Since Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti last Tuesday, Handicap International has been mobilising both its Haiti teams and emergency teams to ensure that no-one is left behind. Disabled, injured and vulnerable are often the most at risk in the aftermath of a disaster. The United Nations estimates that more than 2.1 million people have been affected, of whom 1.4 million are in need of immediate humanitarian aid.
“We are working to supply immediate aid to survivors who have lost everything. Casualty numbers are high,” explains Helene Robin, head of Handicap International’s emergency programmes.
“Our priorities are to provide immediate and appropriate rehabilitation care to make sure that people do not die from their injuries or develop permanent disabilities and to supply survivors with the equipment they need to build a shelter and prepare food.”
To supply essential humanitarian aid , Handicap International plans to reinstate its logistics platform, set up in response to the hurricanes of 2008.
“In 2008, we set up a logistics platform with a fleet of 40 off-road lorries to transport humanitarian aid to isolated areas impossible to access with conventional vehicles” explains Helene Robin.
“We have dispatched two logistics officers to Haiti, who are working to immediately restore the logistics platform in order to provide humanitarian organisations with access to the most isolated populations.”
The platform will be made available to all humanitarian organisations and will help redistribute aid centralised in Port-au-Prince to avoid overcrowding in the capital.
Rising casualty numbers threaten to overwhelm the few health centres and hospitals not hit by the disaster. Handicap International teams will provide rehabilitation care and psychosocial support to the victims of the disaster, along with distributing walking aids like crutches, walking frames and wheelchairs.
Our teams will also support families who have lost everything by supplying kits including ropes and tarpaulins to make emergency repairs to their homes. We will also distribute cooking kits and distribute water purification tablets to avoid the spread of disease.
“As always, we will work to make sure that disabled and vulnerable people are not forgotten and get the support they desperately need” says Aleema Shivji, Director of Handicap International UK.
"Everyone around here has lost everything" - Testimony of Josie Pierre in Haiti
“I live in Ravine, Charles, in the commune of Jérémie (one of the cities worst hit by the hurricane)” explains Josie Pierre, 22. “Everyone around here has lost everything. The house where I used to live with my mother and two nephews has been destroyed. The corrugated roof was torn off and the walls collapsed.
“My uncle’s house and my cousin’s house were both destroyed by the hurricane. As far as I know, all of the houses around here were destroyed in the hurricane. Only four homes are still standing. We lost all of our cattle, all of our cows, pigs, goats and poultry. I don’t know how we are going to survive now that we have nothing left.”
Handicap International is calling for donations to help hurricane victims in Haiti at: https://donate.handicap-international.org.uk/give/haiti/
- Interviews available upon request with field staff in Haiti.
- Aleema Shivji, Director of Handicap International UK, is available for interviews. Before becoming UK Director in 2012, Aleema was the head of mission for Handicap International in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010.
Handicap International in Haiti
Handicap International has been in Haiti since 2008. We have a wealth of experience providing emergency rehabilitation care and psychological support, distributing basic needs items and ensuring that the most vulnerable people can access humanitarian aid. In January 2010, Handicap International provided support to tens of thousands of victims.
Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK
Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737