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At a glance: Haiti

Immediate action provides relief after powerful storm sweeps through Haiti

© UNICEF/2010/Ramoneda
UNICEF Representative in Haiti Françoise Gruloos-Ackerman speaks with a grandmother and her two grandchildren who lost their tent during a recent storm in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

By Benjamin Steinlechner

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 27 September 2010 – A severe storm ripped through Haiti on 24 September, killing five people, including three children, and injuring dozens.

Thousands of temporary shelters in the camps for the survivors of January’s earthquake were either shredded or swept away in the flash floods, further devastating the lives of Haitians.

Immediate response

In response to the storm’s destruction, UNICEF has taken fast action and distributed blankets, tents and hygiene kits.

Caroline Noel, a 34-year-old mother, lives with her husband and three children in Carradeux camp together with almost 2,000 other families. “The situation here is really terrible,” she said.

© UNICEF/2010/Ramoneda
People in Haiti's Caradeux camp queue up for blankets after after a powerful storm struck on 24 September.

Ms. Noel queued up for a distribution of blankets by UNICEF – one of three long lines full of people who had been affected by the storm. “After the earthquake I lost everything, there was no other solution than moving to a camp,” recalled Ms. Noel, who arrived in Carradeux in April from another camp. “Already after the earthquake I had lost everything, now I have lost everything again.”

Like other camps in the battered capital, Carradeux camp is now a scene of partial destruction. People sit on chairs or on the ground next to the remnants of tents that were their homes for the past eight months.

Second tragedy

Since her tent is gone, Ms. Noel now needs to quickly find a replacement to at least provide her family with shelter. They are temporarily sharing their neighbours’ small tent, in which six people already live.

Living conditions in the camp were very difficult even before the storm. “There is not enough food and I struggle to feed my kids,” said Ms. Noel. “Thank God I have friends and family to support me.”

© UNICEF/2010/Ramoneda
UNICEF workers re-establish a health clinic tent at the Petionville camp for displaced people after it was struck by heavy winds and flash floods.

A tent health clinic in Petionville Golf camp, also in Port-Au-Prince, was providing out-patient health care for about 1,200 patients per week before it was torn down in the powerful storm. UNICEF has re-established the clinic and is distributing hygiene kits there.

“This is the first time we’ve worked with UNICEF, and we’re impressed with their efficiency in supporting us to restore our healthcare services,” said Alastair Lamb, Country Director of the J/P Haitian Relief Organization, the group managing the camp.

Work still ahead

UNICEF is also sending two 72 square-metre tents and six recreational kits to a camp managed by its partner the American Refugee Committee in Terrain Acra. In Port-au-Prince, some 10,000 blankets, 1,350 hygiene kits, 400 family tents and many mosquito nets and buckets were distributed.

“This is the result of only half an hour of heavy winds and rain,” said UNICEF Representative in Haiti Françoise Gruloos-Ackerman, who visited Carradeux.

“It really underlines the need for us to work with all our partners on prevention and disaster risk reduction,” she added. “As the hurricane season is still upon us, we have to put all our efforts together to move these families into more solid structures. Some children have lost all their belongings twice in nine months, and this is very traumatic.”



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