Global & Disaster Medicine

The Red Cross right after Matthew laid out Haiti

International Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies

Published: 5 October 2016

Haiti / Panama, October 5, 2016—Red Cross teams have started assessing needs and aiding hurricane-ravaged communities in Haiti, but damage and flooding in the battered southern coastal region is limiting access to the worst affected areas.

“Our staff and volunteers had to wait for storm conditions to calm before heading out to assess the devastation and start delivering assistance, but they have been deployed and are out there trying to reach people in need,” said Inés Brill, Head of Office of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba.

“What we know so far is that hundreds of thousands of people are in dire need of help and tens of thousands will need shelter assistance as evacuations continue. Damage to infrastructure has been extensive in a region where access is always difficult due to poor infrastructure. We anticipate an extremely challenging response logistically, to a major humanitarian crisis.”

The numbers are alarming: Over 1.24 million people affected in Haiti, nearly half of them children, and 350,000 in need of humanitarian assistance[1].

Towns and cities are inundated, particularly the city of Les Cayes, and life-threatening flash-floods remain a serious concern. Likely damage to sewage infrastructure and water sources threaten to worsen existing diseases in the region, including cholera, dengue fever and Zika.

Over 3,000 volunteers and staff of the Red Cross in Haiti have been mobilized to help communities in the path of powerful Hurricane Matthew and are prepared to deliver first aid and other medical care, clean water and sanitation and shelter assistance. IFRC has dispatched health, sanitation and emergency experts to Haiti to supplement the Haiti Red Cross teams, although airport closures prevented them from reaching Haiti today.

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