Handicap International’s teams already present in Haiti are preparing to assess the damage and the essential needs of affected populations. Another team is expected to arrive in Haiti tomorrow evening to help organize the response and facilitate access by humanitarian organizations to areas affected most by Hurricane Matthew. Audrey Lecomte, Handicap International emergency response team coordinator gives insight into the situation after briefing with the team.
What is the situation like in Haiti?
Audrey: It is extremely difficult to assess the situation for the moment because very little information is reaching us from the worst hit areas. Most humanitarian organizations have not been able to access the coastal areas, which took a direct hit. The main road, Nationale 2, is blocked near Petit Goâve. Telecommunication networks have also been severely disrupted.
How will Handicap International respond to the disaster?
A: We will start by assessing needs in the field, particularly for families affected by the hurricane. In Port-au-Prince, Handicap International’s teams are already assessing the impact of the hurricane on people displaced by the earthquake of 2010, who still live in camps near the city.
We will also facilitate access to affected areas and populations. This will be a top priority for all humanitarian actors over the next few days. Because of our expertise, UN agencies have called on our organization to provide them with logistics support.
What impact will the disaster have on the lives of people living in Haiti?
A: We will need to provide immediate physical rehabilitation for people with injuries; access to drinking water and shelter are also essential needs that require an immediate response.
Flooding has also raised longer-term risks: fields have been destroyed and many people risk being deprived of their livelihoods. Stagnant water raises the risk of epidemics: cholera and dengue are already serious problems in Haiti and there could be a new outbreak.
We need to make sure affected populations immediately receive food aid and supplies to prevent these diseases, such as medication, mosquito nets, and oral rehydration salts.