Kidnappings and sexual violence against women and girls is also surging.
With the humanitarian situation in Haiti deteriorating by the day – in the face of spiralling violence, protection, human rights and food emergencies, as well as a cholera epidemic – the United Nations and its partners issued an urgent call for increased access and resources to reach people in desperate need.
“We cannot let Haiti become a forgotten crisis,” said Tareq Talahma, the Acting Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at the end of a two-day trip to the country.
The influence of armed gangs is growing exponentially in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and beyond, reaching the Department of Artibonite, the country’s breadbasket. Armed violence – including kidnappings and sexual violence against women and girls – is also surging.
Six senior officials representing UN aid agencies and international NGOs just wrapped up their visit to Haiti, where they met with people who need humanitarian aid, as well as with local and international partners. They held talks with Prime Minister Ariel Henry and other senior Government officials.
The UN and NGO officials also met with community representatives from areas controlled by or under the influence of armed gangs.
“We have appreciated the frank, honest and sometimes uncomfortable discussions with people impacted by the multiple crises in this country, government leaders, UN officials, and national and international NGOs,” said Mark Smith, Vice President of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs of World Vision.
Sara Bordas Eddy, Chief of the Humanitarian Field Support Section of UNICEF, said: “The degradation of the humanitarian needs in Haiti is unprecedented. The suffering of a Haitian child today is not comparable to the suffering of a Haitian child a few years ago. As humanitarians, we are finding ways to reach those in need including in gang-controlled areas. For that to happen in a sustainable way, we also need the donor community to not give up on Haiti.”
Despite the difficulties, the UN and NGO officials noted that the humanitarian response is continuing to be scaled up and committed even more support to aid workers on the ground.
“The population feels desperate, but I also saw the resilience and potential of the women and girls who want to help build a better future for their country, communities and families,” said Shoko Arakaki, Director of the Humanitarian Response Division of the UN Population Fund. “They need urgent health and psychosocial support, but also livelihood and economic empowerment for recovery.”
This year, the UN and its partners will need US$715 million to help more than three million people in Haiti. This is more than double the sum appealed for last year, and the highest amount since the 2010 earthquake.
“More than just humanitarian assistance, what the people of Haiti need is peace, security and protection,” Mr. Talahma said.
Also taking part in the visit were Osnat Lubrani, the Acting Director and Head of the Humanitarian Section of UN Women’s Geneva Office, and Dominic MacSorley, the Humanitarian Ambassador for Concern Worldwide.
Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Featured image: OCHA/Christian Cricboom