1.3K DEATHS REPORTED FOLLOWING 7.2 EARTHQUAKE IN SOUTHERN HAITI AS OF 16 AUGUST
13K HOMES DESTROYED BY EARTHQUAKE, WITH ANOTHER 13,000 AFFECTED
$8M ALLOCATED BY CERF TO SUPPORT RESPONSE TO EARTHQUAKE
A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck south-western Haiti on 14 August, with the epicentre some 125km west of the capital Port-au-Prince. With a depth of 10km, the shallow quake destroyed or damaged buildings and homes, infrastructure and roads. Per Haiti’s Civil Protection, there are 1,297 deaths and 5,700 people injured, figures that will likely grow.
The Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes departments, particularly the cities of Les Cayes, Jeremie and Anse à Veaux, were hardest hit, with around 13,000 houses destroyed and 13,000 damaged, leaving thousands exposed ahead of the potential impact of Tropical Depression Grace.
The seventh named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to reach Haiti between 16-17 August.
While the quake is likely less catastrophic than the 2010 earthquake that is regarded as the worst disaster in Haiti’s history after leaving more than 300,000 people dead and 1.5 million injured, it comes in the aftermath of the 7 July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and escalating criminal violence that has displaced around 19,000 people in the south. The convergence of these scenarios stands to worsen conditions for the 4.4 million people in need prior to the quake.
The possible displacement of thousands is setting the stage for a potential surge in COVID-19 infections, which had recently tapered off, that may overburden an already strained health system that is scrambling to respond to the earthquake. Preliminary reports indicate that local hospitals near the epicentre are already overrun with wounded people, especially in Les Cayes and Jeremie.
Needs in affected areas are dire, given the disruption to essential services. Affected communities require healthcare and safe water, those displaced need shelter and the quake’s impact on family and social networks are leaving many in need of protection. Response efforts are facing various challenges between the COVID-19 pandemic and the imminent approach of a tropical depression. Insecurity-related access constraints to southern Haiti, virtually unreachable in the past two months due to road blockages and violence, including violence against humanitarian personnel, also pose a significant concern.
Following negotiations, an initial convoy with Government and UN personnel has made its way to affected areas, with further convoys set to deliver various supplies. The Government, who declared a one-month nationwide state of emergency, and UN and international partners are carrying out post-impact damage and needs and assessments and activating rapid response mechanism. The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is allocating US$8 million to back response in health care, clean water, emergency shelter and sanitation.
Nationally, Haiti’s National Emergency Operations Centre (COUN) has been activated. Key stakeholders ranging from Civil Protection to humanitarian partners are coordinating response actions. Regional coordination is taking place through the Regional Group on Risks, Emergencies and Disasters for Latin America and the Caribbean (REDLAC). UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) is deploying a team to support assessment, coordination and search and rescue.