“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 advisor is expected to arrive in Haiti in the next few days to ensure the organization’s operations are not jeopardized and to provide support to teams wherever needed.
“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, Handicap International is beefing up its team of logistics specialists and plans to organize 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 experts has been deployed to the city of Les Cayes to case-manage the injured. A project manager specialized in special needs, a psychosocial project manager, a physical therapist 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.