HURRICANE MATHEW STRIKES HAITI, CHOLERA OUTBREAK SPIRELS OUT OF CONTROL


Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti on October 4th causing substantial amounts of deaths, displacements and an intensified risk of a cholera outbreak.

HAITI-CARIBBEAN-WEATHER-HURRICANE

Areas of Jeremie, Haiti; destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, photographed on October 8th, 2016. Source: The Atlantic

 

The category four hurricane, Mathew, hit southwestern Haitian shores on Tuesday 4th around 5 PM forcing many to abandon their homes and families in seek of shelter and increasing the risk of a cholera outbreak. A continued lack of funds to rebuild water infrastructure and hospitals further jeopardizes the Haitian people.

 

haiti-map-hurricane

Source: Civil Protection Directorate. Retweeted by @USEmbassyHaiti

 

Cholera has been prominent in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake as a result of poor water quality. Many have long feared a cholera outbreak in the area and experts say hurricane Matthew may bring this scenario closer to reoccurring. David Nabarro, Medical Doctor and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, has expressed particular concern that inaccessible areas are making it difficult to evaluate the full scale of the outbreak; “We don’t know if there are many people with the problem of cholera in the areas that we cannot access and that is why I ask the people, let us access everywhere” he told Reuters.

 

 

Haiti’s first outbreak of cholera in more than 100 years was announced by the Ministry of Public Health on October 19th, 2010, a mere 10 months after the disastrous 2010 earthquake. With more than 450.000 affected and over 6000 deaths, the Haitian government swiftly recognized the need for foreign aid. Despite efforts made by the local government and the international community to contain and eliminate cholera from the Hispaniola Island, the measures were of limited avail. By the time Matthew struck, many houses had yet to be reconstructed, many remained unchecked for cholera and clean water supplies were still to be installed in many parts of the country.

In an official statement, the Elysse set forth the essential steps towards de-escalating the cholera situation; “the most urgent thing is now to furnish drinking water to the population and prevent sanitary risks” emphasizing the urgent need for medical personnel. France sent 60 civil security experts and through the French department of Doctors Without Borders another 26 medical doctors. However, as Nabarro points out, on the 18th of October, two weeks after the hurricane came ashore, UN had received just 15 million USD out of a total of 120 million USD requested; “it is difficult to have a good UN response if we don’t have enough money” he said disappointedly.

Humanitarian non-governmental organizations, such as the Red Cross and CARE, have come together to provide basic needs for the impoverished population, considered to be the poorest in the western hemisphere. An ongoing lack of organization and uneven distribution of aid has resulted in general civil unrest. On Tuesday 18th a Dutch Military ship carrying 35 tons of food, hygiene kits, and medical supplies had to abort its mission by leaving the Haitian Port of Jeremie due to chaotic circumstances; “This terrible drama reminds us again of the extent of the humanitarian challenges facing Haiti and its population” said Alexis Lamek, French Representative for the UN.

 

Video related article:

Source: CBS News.

Written by: Fiona Catherine Krogh Gerson, Cassandra Bakketeig Thomassen,  Isadora Clough, Sebastían Berko and Pedro Esteban.

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We are a group of five students in our 1st year studying International Relations in Universidad Europea de Madrid. We write in this blog as a part of an assignment in the Observatory of Current Affairs, focusing on the central and south America regions.

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