PAHO, UN Organizations to seek emergency funds for Haiti

News and Press Release
Originally published
Washington, D.C., October 1, 2004 (PAHO) - The Pan American Health Organization and other UN agencies today are issuing an emergency appeal for $30 million for "emergency relief and early recovery needs of the Haitian people following the disastrous floods of 17-18 September 2004."

The appeal for emergency aid in food, health, water and sanitation, agriculture, education, early recovery, shelter and infrastructure, and coordination of humanitarian assistance covers 6 months. It was prepared in collaboration with the government of Haiti and non-government agencies working in affected areas such as Gonaïves and Port-de-Paix, and is being launched at the UN.

According to official figures from Haiti's Civil Protection Directorate, 1,514 people have been killed, 952 are still missing, and 2,600 were injured as a result of the hurricane. Almost 300,000 were affected.

In health, water and sanitation, PAHO experts in Haiti said "Damage to the power system, interruption of the water supply and heavy contamination of wells, housing, and other facilities with mud are likely to increase the risk of increased incidence of the most common diseases, if no measures are taken." They also noted that "disruption of the already poor health services and the loss of income will reduce access to populations not directly affected by the flooding."

Experts are requesting $9.9 million for health, aiming to reestablish primary health care for the affected population, provide essential drugs and supplies, set up an emergency surveillance system to detect disease outbreaks, and to monitor and improve water quality, sanitation, and vector control. The requests, in collaboration with other UN and non-government groups, also include HIV/AIDS care, nutrition, oral rehydration, latrine construction, water and sanitation, cold chain for vaccines, reconstruction of maternity facilities, and others.

The appeal notes that "The international community has reacted with distribution of food and water and the provision of immediate medical attention, in spite of a very complex security situation. These efforts to date have been insufficient to meet the immediate needs of the population. There will be significant needs for international support in the rehabilitation phase after the immediate humanitarian crisis. The hospital and many schools and other state buildings have been badly damaged or destroyed."

Haiti's "political instability in 2004 has exacerbated the vulnerabilities created by chronic poverty and environmental degradation," the UN appeal says. "The current transitional government, appointed in March, faces formidable challenges and it is politically fragile, and its main task is to steer a process of transition leading to the election of new authorities in 2005."

The UN appeal said initial damage assessments will be completed in early October, and said, "Due to the gravity of the impact in Gonaïves and the relatively insufficient resources at hand, little attention has been able to be paid to other affected zones. The entire area between Gonaïves, Ennery, Port-de-Paix and Anse Rouge has been affected. The road between Gonaives and Cap-Haitien, the main road to the north, is partly destroyed. Consequently, the whole northern department has been isolated from the rest of the country."

PAHO, which also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization, has been working for more than 100 years with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and raise the living standards of their peoples. Established in 1902, PAHO Member States today include all 35 countries in the Americas. France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are Participating States, and Portugal and Spain are Observer States. Puerto Rico is an Associate Member.