Haiti

People in Les Cayes, Haiti, afraid to go into their houses – Save the Children

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Les Cayes, 19 August – Children and their families in Les Cayes, one of the areas hardest hit by an earthquake in Haiti five days ago, are still afraid to go into what’s left of their houses to get their possessions, Save the Children said.

Tremors and a 4.9 magnitude aftershock on Wednesday have made people extremely wary of being indoors, triggering deep emotions among people who lived through a 2010 earthquake which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, Save the Children staff in Les Cayes found.

Some 2,000 people died and 9,990 were injured at the weekend after the Caribbean nation was hit by a 7.2 strong earthquake that destroyed or damaged an estimated 137,000 houses. Children have lost their parents or siblings.

Field Manager Carl-Henry Petit-Frère of Save the Children, who has been working in the hardest hit area in recent days, said:

“In 2010, everybody in Haiti lost friends and family. I lost many friends, I lost the friend who I sat next to at school my whole life. Every new shock, every collapsed building is a reminder of that terrible day for the people here, they say. They remember it vividly, and especially children who are now a bit older will remember it as well. Some people are shaking, crying after new shocks. I’m shaking. This reality needs to be part of any effort to rebuild this community.

“Our team spoke to one woman in a school, who had lost her 12-year old daughter in a landslide last Saturday. Heart breaking. A school principal told our team. ‘All I have is my breath, I have nothing else left’.”

Even before the earthquake, more than 1.1 million people in Haiti were estimated to be one step away from famine, including hundreds of thousands of children.

This week Save the Children has started to distribute items such as tarpaulins, jerry cans and sanitary pads to help families cope with the first impacts of the earthquake and is scaling up its response. Distributing supplies to those in need has been challenging due to poor infrastructure and a lack of security.

Leila Bourahla, Save the Children’s country director, added:

“We call on all parties involved to ensure supplies can reach those most in need as soon as possible, and for international donors to step up their support – it is literally life-saving.”

“We have started distributing the little stock we already had in place before the earthquake hit – but people are desperate, so we had to be cautious while giving it to families. The needs are just far too great. We all need to do our utmost to support these people with all we have, as the needs are growing by the day.”