As the death toll in Haiti soars to more than 800 following Hurricane Matthew, humanitarian organizations face a race against the clock. Rising casualty numbers threaten to overwhelm the few health centers and hospitals not hit by the disaster. Large sections of the population are also at risk from epidemics.
The city of Jérémie in Grand’Anse, which has been almost entirely destroyed, remains impossible to access. It will be several days or weeks before all land routes reopen.
“We are working to supply immediate aid to survivors who have lost everything. Casualty numbers are high,” explains Hélène Robin, head of Handicap International’s emergency programs. “Our teams in the field have two priorities: to provide them with immediate and appropriate care to make sure they do not die from their injuries or develop permanent disabilities, and to supply people affected with the equipment they need to build a shelter and prepare food.”
More than 750,000 people need immediate humanitarian aid and first responders are expecting very heavy damage in the Grand-Anse and Sud regions, particularly in the cities of Jérémie and Les Cayes, according to the United Nations.