BOGOTA — Two weeks after Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti, relief workers are still struggling to reach remote rural communities in the country’s hardest-hit southwestern areas, after roads and buildings were destroyed by flooding and mudslides.
The Category 4 hurricane struck Haiti on Oct. 4, leaving more than 1 million people in need of urgent assistance and creating the worst humanitarian emergency in the impoverished Caribbean country since a devastating earthquake in 2010.
Many roads remain blocked due to collapsed buildings and debris. Some isolated villages can only be reached on foot, with Haiti Red Cross volunteers carrying what supplies they can.
Many towns have been virtually wiped out in the worst-hit areas. According to latest government figures, 546 people were killed and 128 people went missing as a result of the disaster.
Here are some facts about the humanitarian emergency:
• More than one in five Haitians has been affected by the storm.
• Around 1.4 million people – more than 40 percent of them children – need some type of humanitarian aid, including clean water and food.
• The most urgent need is for clean water and hygiene kits to stop the spread of cholera, a water-borne disease that is endemic in Haiti. The storm damaged most of the cholera treatment centres in the hardest-hit areas.
• More than 200,000 houses have been badly damaged and 175,000 people have been uprooted from their homes and now live in 224 temporary shelters across the country.
• Nearly 120,000 children are not going to school because classrooms have been damaged.
• The United Nations has received just $15 million of the $120 million it appealed for after the hurricane, further hampering relief efforts.
• In Haiti’s most affected areas, farmers have lost at least 50 percent of their crops, while fishing, the main livelihood for coastal communities, has stopped as boats were washed away in the storm.
Sources: Government of Haiti, U.N. humanitarian agency (OCHA), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
— by Anastasia Moloney | Thomson Reuters Foundation