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  HOME | Caribbean

Haitians Call for Help amid Fears of Potential Cholera Outbreak

PORT-AU-PRINCE – A week after Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti, the government has called for urgent help to prevent the outbreak of diseases like cholera, which left thousands dead in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

Several countries, including the United States and neighboring Dominican Republic, have sent aid to Haiti but the lack of infrastructure and poor logistics have left thousands without assistance.

The hardhit southwestern region of Dame Marie remains cut off from the rest of the country, with hundreds dead and the thousands of people left homeless struggling to survive.

“There is nothing to be distributed” to the victims, said Mayor Michel Guerlince, who warned that if there is no water or food in the coming days, “the worst things can happen.”

In statements to EFE, Guerlince said the government and international communities are not active in this area.

Local resident Andre Joseph, a father of four, said that although the family survived the hurricane, he does not know if they can survive the hunger.

“We have no water and the only health center in the area does not have the capacity or enough doctors for the population,” Joseph said.

More than 70 percent of houses in Dame Marie are severely damaged and most plantations were completely destroyed.

Hundreds of inhabitants are now encamped in a soccer field.

The same situation is present nearly 50 kilometers away in the city of Jeremie, where poor road access has slowed the arrival and distribution of humanitarian aid.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 30,000 people in Jeremie do not have access to clean drinking water.

The World Health Organization reported on Tuesday that the provision of potable water to residents is the only way to prevent a new cholera epidemic from breaking out in Haiti.

The organization has deployed a team of eighty specialists to different areas of Haiti to help Haitian authorities cope with the fragile health situation in the hurricane-struck country.

Doctors Without Borders is also preparing to send forty health specialists.

According to OCHA, 129 people suspected of having cholera are already hospitalized, 78 in Anse d’Hainault, 40 in Jeremie and 11 in Beaumont.

More than 19 percent of the 2.1-million Haitian population has been affected by the hurricane and more than 12 percent (1.4 million people) need urgent assistance throughout the country, with particularly devastated areas located in the south and Grand’Anse.

The UN has made an urgent appeal for funding to provide for the basic needs of victims, who need drinking water, food and shelter to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

According to the latest provisional figures released on Tuesday by Civil Protection, Hurricane Matthew killed 473 people and injured 339. Seventy-five people are still missing and 175,000 people are being housed in 224 shelters.

But sources from relief agencies and local authorities reported last Friday that the death toll exceeded 800.

The hurricane has forced the electoral authorities to postpone general elections originally scheduled for Oct. 9.


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