Caritas is launching an international appeal for 250,000 euros for hurricane-hit Haiti. Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti on 4 October. Over 15,500 people fled their homes and 350,000 need help. The storm also passed over Cuba and touched the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and St Vincent and the Grenadines before heading to Florida in the USA.
Caritas Haiti director, Fr Jean Hervé François described its effects on the south of the country as “catastrophic”. Thousands of people are in temporary shelters, hungry and without their possessions. Others are in damaged homes.
Caritas Haiti gave out food packages, warm meals, blankets and hygiene items in flooded communities. Challenges to Caritas responding immediately include blocked roads and flooded rivers which can’t be crossed.
The Caritas appeal will provide 13,500 people with food and hygiene kits. This includes water cans, items to purify water and blankets. Priority will be given to people in shelters, pregnant women, children and adults with physical disabilities. Caritas will focus its distribution on Jérémie and Les Cayes, towns in the south-west just as Jamel, Nippes, the west and north-west.
Caritas will raise awareness about the increased risk of infectious diseases, such as cholera. Cases have already been reported in the south. Caritas Haiti has warned that the lack of clean drinking water increases the risk.
Catholic Relief Services (US Caritas member organisation) staff are in hard-hit Les Cayes assembling kits containing hygiene, kitchen and shelter supplies for distribution. In the Dominican Republic and nearby countries, CRS is obtaining supplies. This includes tarpaulins for temporary shelter. It will be brought to Haiti’s southwest region when transportation resumes.
Catholic Relief Services is committing an initial $5 million to help Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean recover from Hurricane Matthew. Based on the most critical needs, still being determined as teams are reaching areas cut off by the storm, CRS’ response will include:
- Emergency shelter materials – tarps, ropes and blankets— and construction of temporary shelters using local materials that are cost-effective and easy to assemble.
- Drinking water, hygiene kits, hand-washing stations to prevent diseases outbreak. The area is still reeling from a cholera outbreak in the months following the earthquake and there’s a high-risk for another outbreak.
- Cash to families to cover their most immediate needs.
- Living supplies, including kitchen utensils and buckets.
What lies ahead
Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. This is the biggest disaster since the 2010 earthquake when 100,000’s of people died. People need food and water immediately. Materials to repair houses such as wood, nails and corrugated sheeting are also essential. There are still people in temporary housing from the 2010 earthquake so is important that a more permanent solution to housing is found.
What you can do to help
Caritas confederation has mobilised to collect funds for Caritas Haiti to give immediate help. The people of Florida may be facing their own Hurricane Matthew crisis, but are also collecting funds for Haiti and Cuba and other countries hit in the Caribbean. They’re preparing to send food through Catholic Charities in Miami (a US Caritas member organsiation).
Donate to Caritas programmes responding to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew by donating through Caritas Internationalis or your national Caritas member organisation. Keep Haiti and Hurricane Matthew-affected countries alive in your thoughts and prayers.