A 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the island of Haiti Saturday morning causing massive destruction. With over 10,000 injured and the death toll at almost two thousand, the extent of devastation grows worse daily. With many missing, Haitian officials believe those numbers will rise. UNICEF estimates that over 1 million people including over 540,000 children have been affected by the earthquake. Access to water, housing, and other services have been disrupted along with public infrastructures such as schools, churches, hospitals, bridges, and roads. Over 80,000 homes have also been destroyed.
To make matters worse, Tropical Storm Grace is making it harder causing flooding and mudslides. The Tropical storm is also making it more difficult for aid organizations to deliver needed supplies and aid to displaced residents. The destroyed infrastructures have also made it difficult for those who are injured to obtain medical help. Combined these factors have hindered humanitarian efforts.
Bruno Maes, UNICEF’s Representative in Haiti, who is currently in Les Cayes said, “Countless Haitian families who have lost everything due to the earthquake are now living literally with their feet in the water due to the flooding. Right now, about half a million Haitian children have limited or no access to shelter, safe water, health care, and nutrition,” said Maes.
Haitians are in desperate need of food, medical supplies, shelter, water, and toiletries as identified by USAID. The long-term effects of this natural disaster are unknown but the World Health Organization has declared a state of emergency for Haiti for the remainder of the year. This comes at a time of immense turmoil for the country which has endured political instability with the recent assassination of their president, increased gang violence, and the COVID-19 pandemic.