GOAL has been engaging regularly with the UN Security Council for the past eighteen months as heavily armed gangs and anarchy have descended on the streets of Port-au-Prince, following the catastrophic earthquake that struck the Southern Peninsula in Haiti in Aug 2021 and the assassination of Haitian President, Jovenel Moise in July 2021. GOAL has been providing humanitarian aid programmes in Haiti since 2010 and now remains one of only two international aid agencies who, in partnership with community-based organisations, has access to the most dangerous, high risk and vulnerable neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince, including Bas-Delmas, Cite Soleil, and Carrefour.
Last week, the Journal.ie reported that armed gangs are blocking distribution of goods from Haiti’s main port in Port-au-Prince. Coupled with fuel shortages, this is also driving food shortages and an extreme hunger crisis on the streets of Port-au-Prince. Then in early October 2022, the Ministry for Population and Public Health (MSPP) in Haiti announced a resurgence of cholera cases after the last epidemic, which was declared in 2010, killed more than 10,000 people, affected at least 800,000, and continued until 2019. The Ministry further advised on 4th Nov, that the suspected number of cholera cases across Haiti was 5,800 and that the number of Cholera cases is forecast to increase dramatically to 100 cases per day within the next three months.
Speaking about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Haiti, amid this period of intense political unrest, Paul d’Anglejan, GOAL Country Director in Haiti said: “The return of cholera is a major threat for Haiti, amid significant levels of insecurity and civil unrest. The cholera threat is also heightened because of a lack of access to clean water for a large portion of the population, lack of basic sanitation facilities in communities, including open defecation practices and a health system which is in a precarious state.”
“But GOAL is uniquely positioned to respond to this crisis. Our network of over 200 community-based organisations have granted us access to some of Port-au-Prince’s most dangerous neighbourhoods and we are supporting UN agencies and facilitating their access to these communities too so they can carry out life-saving protection interventions. GOAL is currently working alongside the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), Haiti’s national water authority, and the Ministry for Health,” continued Paul d’Anglejan.
Speaking about the response to the cholera outbreak, Bernard McCaul, LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) Regional Director for GOAL said: “We have significant expertise and operational capacity to respond to infectious diseases outbreaks like the cholera outbreak in Haiti, in support of the Haitian Ministry for Health and National Directorate for Potable Water and Sanitation (DINEPA). We have already established a community-based epidemic surveillance system and are reporting on suspected and confirmed cholera cases in communities that we have access to, and we are analysing water quality consumed by households.”
“We are also conducting WASH (Water and Sanitation Health) activities including distribution of cholera kits, chlorination of existing water points, repairs to public water and sanitation facilities, and decontamination of households who have been in contact with cholera. To complement these interventions, GOAL is also assessing overall WASH infrastructure needs by reviewing the functionality of handwashing stations in schools, water point facilities, waste management, sanitation facilities and watershed management, and upgrading these facilities where possible,” continued Bernard McCaul.
Speaking about how the heavily armed gangs have capitalised on the political instability and are deploying a horrific campaign of violence against some of Haiti’s poorest and most vulnerable people, Dieudonne Leroy, Head of Security, LAC Region, GOAL said: “Since the assassination of President Moïse, a vacuum in governance has emerged. No replacement has been elected and without outside intervention from armed forces or UN Peacekeepers, Haiti will be unable to hold a fully democratic election given the current humanitarian climate. GOAL is liaising with representatives from the UN Security Council and Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the UN, to emphasise the importance of additional security support in Haiti.”