Devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew is likely to worsen – Oxfam calls for immediate international action

October 7, 2016

As Oxfam teams access the most affected areas in Haiti, the destruction left by hurricane Matthew is more evident, as well as the urgent humanitarian needs of those affected.

It is reported that over 300 people have been killed in the worst hit South department alone, according to Civil Protection authorities. The number of deaths will likely increase.

Thousands have lost their homes. Official data shows that in the departments of the South and Grand Anse, 29,000 homes have been destroyed. Across the southeastern Haiti vast areas are flooded and more people could lose their homes.

Jean Claude Fignole, program director of Oxfam in Haiti, said: "We fear that the numbers are going to increase considerably as emergency teams advance. What is most urgent now is to provide safe water to prevent disease, as well as food and essential supplies. In the longer term we fear a jump in cholera, and malnutrition due to crop loss. Mobilization of the international community in support of the Haitian people is urgently needed.

"Oxfam teams are beginning to distribute aid in the towns of Saint Louis du Sud, Maniche, Les Cayes and Cavaillon, which are among the most affected by the hurricane. Hygiene kits and water purification tablets to prevent diseases such as cholera or diarrhea, and also construction material, are being handed out. Oxfam will also repair or install water tanks.

"In Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, many have also suffered the consequences of Hurricane Matthew, but to a lesser extent.

"Marcele Duby, who lives in the Truitier neighborhood in Port-au-Prince said to Oxfam: "If it had occurred in the middle of the night I would have lost my children. But it was broad daylight, and so I could save them. The water in the house was up to my waist. I was afraid because if the water had risen a little more we couldn´t have done anything."

60,000 Haitians live in camps in the capital following the 2010 earthquake killed at least 230,000 people. Many of them have lost their scarce belongings due to the hurricane.Many streets in poor neighborhoods of the capital like Ti-Ayiti remain flooded.

Jimmy Leys, a resident of Ti-Ayiti, said: "Children are going to fall sick because flooding causes epidemics. Some pregnant women are already ill. Diarrhea and malaria are diseases well known here."

Oxfam calls on the international community to step in and support an immediate humanitarian response. The Haitian government, local and international organizations all have to work together to save lives. Lost harvests and continued flooding makes those most affected vulnerable to a food and health crisis that needs to be prevented.

Contact information

Tania Escamilla in Mexico: +52 1 55 41813147 / skype: tanyaescamilla.oxfam / tania.escamilla@oxfaminternational.org

Melanie Gallant in Ottawa: 613-240-3047 / skype: melgalla / melanie.gallant@oxfam.ca

For updates, please follow @OxfamCanada and @OxfaminHaiti.