Scouts of Haiti rush to the aid of Hurricane Matthew survivors
On 4 October 2016, Haiti was struck by Hurricane Matthew, which the United Nations confirmed is the country’s worst disaster since its 2010 earthquake. So far, hundreds of lives have been lost and the numbers continue to rise. In the southern part of the country, 80% of the houses were destroyed or damaged. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimated that more than 750,000 people are in need of immediate emergency help and relief.
Twenty-four hours before the hurricane hit, Scouts d’Haiti had activated its emergency cells across the country. In Jérémie, one of the worst affected parts of the country, the Scout Department Commissioner, Louis Marchel Chancy reported that local Scouts had gone to the aid of their communities immediately after the worst was over. They are still onsite and are helping with whatever means available. In certain areas, Scouting is one of the few organisations present in the field, providing emergency relief which the local communities are very grateful for.
Certain villages are still cut off from the outside world, with some facing deteriorating hygiene conditions, which has triggered cholera outbreaks. Scouts in the affected zones are doing their best to improve conditions and facilitate access to fresh drinking water but with very limited means. There is also an urgent need to clear the rubble and debris and restore access to schools – initial reports indicate that over 300 schools in the area have been severely damaged. The resources currently available are insufficient for the task at hand and financial assistance will be required to allow Scouts to continue their work in serving the population.
Communication systems are currently down throughout the country and the road to Jérémie was blocked for several days. A special unit of Scouts d’Haiti, specifically trained in operating satellite communication gear, was deployed by a UN helicopter to this part of the country where they facilitate the work by the civil services’ Centre for Emergency Response on department and national level. Since 2010, Scouts d’Haiti has been the only organisation capable of delivering this kind of services, thanks to its partnership with Telecom Sans Frontières.
To find out more about the relief and recovery efforts of Scouts d’Haiti and to donate, please visit www.scout.org/scoutaidhaiti page.