti. The areas around Les Cayes and Jeremie were hit hard. This is also the region where Hurricane Matthew caused severe destruction in 2016. ‘The many traumas of recent years (earthquake, hurricane, violence, food crises) are coming back to haunt the people, they are in shock,’ reports the Head of Delegation of Caritas Switzerland. ‘The many traumas of recent years (earthquake, hurricane, violence, food crises) are coming back to haunt the people, they are in shock,’ reports the Head of Delegation of Caritas Switzerland.
No home, no livelihood
More than 2200 people are confirmed dead and over 12,000 injured. The quake caused severe damage to the entire infrastructure and destroyed or damaged a total of around 130,000 houses. Tens of thousands of people, some of whom had been living in their houses for 40 or 50 years, are now seeing only ruins. Their few belongings are buried under the rubble.
Heavy rains in the days after the earthquake made their situation even worse. Many families are living in makeshift shelters that barely protect them from wind and weather, or are even sleeping in the open, using clothing as sleeping bolsters. ‘When it starts to rain at night, we must find shelter with our neighbours, whose roof is still halfway intact,’ one family told us. Landslides and rockfalls have destroyed fields, leaving self-sustaining households with no crops to pick, and therefore without food. More than 650,000 people need humanitarian assistance.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the local Caritas organisations began providing emergency relief to the poorest of those affected. 1400 families are receiving food parcels, soap, hygiene masks and water through Caritas organisations in Les Cayes, Jérémie and Nippes. 15 community centres are being supplied with medicaments so that they can treat people in medical need.
Cash assistance for the most vulnerable
Parallel to this, Caritas Switzerland is preparing a project with its local partners Caritas Cayes and Ahaames to provide financial support to 2000 destitute families. With a one-off sum of money of around 100 Swiss francs, the project beneficiaries will be able to buy food or other everyday goods on the local markets to cover their most urgent needs, or meet medical costs, for example. The intention is that particularly vulnerable families shall benefit from this support: households whose houses have been destroyed, who have to care for sick or injured family members, who have small children; or pregnant women.
Caritas thanks you very kindly for your donations.