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Matthew Hurricane: affected population faces growing hardship

Emergency
Haiti

More than a week after Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, the misery of its victims continues to deepen. The worst hit areas remain difficult to access and food insecurity is growing by the day. Handicap International has expanded its emergency teams to aid the most isolated vulnerable people.

Handicap International's teams are working with injured people in Les Cayes, after the hurricane hit Haiti last week.

Handicap International's teams are working with injured people in Les Cayes, after the hurricane hit Haiti last week. | © B. Almeras / Handicap International

"It is still very difficult to access people affected by the hurricane,” explains Hélène Robin, head of Handicap International’s emergency operations. “The major roads are almost impassable for lorries transporting humanitarian aid and there have been no large-scale food distributions yet. There’s nothing left to eat, the crops have been destroyed, and the rare stores not flattened by the storm have been looted. The threat of famine is causing families a lot of distress.”

Food distress has heightened security tensions across the island. Regular incidents have been reported on the road linking Les Cayes to Jérémie in the province of Grand’Anse, in Jérémie itself and up to Port-au-Prince. Handicap International’s security adviser is expected to arrive in Haiti within days to ensure the organisation’s operations are not jeopardised and to provide support to teams already in the field.

“Our priority is to get humanitarian aid to casualties, families who have lost everything, and the most isolated people,” stresses Hélène Robin.

To overcome the problem of road closures, the organisation is also beefing up its team of logistics specialists and plans to organise humanitarian aid deliveries by sea using local carriers with boats. The aim is to provide NGOs working in isolated regions with their supplies of equipment and to distribute them without further delay.

A team of four experts has been deployed to the city of Les Cayes to case-manage the injured. A project manager specialised in special needs, a psychosocial project manager, a physiotherapist and a social worker will assess the state of the hospitals and rehabilitation services before providing support to local facilities. If necessary, it will also supply mobility aids such as wheelchairs and crutches.

Lastly, Handicap International continues to assess the humanitarian situation in the northwest of the island, also seriously affected by Hurricane Matthew. Few humanitarian actors currently work in the area, despite the population’s significant needs.

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