Following the severe earthquake, the Swiss development organization Helvetas is providing initial emergency aid in Haiti. The full consequences of the disaster remain to be seen. Over 1,300 people have died, thousands are injured, and countless more are still missing. Houses, schools and hospitals have been destroyed. Helvetas is on the ground helping to provide emergency shelter and supply the poorest with the essential goods needed for survival.
The earthquake in southern Haiti caused enormous damage over the weekend. Victims are still being rescued from the rubble. More than 1,3000 people have died, thousands are injured, and countless more are still missing. The 7.2 magnitude quake destroyed homes, schools and hospitals. Hospitals and emergency shelters are overcrowded.
Helvetas, the Swiss organization for development cooperation and humanitarian aid, is on the ground and is already providing initial aid. "The people are not well, there is a lack of everything at the moment," says Esther Belliger, Helvetas' Haiti program coordinator. The situation is dramatic, she says.
Emergency shelters, water and survival goods for the poorest people
The Swiss NGO is working hard to coordinate its support with partners on the ground, with other international aid organizations and with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, so that the worst needs can be met as efficiently and quickly as possible. Safe shelters are now being built for those who have been made homeless by the earthquake. At the same time, Helvetas is providing people with the basics they need to survive—including clean drinking water. Helvetas is immediately donating 150,000 Swiss francs for emergency aid in the Caribbean country.
Rapid aid thanks to long-standing local networks
Helvetas has been active in Haiti for almost 40 years—particularly in the south of the island—and has a strong local network. All teams are now in the affected region to provide aid.
Once again, it is the poorest who have been hit hardest. And this is added on to an already precarious situation: "Haiti is in a permanent crisis," says Esther Belliger. The country has been in a severe political crisis since the assassination of the president a month ago. Criminal gangs make everyday life unsafe. There are hardly any functioning state structures that can provide rapid assistance. Nevertheless, a so-called humanitarian corridor has now been established so that the most important aid supplies can be transported from the capital to the affected areas in southern Haiti.
The disaster brings back memories of the devastating earthquake eleven years ago, which killed around 300,000 people.