While the impact of the earthquake was felt most acutely in Port au Prince, the entire country has been affected. Hundreds of thousands of the displaced have returned to a long neglected countryside and to secondary cities like Cap Haitian. Nate Nickerson, Director of Konbit Sante, provides an update on how Cap Haitian is dealing with the influx and what is being done to meet the health needs of returnees. You can learn more about Konbit Sante's important work, and how you can support them, on their Website and Facebook Page.
Before the earthquake women and girls faced great challenges. Now even more than ever. The earthquake did not discriminate based on gender, but women will be disproportionately affected. Death from childbirth, sexual violence, unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions, possible spread of HIV- these are a few of the increasing challenges facing Haitian women and girls. Despite this, lifesaving reproductive health services can reduce this unequal impact. The RHRC Consortium's statement describes the immediate and long-term health care needs of women and girls and is copied below.
Peace Corps/Haiti was never a very large program. However, Peace Corps Volunteers have long made a difference in Haiti both through the projects we participated in and the relationships we made. Likewise, Haiti made a difference for us, most of all, in the way we view the world. While Peace Corps is no longer active in Haiti, those who served there certainly are. All have been affected by the earthquake and all are taking action in some way. Below is a summary of what Haiti Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) are thinking, feeling, and doing in response. In this way, we both bear witness and re-affirm our commitment to stay connected to Haiti.
In the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) released a report on opportunities for effective reconstruction. The report emphasizes he importance of: (1) providing training and budget support for the Haitian government; (2) rapid job creation, not just in Port au Prince, but around the country; (3) building up the capacity and credibility of the Haitian National Police and courts; (4) strengthening disaster preparedness and response; and (5) the importance of gender sensitive recovery activities. The report is attached and copied below.
Haiti is forever changed. At least 150,000 people, equivalent to the population of Tallahassee, have died. At least 600,000, more than the population of Seattle, are without homes. Over 130,000, approximately the population of Syracuse, have left Port au Prince for the countryside. After a disaster of this magnitude, life does not go back to normal. Still, even in the face of great uncertainty, life goes on. Telecommunications are mostly up and running, some banks are opening, more gas stations are functional, markets and factories are re-openening. Neighborhood committees are meeting and people are attending church services. All agree it will take many years to rebuild. The question is how Haiti can recover and be built back better than it was before?
The suffering caused by the earthquake is difficult to fully comprehend. Haitian authorities report that at least 72,000 bodies have been recovered. Some predict the final death toll will be as high as 150,000 in Port au Prince alone. Up to 1.5 million people may be homeless. ICRC reports approximately 55,000 people in 40 informal temporary camps throughout the city. As you read this, many people are going back to the countryside. While most of the damage took place in the southern portion of Haiti, the whole country will be affected. The Government has declared a period of national mourning until February 17. We all grieve for what Haiti has lost.
Immediately after the earthquake, the main source of information was Twitter, which I have a new respect for. Journalists and aid workers are arriving in Haiti and we are gaining a better sense of just how extensive the damage to Port au Prince is. We also know that Jacmel was seriously affected as well. Aid from the United States, other governments, and humanitarian responders both big and small is picking up. This is a summary of the current situation, who is doing what where, and how you can help. Additional updates will be posted as comments.