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Haiti: initial sketchy reports suggest significant humanitarian needs

Emergency
Haiti

Following the passage of Hurricane Matthew, which hit Haiti on Tuesday 4 October, large swathes of the affected area remain inaccessible, making it difficult to assess the impact of the storm. The strength of the hurricane, its scale and the poverty of the areas affected suggest significant humanitarian needs. Handicap International is preparing to send an emergency team to Haiti in addition to a team already in the field to assist victims of the disaster.

Map of Haiti after the passage of Hurricane Matthew

Map of Haiti after the passage of Hurricane Matthew | © B. Almeras / Handicap International

Hurricane Matthew, ranked at Category 4 of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, made landfall in southern Haiti on Tuesday 4 October, bringing strong winds, torrential rain, flooding and landslides to more than 25% of the country, mainly the Grand’Anse and Sud departments. A large part of the affected area is still inaccessible due in particular to the destruction of a bridge linking Port-Au-Prince to the towns of Cayes and Jérémie.

We already know that this disaster has caused considerable damage to the Grand Sud region, where more than 10,000 people have been evacuated to over 300 temporary shelters. Authorities in the town of Cayes are reporting man-height flood waters.

“The first reports to reach us are worrying. Lots of people have lost their homes, plantations and cattle.  Shortages are very likely, particularly of food and essential household items,”  “The logistics of reaching these areas and supplying humanitarian aid to the isolated people who need it are going to be challenging, because they are very difficult to access. We are also worried that the flooding caused by the hurricane will lead to major health risks, such as cholera epidemics.”

Hélène Robin, head of Handicap International’s emergency response

To assist victims of the disaster, Handicap International will send an emergency team to Haiti on Thursday, in addition to a team already in the field. The team will focus on providing logistics support at the request of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) and will assess the needs of people affected by the disaster.

The hurricane continued its trajectory and made landfall in the Dominican Republic and on the eastern tip of Cuba, where more than 300,000 people have been evacuated to temporary shelters. It is currently moving towards the south-eastern United States.

Handicap International in Haiti and Cuba

Handicap International has been present in Cuba (provinces of Pinar del Rio and Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Baracoa and Guantanamo) since 1998 and Haiti (region of Port-au-Prince, department of Nippes, municipality of Delmas, municipality of Carrefour, and the departments of Artibonite and Nord) since 2008. In Haiti, Handicap International has provided support to tens of thousands of victims of the earthquake of January 2010. 

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