United Nations issues emergency aid appeal for Haiti after Hurricane Matthew slams country

les cayes haiti hurricane matthew oct 2016.jpg

In Les Cayes, population about 86,000, a satellite image analysis provided by the Pacific Disaster Center estimated that more than 90 percent of buildings were destroyed or highly damaged by the storm.

Extensive news stories compiled by CHIP editors, Oct. 11, 2016

Introduction by Roger Annis

Haiti has been greatly weakened and impoverished by years and decades of big-power intervention, preventing the country from exercising its political sovereignty and implementing social justice policies to guide its human development. On October 4, 2016, the country received another devastating blow when Hurricane Matthew passed over the western end of the Caribbean island. According to the United Nations, 1.4 million people are in need of emergency aid in the affected area.

This latest disaster greatly strains the already limited resources of the country of ten million people. Seven years ago, a devastating earthquake struck Haiti's capital city region of Port Au Prince, damaging or flattening most buildings in the region and killing 40,000 to 70,000 people. An accurate count of the death toll was never made.

Nine months following the 2010 earthquake, Haiti was struck again, this time by a devastating cholera epidemic. Since then, cholera has killed some 10,000 people and has sickened hundreds of thousands. Cholera was previously unknown in Haiti. The source of the epidemic was the soldiers of the United Nations Security Council military occupation force in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH. Soldiers of the Nepal contingent of MINUSTAH were not screened for cholera prior to entry to Haiti. In Nepal, cholera is endemic. The contingent was criminally negligent when it failed to conduct proper sanitation procedures at its military camp located on a tributary of Haiti's largest river, the Artibonite.

Following the cholera outbreak, the United Nations and its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, fought tooth and nail against any recognition that they were responsible. They have refused to compensate the victims and they have refused to adequately assist Haiti in establishing clean water and sanitation systems. A new resurgence of cholera is one of the grave public health risks issuing from the passage of Hurricane Matthew. Already residents of the hurricane-struck region have died from cholera.

Enclosed are news reports of the situation today in Haiti. Watch this website for an article tomorrow, October 12, reporting on the political repercussions in Haiti of the hurricane disaster.

Two countries rushing to boost their existing aid to Haiti are Cuba and Venezuela. Meanwhile, as in January 2010, the United States has landed soldiers at the international airport in Port au Prince. They are there to enforce what is called 'political stability'. That is code language for pax Americana.

From Wikipedia: 'Pax Americana' describes the state of relative peace [sic] in the Western Hemisphere and later the world as a result of the preponderance of power enjoyed by the United States beginning around the middle of the 20th century and continuing...'


 

Health conditions worsen as aid trickles into remote Haiti

By David McFadden and Ben Fox, Associated Press , Oct 11, 2016

DAME MARIE, Haiti (AP) -- In this most western tip of Haiti, 300 patients with festering wounds lay silently on beds at the main hospital in the seaside village of Dame Marie waiting for medicine a week after Hurricane Matthew hit the remote peninsula.

Among the injured was Beauvoir Luckner, a cobbler and farmer who walked 12 kilometers (7 miles) in three days after a tree fell on his house, crushing his leg and killing his mother. The leg might have to be amputated, but all doctors can do is clean his wounds because the hospital has run out of everything, including painkillers.

"There's no water, no antibiotics," Dr. Herby Jean told The Associated Press. "Everything is depleted ... We hear helicopters flying overhead, but we're not getting anything."

There was also no power and frustration grew on Tuesday as food, medicine and fresh water kept arriving at the main city in Haiti's southwest peninsula but was slow to reach increasingly desperate communities like Dame Marie.

Luckner lay on a mattress with no sheets and a bandage around his left leg. "It took a lot of misery to get here and now that I'm here, there's still misery," he said.

Meanwhile, at a cramped police station serving as a makeshift clinic in the nearby town of Marfranc, Darline Derosier fastened IV drips to jail cell bars, wiped the brows of cholera patients and tended to the wounds of those injured in the storm.

She was the only health worker helping about 40 patients inside the station bereft of police as she waited for help to arrive. Among the patients was an elderly woman lying unconscious on a jail cell floor with a leg bandaged in an old rag and a man with gashes around his neck, his eyes fluttering. "People will die soon if we don't get some aid," an overwhelmed Derosier told the AP.

Aid organizations have been mobilizing. Dr. Dominique Legros, a top cholera official at the World Health Organization, said Tuesday that the agency had decided to send 1 million doses of cholera vaccine to Haiti "as soon as possible" and said safe drinking water and treatment of those affected by the disease are top priorities.

Earlier, the U.N. humanitarian agency in Geneva made an emergency appeal for nearly $120 million in aid, saying about 750,000 people in southwest Haiti alone will need "life-saving assistance and protection" in the next three months.

UN officials have said earlier that at least 1.4 million people across the region need assistance and that 2.1 million overall have been affected by the hurricane. Some 175,000 people remain in shelters.

The National Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince raised the official nationwide death toll to 372, which included at least 198 deaths in Grand-Anse. But local officials have said the toll in Grand-Anse alone tops 500.

Experts also said the hurricane has increased the risk of a spike in cases of cholera, which has already killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000 since 2010.

"In this context of the hurricane, and therefore flooding, therefore potential contamination of the drinking water by fecal sludge, we are quite concerned about the risk of further increase of cholera cases," the WHO's Legros told reporters in Geneva.

Roosevelt Zamos of the Civil Protection Agency said there were 40 cases of cholera in Jeremie alone. He said eight people have died of cholera in Grand-Anse since the storm.

It can take from 12 hours to five days for cholera symptoms to appear after ingesting contaminated food or water, according to the WHO. The open-air cholera treatment center at Jeremie's main hospital had no running water Monday, and at least a dozen of the new patients were under age 10.

People in the southern seaside community of Les Anglais and surrounding areas said little to no aid had reached them by Monday. An aid group tried to distribute food and other emergency supplies by boat on Sunday, but it was forced to leave after a large crowd gathered and began to fight.

An estimated 158 people died in Les Anglais, said two police officers who declined to give their names because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Francis Jean, a 42-year-old farmer and taxi driver, was awaiting help after he, his wife and three daughters survived the storm but lost their roof and all their belongings. "You can't even explain what happened here. I've never seen anything like this in my life," he said. "This town doesn't exist anymore. There's nothing."

Fox reported from Les Anglais, Haiti. AP writer Jamey Keaton contributed to this story from Geneva.


 

UN appeals for $120-million in aid for hurricane-stricken Haiti

By David McFadden and Ben Fox, The Associated Press, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016

MARFRANC, Haiti — At a cramped police station serving as a makeshift clinic, Darline Derosier fastened IV drips to jail cell bars, wiped the brows of cholera patients and tended to the wounds of those injured when Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti’s southwestern peninsula. She was the only health worker helping about 40 patients Monday inside the station bereft of police as she waited for help to arrive in the hard-hit town of Marfranc nearly a week after the Category 4 storm struck Oct. 4.

Among the patients was an elderly woman lying unconscious on a jail cell floor with a leg bandaged in an old rag and a man with gashes around his neck, his eyes fluttering. “People will die soon if we don’t get some aid,” an overwhelmed Derosier told The Associated Press.

The town is a 45-minute drive southwest from the coastal city of Jérémie, where food, medicine and fresh water are finally arriving but still slow to reach increasingly desperate communities. “We haven’t received anything from Jeremie,” Derosier said, adding that she has made several calls requesting help and medical supplies.

The UN humanitarian agency in Geneva made an emergency appeal Monday for nearly $120-million in aid, saying about 750,000 people in southwest Haiti alone will need “life-saving assistance and protection” in the next three months. UN officials said earlier that at least 1.4 million people across the region need assistance and that 2.1 million overall have been affected by the hurricane. Some 175,000 people remain in shelters.

Electricity was still out, water and food were scarce, and officials said young men in villages along the road between the hard-hit cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie were building blockades of rocks and broken branches to halt relief convoys.

A convoy of food, water and medicine was attacked by gunmen in a remote valley where there had been a mudslide, said Frednel Kedler, co-ordinator for the Civil Protection Agency in the Grand-Anse Department, which includes Jeremie.

The National Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince raised the official nationwide death toll to 372, which included at least 198 deaths in Grand-Anse. But local officials have said the toll in Grand-Anse alone tops 500.

The UN also said the hurricane has increased the risk of a “renewed spike” in the number of cholera cases. A cholera outbreak since 2010 has already killed roughly 10,000 people and sickened more than 800,000.

Roosevelt Zamos of the Civil Protection Agency told AP there were 40 cases of cholera in Jeremie alone. He said eight people have died of cholera in Grand-Anse since the storm.

It can take from 12 hours to five days for cholera symptoms to appear after ingesting contaminated food or water, according to the World Health Organization.

The open-air cholera treatment centre at Jeremie’s main hospital had no running water Monday, and at least a dozen of the new patients were under age 10.

Etienne Chimene tried her best to soothe her 13-month-old son, Cenelson, who was lying in a wooden bed with a hole cut in it and a bucket underneath. “I feel like my baby is getting worse,” she said as she stroked his head and he whimpered.

The centre was overcrowded, and patients who were improving were forced outside. Among them was 21-year-old Nedrine Cabane, who sat on the ground with her father. He had brought her a pot of plantain soup that she ate gratefully – her first meal in three days. “The fact that there is so much dirty water around makes me think that more people are going to get sick,” she said.

Dr. Thiery Francois, lead doctor for the Ministry of Health at the cholera centre, said he didn’t know how many new cases had been caused by the storm nationwide. “Certainly there are cases we don’t know anything about,” he said, referring to still-isolated areas.

People in the southern seaside community of Les Anglais and surrounding areas said little to no aid had reached them by Monday. An aid group tried to distribute food and other emergency supplies by boat on Sunday, but it was forced to leave after a large crowd gathered.

“There were too many people fighting. They went to give it someplace else,” Claude Pierre Louis, 63, said angrily as she washed pots in a plastic bucket on the porch of her house, which lost its roof during the storm. She said Les Anglais needed building supplies because almost every house was damaged, and most were destroyed. She added that people already had created a community group to help clear the streets of debris and rebuild on their own.

An estimated 158 people died in Les Anglais, said two police officers who declined to give their names because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Francis Jean, a 42-year-old farmer and taxi driver, was awaiting help after he, his wife and three daughters survived the storm but lost their roof and all their belongings. “You can’t even explain what happened here. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” he said. “This town doesn’t exist anymore. There’s nothing.”


 

Canadian Red Cross vows donations will reach hurricane victims in Haiti

By Michelle Zilio, The Globe and Mail, Oct. 11, 2016

OTTAWA - The Canadian Red Cross is reassuring donors that their money will reach Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew, despite online criticism of how the American Red Cross handled donations after the 2010 earthquake in the poor Caribbean country.

Some social media users are warning against donating to the Red Cross, citing a 2015 report which found that the U.S. chapter of the international humanitarian organization failed to follow through with its promise to help rebuild Haitian communities destroyed by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010.

The Canadian Red Cross said donors can be confident that contributions to its Hurricane Matthew fund will reach those affected. The Category 4 storm brought 233-kilometre-an-hour winds and torrential rains to Haiti last Tuesday, killing about 1,000 people, according to a Reuters tally of numbers from local officials.

“Every dollar put in that Hurricane Matthew fund will stay there and it will be solely for the response in Haiti,” said Stéphane Michaud, director of international response for the Canadian Red Cross. “The money that goes into the Hurricane Matthew appeal, it’s all managed by the Canadian Red Cross.”

The 2015 ProPublica and NPR report found that while the American Red Cross raised nearly half a billion dollars for Haiti earthquake relief efforts, it built only six permanent homes after the disaster that killed more than 200,000 people. The report said housing projects failed for a number of reasons, including mismanagement, land disputes and a shortage of qualified staff.

Links to the report re-emerged on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend. The Canadian chapter responded to tweets about the controversy with links to its own donor report for the 2010 earthquake, which highlights the 7,500 new homes it built in Haiti.

Mr. Michaud said the Canadian Red Cross will continue to respect donor intent through its Hurricane Matthew appeal. He said that while more money is required to deal with the immediate needs in Haiti, there appears to be donor fatigue.

“There are many disasters impacting Haiti,” Mr. Michaud said. “Also, this hurricane was quick to start threatening the United States … so the media spotlight has not been on Haiti for very long, as compared to previous disasters, such as the [2010] earthquake.”

Roger Annis, a co-ordinator with the Canada Haiti Action Network, said he fears the failed aid response to the 2010 earthquake, including the American Red Cross controversy, may impede emergency assistance for Hurricane Matthew victims. He encouraged donors to consider supporting organizations that will help Haitians build the infrastructure they need to deal with repeated natural disasters, specifically pointing to Partners in Health and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.

“If people are concerned about the long-term sovereignty and capacity of the country of Haiti to develop its own resources, I would recommend against the large charities, which in my view just perpetuate the conditions of poverty and of political instability that cause the country to be so vulnerable in the first place.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that a “massive response” is needed to help Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The UN appealed for $119-million to bring life-saving assistance to 750,000 people in southwestern Haiti, one of the hardest-hit areas.

Canada has already set aside $4.58-million in humanitarian aid for Haiti and surrounding countries affected by the hurricane, including $300,000 for the Canadian Red Cross to help with emergency relief efforts.

With a report from Reuters. Follow Michelle Zilio on Twitter: @michellezilio