Concern Worldwide’s team in Haiti is ramping up its aid distribution operations to reach thousands of people left homeless and in dire need by a massive earthquake which shook the country on August 14.
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake left over 2,200 dead, 12,000 injured and over 650,000 people in need of humanitarian aid. Hundreds of people are still missing and, with some areas only being reached this week by rescue teams, those figures are expected to rise.
“Concern is working with partners to deliver supplies of essential items such as soap, buckets, tooth brushes and toilet paper to help 11,000 people whose homes have either been destroyed or badly damaged by the quake,” Concern’s Country Director Kwanli Kladstrup said. “We will also be supporting partners to distribute shelter kits which contain items such as of plastic sheeting, blankets and cooking utensils.
In the coming days they will begin distributing funds to local groups that support community-led efforts to rebuild and meet needs, reaching hundreds of people. Concern will also be providing direct cash transfers to families to help them purchase the things they need most after the earthquake.
“When the quake struck people fled their homes, leaving everything behind,” Ms Kladstrup said. “These cash payments will enable them to buy items to meet their immediate needs and rebuild their lives in a dignified way.”
Thousands of people who have lost their homes are sleeping in the streets as rains have poured down. “We are in a race against time, as there is an increasing risk of infectious diseases, including acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and malaria,” Ms Kladstrup said.
In the one municipality alone, nearly 1,810 water cisterns were damaged or destroyed, creating an urgent need for safe water for drinking and sanitation, she noted.
The humanitarian organisation is bringing in its water and sanitation experts to assess the situation and plan a response. Concern staff are also helping the Haitian civil authorities to assess and verify the extent of the damage done to key infrastructure such as hospitals and schools, as part of the emergency response.
With thousands of people forced to shelter in unsafe, makeshift accommodations, in such a fragile security situation, protection mechanisms and services are urgently needed for the most vulnerable groups, such as children, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, and the LGBTIQ+ community to ensure that they are all protected against sexual exploitation and abuse such as well as gender-based violence.
Concern is working with local Haitian partners to assess and mitigate these risks and raise awareness among these communities of referral pathways for those impacted.
“The security situation continues to be a challenge,” Ms Kladstrup said. “In addition to the criminal gangs who control the roads out of Port Au Prince to the region impacted by the earthquake, people are getting frustrated and concerned that they may not receive aid and so there have been incidents where aid trucks have been stopped and looted.”
Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley urged the Irish public to continue their support for the emergency response. “Concern has been in Haiti for over 25 years and has an experienced team on the ground, responding to the immediate needs of impacted communities,” he said. “This is possible because of the support of the Irish public. Ireland has always been there for the people of Haiti in their time of need and with this most recent tragedy, this assistance is most desperately needed.”
To donate to Concern’s emergency appeal visit http://www.concern.net/donate/haiti-earthquake-emergency-appeal
*For media queries or to organise an interview with a Concern spokesperson contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 087 9880524*