HAITI: Red Cross Delivers Ominous Predictions for Homeless Survival in Rainy Season

Posted on April 14, 2010

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DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Rainy season to spark ‘minor disasters’ for Haiti: ICRC


Haiti evacuates quake victims camp, faces critics
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) April 12, 2010 – Three months to the day since Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake, authorities Monday ramped up moves to forcibly evacuate dozens of tent cities across the capital, in a chaotic effort criticized by the UN. After evicting some 7,300 people at the weekend who had been living on the grounds of the national stadium, the government began the forced removal of a further 10,000 from camps that sprung up in Port-au-Prince after the January 12 quake, which killed more than 220,000 people and left around 1.3 million homeless. The United Nations has lobbied the government “to see if there wasn’t a more humane way to move the people,” said France Hurtubise, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Some 900 impromptu camps have been counted across the capital, while officials have warned for months that the coming rainy season could prove to be another emergency situation by worsening unsanitary conditions if no better living situations are provided. “We were told we had a week to leave, and we could go in Tabarre Issa,” a UN camp to hold 2,500 people, said Mathieu Thomson, who has been living in a tent near the Saint-Louis de Gonzague college. “But there’s nothing there. No toilets, no showers,” he told AFP.

The aid group Action Against Hunger has already slammed the government over its forcible evacuation of the Sylvio Cator stadium, with spokeswoman Lucille Grosjean saying the organization is “shocked at the way it has happened… There is no solution offered to the people” who lived there. Haitian authorities meanwhile Monday convened an emergency meeting to address the severe petrol shortage affecting Caribbean nations and especially Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas. Some gas stations in Port-au-Prince had run out of fuel by midday Monday. An attendant at a Texaco station however insisted that “the shortage is temporary.”

by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) April 13, 2010
The international Red Cross warned Tuesday that a rainy season peaking in mid-May would spark “minor disasters” in Haiti, where 1.3 million people remain homeless after January’s deadly quake.

“There is certain to be … a long series of minor disasters caused by the rainy season throughout the quake zone in the improvised settlements which we’ll have to do our utmost to mitigate,” said Alex Wynter, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Haiti.

Some 38,000 people could be potentially affected by the rainy season, as their shelter lies in zones that are prone to flooding and landslides, said the ICRC.

“Within these, 9,000 people are in effect sitting on river beds and certain to be washed away if they are not moved,” added Wynter.

The ICRC is planning to set up warehouses in six strategic points around the country in order to rapidly distribute relief items to the population if a disaster strikes.

The relief agency also wants to create a command and communication hub ahead of the hurricane season which is expected to begin June.

“The hurricane season of course is a Russian roulette, it’s pot luck. They might get a hurricane, they might not,” said Wynter, adding that coastal areas would be “particularly vulnerable.”

The January 12 quake killed more than 220,000 people and left around 1.3 million homeless.

While many survivors are still without permanent shelter three months after the quake, UN agencies noted that many have received some form of aid or other.

The World Health Organisation said 500,000 have been vaccinated against tetanus, diphteria, measles and rubella in the past three months.

The UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs also said that more than 3.5 million people have received food relief, and 1.3 million now have access to drinking water daily.

“The humanitarian response has allowed us to avoid the worst, but there is still a lot to do,” said Christiane Berthiaume, spokeswoman for the UN children’s fund Unicef.