2016-10-27 19:34:00

Caritas launches appeal not to abandon the people of Haiti

(Vatican Radio) In Haiti, over 2.1 million people were affected by Hurricane Matthew at the end of last month when torrential downpours and strong winds felled trees, swept away people and animals, and destroyed up to 90 percent of homes in some areas of the southwestern peninsula.

Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church’s humanitarian agency is on the ground focusing on ensuring Haitians have food, clean water and hygiene items and shelter. 

It has launched an international appeal for 250,000 euros in the attempt to provide assistance to the most vulnerable and isolated who have been affected by the disaster. 

Clean water is in short supply and poor sanitation threatens to trigger another outbreak of cholera, a disease that has killed some 10,000 since the 2010 earthquake.

Caritas Internationalis Secretary General, Michel Roy, has just returned from the stricken nation and spoke to Vatican Radio’s Marie Duhamel about the situation:


Michel Roy describes a scene of utter devastation: “The trees are destroyed, the crops are destroyed, the animals were killed, you don’t see any birds – that feels very strange – so there is silence, and the fact that the trees that are still standing have lost all their leaves means that when it is raining the water falls straight to the ground creating floods, and when the sun is burning, it directly burns onto the soil and this will create problems for the future”.

He says the devastation is greater than he expected and greater even than reported by the media or by the Haitian government.
Roy says the people of Haiti seem almost resigned. He says they are very resilient because they are accustomed to facing problems. He says they are people of great dignity and they are surviving.

He says they are in need of food but they are also asking for tarpaulins and for corrugated iron so they can rebuild their houses. He adds that it is necessary and urgent that the land be cleaned and sanitized and points out that there are pockets where cholera is affecting some areas.

“What Caritas is doing is bringing food, utensils, medicine to the existing health centers, and hygiene kits. But it is far from enough” he says.

Roy says people are also asking for seeds they will be able to plant once the land has been cleaned – and this he says – means they are looking to the future and want to rebuild their lives. 

The Caritas Internationalis Secretary General says more help is needed from the international community and he says “we are going to raise the issue with the United Nations because there is a real big need”.

He says there are inhabitants in the areas in the southwest, where the cyclone hit hardest, who are suffering a real famine.

“There is a real need to refocus on the region, not to abandon the people there. Of course the media spoke about it and we could see pictures in the papers in the days that followed the cyclone, but now it is no more on the news” he says.

Finally, Roy says, people have told him the situation is as dire as the situation after the earthquake in 2010 “so you can imagine the depth of the tragedy for the people living there”.

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