A 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Haiti early on Saturday morning, resulting in severe damage, injury and deaths. Initial reports by the National Emergency Operations Center say the disaster has resulted in at least 300 deaths and 1800 injured thus far (COUN, 2021).
With an epicenter located about 13km (8 miles) from Petit Trou de Nippes, the most affected areas are the South, Nippes and Grande Anse regions of Haiti, where hundreds of homes, schools and hospitals have been damaged and destroyed. Beyond the risks caused by the tremor, Haiti remains under alert for tropical storm Grace, rising sea levels and Tsunami in the coming days.
With nearly 2,000 people injured already counted, the most pressing needs are for medical attention and care for the wounded. Hospitals are overwhelmed by the heightened demand, piling atop the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and damages sustained. Several have called for emergency reinforcements.
In any natural disaster, people with disabilities, women, children and aging people are the most likely to be negatively affected. During the 7.0 earthquake that hit the country in 2010, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) teams saw the devastating effect on these populations. Between 2,000 - 4,000 people had limbs amputated from injuries caused by the 2010 earthquake. Over 90,000 people were given rehabilitation care to prevent the onset of permanent injuries. HI teams say this situation could be similar.
“From our previous experience, we’re expecting an enormous need for rehabilitation,”says HI Emergency Pool Manager, Anissa Bouachria. “There are thousands injured, and many of those injuries may worsen or turn into permanent disabilities. Beyond this, people have experienced significant trauma and will need psychosocial support in addition to basic needs like food, water, shelter and items for personal hygiene.”
HI is preparing a response
HI, already present in Haiti, is assessing the evolving situation and preparing plans for intervention. At this time, teams are working closely with local authorities to identify the most pressing needs and possibilities. Additional HI emergency teams have been activated, and will be sent for reinforcement as soon as possible.
Among the greatest needs for the population, the following have been identified as potential areas of HI intervention due to the organization’s expertise in these fields:
- Rehabilitation services and distribution of mobility aids
- Psychosocial and mental health support
- Logistics support
- Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
- Basic needs (food access, shelter, cash transfers)
Over a decade of experience in Haiti
HI has been active in Haiti since 2008 and has developed a close relationship to the community. The organisation has been an active part of disaster relief interventions related to the 2010 earthquake and 2016 hurricane Matthew, while ensuring an inclusive humanitarian response in these efforts. Among other activities such as inclusive livelihood and rehabilitation, HI also set up the first DVFP (disability and vulnerability focal points) and partnered with the BSEIPH (Office of the Secretary of State for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities). Today, HI remains committed to serving the people of Haiti this moment of great need.