• The death toll has surged to nearly 2,000 and more than 9,900 injured, figures that will likely continue to climb as search and rescue operations are still ongoing.
• The Haitian Civil Protection General Directorate (DGPC) says 137,000 families have been affected in the Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes departments. About 500,000 people – 40 per cent of the total population in the affected departments – are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
• Nearly 61,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 76,000 have sustained damages in the three most affected departments, leaving thousands homeless and creating an urgent need for emergency shelter solutions.
• An initial rapid assessment found that 24 health facilities have been affected in the Sud,
Nippes and Grand’Anse departments, with 20 suffering infrastructural damages and 4 destroyed.
• The passage of Tropical Depression Grace had a moderate impact on Haiti, triggering flooding in Jacmel, Les Cayes and Marigot, which created additional safety risks for damaged homes and those left homeless by the quake.
• Today, 18 August, two more humanitarian convoys are scheduled to deliver assistance to people in need. Convoys have faced roadblocks erected by communities with unmet needs, highlighting the need for Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) and Communication with Communities (CwC).
Four days after a devasting 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit south-western Haiti, the level of destruction and desperation is becoming increasingly evident. As of 18 August, the death toll has surged to nearly 2,000 and more than 9,900 injured, figures that have risen exponentially since the early hours after the quake on 14 August and will likely continue to climb as search and rescue operations are still ongoing to identify and locate the hundreds more who are still missing. More than 80 per cent of deaths so far have been recorded in the Sud department, registering nearly 1,600 deaths, while 205 are dead in Grand’Anse and 137 in Nippes.
While assessments are still in their early stages, the Haitian Civil Protection General Directorate (DGPC) says that 137,000 families have been affected in the three most affected departments (Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes), with at least 500,000 people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance in these departments, representing about 40 per cent of the combined 1.6 million people living across the three departments. Among those affected are 1,475 people living with disabilities, including 720 women and children, who need urgent assistance to meet their differentiated needs, as they are more vulnerable to abuse and violence, including sexual and genderbased violence, discrimination and exclusion from assistance. Photo credit: UNICEF Haiti As Tropical Depression Grace passed over Haiti’s southern peninsula between 16 and 17 August, search and rescue missions were temporarily affected. However, operations have intensified with the arrival of additional search and rescue teams and humanitarian personnel are scrambling to expedite operations. Search and rescue teams have managed to save at least 34 people from the rubble. Grace dumped approximately 10 inches of rain over the same southern-western parts of the country still reeling from the impact of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Coastal towns, such as Jacmel, Les Cayes and Marigot, have experienced considerable flooding. Civil protection authorities are urging extreme vigilance on the part of affected people as the combination of heavy rains and possible aftershocks from the earthquake could bring down the cracked walls and roofs of damaged homes.
The southern and western parts of the country, particularly the Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes departments, have suffered devastating damages and losses, including in housing, buildings, critical infrastructure and roads. However, seaport, airport and telecommunications infrastructure have not suffered major damages. According to the DGPC, almost 61,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 76,000 have sustained damages, leaving thousands homeless. The number of displaced and homeless people will likely continue to grow over the coming days and weeks, creating an urgent need for emergency shelter solutions.
However, many official shelters have suffered various degrees of damage in the most affected areas, forcing displaced people who cannot stay with family and friends to setup makeshift tents constructed of wood and tarpaulin to protect themselves from driving rains, many of which were torn down by Tropical Depression Grace’s strong winds. People whose homes are destroyed are taking refuge in assembly points, mainly public squares and empty land. There are 5 such assembly points in the Sud department and 33 in the Nippes.
Government officials are working to carrying out rapid assessments of building safety to identify possible locations that could provide shelter to those displaced and homeless, but heavy rains delayed these assessments on 16 and 17 August. Even before the quake hit, 19,000 people internally displaced by gang violence, some residing in formal sites while others in informal ones, needed durable shelters solutions, with the quake-triggered displacements exacerbating existing shelter challenges for internally displaced people.
With thousands of displaced people sleeping in the streets as rains poured down, the vulnerable population are increasingly exposed to the rising risk of infectious diseases, including cholera, acute respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases and malaria. Widescale displacement and poor living conditions with restricted access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services is major concern, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the commune of Pestel, Grand’Anse, nearly 1,810 water cisterns have been damaged or destroyed, creating an urgent need for safe water for drinking and sanitation.
In the three hardest hit departments, the health system has been severely affected as health needs continue to grow exponentially in the aftermath of the quake, making humanitarian intervention in health a critical response priority to ensure access to life-saving assistance and the continuation of other critical services, including those in sexual and reproductive health. An initial rapid assessment found that 24 health facilities have been affected in the Sud, Nippes and Grand’Anse departments, with 20 suffering infrastructural damages and 4 destroyed.
Navigating the complex security situation and negotiating humanitarian access remain some of the biggest challenges faced by humanitarian partners. Despite successful negotiations in opening of a ‘human corridor’ through gang-held areas, humanitarian convoys heading to the hard hit southern peninsula have been blocked by affected communities, whose needs from different ongoing crises or the recent quake in WASH, health and food insecurity have yet to be addressed, demanding that their unmet needs be addressed before the convoy moves on. Today, 18 August, two more humanitarian convoys are scheduled to deliver humanitarian assistance to people in need.
Despite its strength and depth, the earthquake is less catastrophic than that of 2010, which left more than 300,000 people dead and 1.5 million others injured. Nevertheless, the impact of the 14 August earthquake has been devastating, particularly as the country was still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 which affected many of the same people in the southern peninsula still struggling to repair or rebuild their homes and livelihoods. These crisisaffected people, whose needs will only continue to grow in the weeks and months after this devasting earthquake, lack the resources to recover from yet another crisis. New needs will overlap and exacerbate those already emerging from other crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, internal displacement due to gang violence and growing food insecurity, potentially creating a protracted crisis in a context of chronic political instability and insecurity.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.