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UN seeks 187 million dollars to help Haiti recovery after earthquake

Published August 26,2021

The United Nations plans to launch an appeal on Wednesday seeking nearly 200 million dollars to help Haiti in its recovery effort after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck nearly two weeks ago, causing large-scale damage across the southern peninsula.

Two days after the August 10 quake hit south-western Haiti, Tropical Depression Grace dumped heavy rains in the same quake-affected regions, causing flooding and blocking access to roads.

"As you can imagine, additional human and financial resources are needed to respond to the crisis," Stephan Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said on Tuesday as the UN's acting deputy emergency relief coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, visited Haiti and the regions affected by the deadly tremor.

The epicenter of the powerful quake was 8 miles south-east of Petit-Troude-Nippes in the department of Nippes. The regional departments of the Southwest and Grand'Anse also suffered widespread damage, decimating some rural communities. All three regions were devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

More than 2,200 people were killed in the quake when homes, hospitals and churches collapsed. More than 12,200 people were injured and more than 130,000 houses were either damaged or destroyed. Haiti's Office of Civil Protection, which is leading the quake response, said about 800,000 people have been affected and an estimated 650,000 people — 40 per cent of the 1.6 million people living in the three affected departments — are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.

Even though the latest earthquake was less catastrophic than the 2010 temblor, which left more than 300,00 dead and 1.5 million injured, the impact has been devastating, the UN said.

The UN's appeal is for 187.3 million dollars and targets a half million individuals of the 650,000 most vulnerable.

"We need efforts for recovery and reconstruction to start in earnest and simultaneously with the humanitarian response," Haiti Prime Minister Ariel Henry said.

Bruno Lemarquis, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, said the country and its people need the world's solidarity more than ever to help with the multiples crises.

"Moving towards recovery, and taking into account lessons learned from the devastating 2010 earthquake, it will be absolutely essential to support and rally behind national leadership and coordination efforts, support national and local capacities, systems, economic actors, and to build on Haitian knowledge and expertise," he said.

The back-to-back disasters hit while Haiti was still reeling from the July 7 assassination of its president, Jovenel Moise, and as the country faces an escalation in gang violence. The violence has affected more than 1.5 million people since June, with at least 19,000 displaced in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, the UN said.

"The compounded effects of an ongoing political crisis, socio-economic challenges, food insecurity and gang violence continue to greatly worsen an already precarious humanitarian situation," the UN said in its latest update of the situation.

In the days since the disaster, efforts to get food and potable water to the quake-ravaged regions have stepped up, and the government, with help from non-governmental organizations like CORE, founded by actor Sean Penn, is starting to remove the debris.

The international Organization for Migration (IOM) has also issued a preliminary 15-million-dollar appeal to deal with the initial needs. It is tracking the movement of the internally displaced people with new technology, including satellite imagery and mobile phones.

For the first time the IOM is also allowing individuals to donate privately for Haiti assistance through a platform that it is using in Afghanistan. Individuals will be able to give from 1 to 100 dollars and the money will be used for items for the vulnerable population, said Giuseppe Loprete, IOM country director for Haiti.

Carissa Etienne, a physician who heads the World Health Organization's Americas office, said Wednesday that Haiti's health ministry is coordinating with humanitarian partners and has asked for additional support for surgical and trauma care for the victims of the earthquake.

The Pan American Health Organization, Etienne said, continues to distribute much-needed medical supplies and is working closely with the Haitian Ministry of Health and emergency teams on the ground. She noted that the quake has delayed a Covid-19 vaccination campaign that was launched just weeks before the disaster struck.