Port de Paix (Fides Service) - “Yet another calamity, on a scene of poverty, precariousness, social unbalances” Jean Lucien, of Caritas Haiti said in a statement sent to Fides. Jean has just returned from Gonaïves, where the situation is “terrible: dead people and dead animals and desperation among the survivors who have nothing to eat”. Last week, immediately following cyclone Ivan, tropical storm Jeanne hit various parts of Haiti, highlands, plains and coastal areas in north and south Artibonite. Three waterways burst their banks: the river Quinte at Gonaïves and rivers of Haut du Cap and Nord Ouest.
Haiti, the poorest country in central America and the Caribbean, still struggling with the consequences of a political-social crisis, suffers from regular flooding also due to considerable damage to the environment caused by deforestation in the past. The whole of the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and the United States are affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. In effect, according to the local Caritas, the Dominican Republic also felt the effects of Jeanne.
Medicine, clean water and food are the primary needs on which Caritas is focussing its efforts, working with the Bishop of Gonaïves to bring immediate relief to the people. Aid structures set up to deal with floods in May this year were used again for this new emergency. One most important task was to retrieve the bodies of the dead under layers of mud and debris covering homes. The whole area is a muddy field and rescue work is difficult. Kits of emergency supplies prepared by Caritas Haiti in the capital Port-au-Prince were distributed in the affected areas. Since Monday 20 September a co-ordination team has been working hard.
Caritas Italy in solidarity with the local Church and people in Haiti has launched an appeal for funds to support the work of Caritas Internationalis network. The Italian Bishops’ Conference has offered one million Euro towards the aid effort, calling on local churches and communities “to support the different initiatives of solidarity including that of Caritas Italy”. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 24/9/2004; Righe 27, Parole 374)