Aid to earthquake-ravaged Haitians as storm threatens

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Prime Minister Ariel Henry of Haiti on Monday pledged a “tenfold” increase in rescue and aid efforts for his ear...


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Prime Minister Ariel Henry of Haiti on Monday pledged a “tenfold” increase in rescue and aid efforts for his earthquake-ravaged southern peninsula, as he expressed in private his frustration to the American ambassador at the slow deployment of aid.

Mr Henry’s public promise on Twitter and his private anger, conveyed in an internal State Department update shared with The New York Times, came as local and international aid agencies struggled to deploy aid medical and research teams in the area about 80 miles west of Port. -au-Prince, the capital.

The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Saturday morning could not have come at a worse time for Haiti. Caribbean nation still traumatized by unresolved issues Assassination on July 7 of President Jovenel Moïse and is still recovering from the catastrophic earthquake that destroyed much of the Port-au-Prince region in 2010. Extreme poverty, systematic gang violence, the pandemic and a history of dysfunctional government have only worsened the struggles of the 11 million Haitians.

The civil protection agency did not provide a promised update on casualty figures Monday morning. As of Sunday evening, the death toll stood at nearly 1,300, with hundreds missing and thousands injured in an area devoid of medical resources under normal circumstances.

According to another internal US government assessment, the homes of 1.5 million Haitians in the southern peninsula are structurally damaged.

The need to accelerate aid has intensified as Through the tropical depression threatened Haiti and other Caribbean countries. The storm, which made landfall in Haiti on Monday, could dump enough heavy rains to cause possible mudslides and flooding in the quake area, where hundreds of thousands of survivors are sleeping in the open.

“We will act faster,” said Mr. Henry in its publication on Twitter. “Aid management will be speeded up. We are going to increase our energies tenfold to reach, in terms of assistance, as many victims as possible.

Officials interviewed in and around Les Cayes, a town on Haiti’s southern peninsula severely affected by the earthquake, feared the storm would bring disease and hunger as strong gusts of wind and rain further complicate and delay relief efforts.

But the destruction of churches across the southern peninsula may be the biggest blow to long-term support for Haitians in the affected area.

For many Haitians, their only source of lifelong assistance, in the absence of strong government institutions, has been the church. Many were in ruins after Saturday’s earthquake, leaving entire towns and at least one town without a church.

“Our church is destroyed and many churches in and around Les Cayes are destroyed but we have faith and we know that as long as people are still here we can rebuild our community,” said Reverend Yves Joel Jacqueline, 44. , who works at Les Cayes Cathedral with the Cardinal of Haiti, appointed by the Vatican.

“In Les Cayes, we are alone here. There is no government support, ”he added.

The heavy concrete roofs and domes of churches on the southern peninsula are now collapsed, tabernacles twisted or buried under rubble, walls marbled with deep cracks. Every church seen by New York Times reporters in a 25-kilometer drive in and around Les Cayes on Sunday was completely destroyed, with the more than 100-year-old cathedral in the town of Jeremiah, an architectural monument, left in ruins.

Father Jacqueline stood atop the rubble of his church and leaned against a gnarled set of red and white radio towers that collapsed at the entrance to the building, printouts from a past Christmas program strewn across the floor .

The priest had shared the residence with the Archbishop of Cayes and the Cardinal of Haiti. The three men escaped from the building while having breakfast, but a disabled priest who ate with them and two women who look after the residence were killed.

“The church suffered from the situation in Haiti, from the kidnapping, from the uncertainty and then from the coronavirus,” said Father Jacqueline, referring to the widespread gang violence across Haiti which did not spare them. religious institutions, with thugs kidnapping priests and nuns for ransom. .

A team of men used their hands and hammers to extract what they could from his destroyed residence, including sensitive religious documents, while trying to keep men in the street at bay who wanted to take what they could, all that remained intact from the destruction.

Local officials fear that as the population becomes more desperate, they will start to grab what they can, even sparing the church.

The only government assistance his church has received so far, Father Jacqueline added, has been the removal of the body of his colleague, the deceased priest.

Harold Isaac contributed reporting from Les Cayes and Milo Milfort contributed from Port-au-Prince.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Aid to earthquake-ravaged Haitians as storm threatens
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