September 18, 2021

The Catholic Transcript

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Haiti records unrest and despair a week after earthquake

Haiti records unrest and despair a week after earthquake

Tensions escalated in Haiti on Saturday (21) due to a lack of aid to remote areas hard hit by last week’s devastating earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people in the impoverished Caribbean country.

Many Haitians, whose homes and livelihoods were destroyed in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake on August 14, said they don’t even know how to begin rebuilding.

Anger began to escalate as aid was arriving on Friday, with residents attacking aid trucks in several cities in the south of the country.

A conflict also erupted after former president Michel Martelly visited a hospital in the town of Les Cayes, where one of its employees left an envelope of money that sparked violent riots.

“We are concerned about the deteriorating security situation that could disrupt our assistance to vulnerable Haitians,” said Pierre Honorat, head of the United Nations World Food Program in Haiti.

The official death toll from the earthquake reached 2,189, while the number of missing is estimated at 332. Residents of southern rural towns still carry bodies they believe are under the rubble.

On Saturday morning, Haitian and Mexican rescue teams carefully removed layers of concrete from a collapsed house in Les Cayes in search of someone who might still be alive a week after the quake.

On Friday night, the team made an unlikely discovery using sonar equipment that showed signs of possible breathing or movement.

“We’re looking forward to a miracle,” said Luis Alva, one of the Mexican rescue workers working with Rescate Internacional Topos.

Tens of thousands of homes are destroyed, leaving many families with no choice but to sleep outdoors despite torrential storms at night.

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Hurricane season in the Caribbean continues through the end of November, and Prime Minister Ariel Henry has warned residents to prepare for more storms.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Twitter that the aircraft carrier USS Arlington was heading to Haiti with helicopters, a surgical team and a landing vehicle to help with relief efforts.

Several countries, including the United States, have sent relief and rescue teams.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said its first shipment of 9.7 tons of medical supplies, water and hygiene arrived in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Friday, and another 30 tons of supplies are expected in the next few days.