The situation in the south-west and north-west of Haiti is desperate - the figures speak for themselves. According to the United Nations, though it is now two weeks since the hurricane struck, 1.4 million people are still in need of humanitarian aid and 750,000 people require immediate assistance.
In the Les Cayes region, the authorities have reported more than 3,000 casualties. Handicap International’s own teams have seen for themselves the extreme scarcity of healthcare facilities, which have only meagre resources with which to treat their patients.
Including the most isolated in the humanitarian response
“For this reason we need to assist the local health structures: supply them with suitable equipment, support them in caring for people with injuries or disabilities and, if necessary, provide training in rehabilitation care,” explains Hélène Robin, head of emergency operations at Handicap International.
Handicap International’s emergency activities are now underway with the deployment of mobile teams. The first of these has started work in the hospitals and collective shelters. Their aims are to provide initial rehabilitation care to those with injuries and disabilities, supply them with walking aids to help them get around, and identify the most vulnerable people who do not have access to the assistance they need. A second team is currently being set up in order to step up provision in the very near future.
“It is vital that those who cannot get around or are isolated are not left out,” Hélène Robin points out. “As soon as we have the necessary funding, additional mobile teams will be deployed in remote areas, tasked with identifying those who are injured or vulnerable.”
Once identified, injured, disabled and vulnerable people will be supported by the organisation or referred to the most appropriate health provider for their needs. A team of psychosocial support specialists will organise specific activities designed to help people overcome psychological trauma.
Provision of 1,000 shelter kits for the most vulnerable
According to the United Nations, 90% of homes in the town of Jérémie have been destroyed. Around 1.25 million people, including 500,000 children, need access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation. For some their houses have been totally destroyed, while for others their homes are in such a state of disrepair that families simply cannot return.
1,000 emergency shelter kits will be distributed by Handicap International as quickly as possible to enable local people to regain access to sustainable sanitation facilities. These kits contain the equipment needed to build emergency shelters or repair houses (including tools, ropes, fasteners and tarpaulins). Hygiene kits are also needed to protect people from cholera and contain a potentially widespread epidemic.
A catastrophic situation in the north-west
The north-west is one of the poorest areas in Haiti. The devastation wreaked by the hurricane has exacerbated an already highly precarious situation, with homes either destroyed or very badly damaged and a lack of hygiene and access to food.
“We are studying the options for interventions in this area which so far has had very little coverage by the humanitarian agencies,” Hélène Robin explains, “in order to prevent the situation of the affected communities and their most vulnerable residents from deteriorating any further.”
Handicap International UK has launched an emergency appeal to support disabled and vulnerable people affected by the disaster in Haiti.
Please donate online now or text HIUK01 £5 to 70070.