The death toll from the earthquake in Haiti rises to 2,200 dead

Five days after the earthquake that devastated southwestern Haiti and killed nearly 2,200 people, the challenge is to safely deliver humanitarian aid to the hundreds of thousands of victims, some of whom live in isolated areas.

According to the Haitian Civil Protection, the balance of the earthquake on Wednesday night amounted to 2,189 dead, 332 missing and more than 12,000 injured. “The rescue operations continue,” he said on Twitter.

The south-west of the country is in chaos, as earthquake victims also have to cope with bad weather caused by Hurricane Grace. The United States contracted eight helicopters from the Honduran army to continue medical evacuation efforts. The USS Arlington, a United States Navy transport ship, was due to arrive in Haiti on Wednesday with a surgical team on board.

“We have nearly 600,000 people directly affected and in need of immediate humanitarian assistance,” explains Jerry Chandler, Haiti’s director of Civil Protection. “We had to find ways to ensure safety, which is still a great challenge. We know that there was a problem at the southern exit of Port-au-Prince, in Martissant, but apparently this problem has been solved since we have been able to pass during the last two days ”, he explains.

Since the beginning of June, safe traffic has been impossible on two kilometers of the national highway that runs through the Martissant area, a poor neighborhood in the Haitian capital, ravaged by clashes between gangs. Following the earthquake that struck the country, sporadic shooting and random vehicle attacks ceased, according to authorities, without any police operation being carried out to regain control of the neighborhood.

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If this informal truce observed by armed gangs is a relief for humanitarian actors, the distribution of aid to the victims of the earthquake is no less complicated. “It has happened that we are faced with populations that are a little frustrated and impatient that cause problems and that block the convoys,” reports Jerry Chandler, specifying that “the idea is to be able to arrive as quickly as possible and serve as many people as possible. “.

More than 200 kilometers away, in the small town of Maniche, residents hope to receive much-needed support after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake. “All the institutions that we had in the town are in ruins: we no longer have a church, the parish hall, the dispensary are totally collapsed …”, Rose Hurguelle Point du Jour lists with consternation. Geordany Bellevue shares this mess and is especially concerned about the isolated areas of his municipality.

“There have been many landslides in the mountains that have killed and injured many people. Some are missing and we don’t have the capacity to look for them on the peaks, ”explains the 32-year-old man. “It is already difficult to receive help here in the center of Maniche, so when it happens, it never reaches the victims in isolated areas,” he laments, recalling the management of humanitarian aid after the passage of Hurricane Matthew in the region in October 2016 .

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