Port-au-Prince, Jun 6 (EFE).- Heavy downpours in Haiti in recent days have left at least 51 people dead, 18 missing and 140 injured in flooding, the Civil Protection Directorate (DPC) said Tuesday in a report that does not include casualties from the earthquake that hit the southwestern part of the country early in the day.
At least 820 homes have been destroyed by the rains and flooding, another 1,625 have been significantly damaged and 31,591 have been flooded to one degree or another, totaling 39,458 families in seven geographical departments that have been seriously affected, not to mention numerous other buildings, schools and hospitals that have sustained damage, Haitian authorities said.
Civil Protection (DPC) teams are mobilizing along with their partner agencies to coordinate the emergency response and provide blankets, food, hygiene products and fresh water to people in the most heavily affected zones, especially in the west.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry said on Twitter that his government, “along with national and international institutions, is taking urgent measures to satisfy the daily demands.”
This year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1, finds Haiti mired in a humanitarian crisis marked by the return of cholera, an increase in the number of people experiencing food insecurity and the deterioration in the country’s security crisis.
“The disasters caused by a total absence of public policies for the preservation and protection of the environment are causing enormous human and material losses,” said the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH) in a press release.
The organization said that every year the authorities are content to issue prevention messages without doing anything concrete, noting the damage and promising to provide help for the victims, a strategy “that never has given results, it’s not enough.”
The NGO demanded that the authorities implement a serious risk management policy to deal with disasters that includes cleaning up canals, channeling rivers, preventing unregulated cutting down of trees and strengthening community capabilities with the goal of reducing climate-related damage.
The US Embassy in Port-au-Prince has expressed its concern about the effects of the heavy rainfall and demonstrated its commitment to the Haitian people given the “considerable” damage in the affected areas.
The flooding is occurring amid a scenario where the Haitian people are already facing huge vulnerabilities, with the humanitarian response continuing to be underfinanced with just 20 percent of the necessary budget, according to the interim coordinator for humanitarian action in Haiti, Jean-Martin Bauer, who called for international solidarity with the Haitian people.
The forecast from the UHM weather service is for continued rain this week – due to several tropical waves passing over the country – bringing with it the risk of a renewed cholera outbreak in the coming days.
In addition to the effects of the rains, the country is now also tallying the deaths, injuries and material damage from the magnitude-4.9 earthquake that hit southwestern Haiti early Tuesday morning, with the death toll presently standing at 3 along with an undetermined number of injured jamming the overburdened hospitals in the city of Jeremie in Grand’Anse department.