Haiti is currently grappling with a severe humanitarian crisis after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean nation this past Saturday, killing at least 1,297 people and leaving at least 5,700 injured. Thousands more have also been displaced from their homes by the earthquake which struck the southwestern part of Haiti, about 78 miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Rescuers are still working to find survivors amid the rubble.
At the same time, Haiti is now also bracing for an extreme weather event, as Tropical Depression Grace is expected to hit the island Monday night, threatening to bring steady rainfall, flash floods and landslides.
The country experienced a similarly devastating earthquake in January of 2010, one that left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced. Saturday’s earthquake is reported to be about two times stronger than the one in 2010, according to the United States Geological Survey. But this latest disaster has also come at a time of political instability, rising gang violence and high rates of malnutrition among children, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many who have survived the earthquake are in dire need of medical care, as hospitals in the most affected area are inundated with casualties. And with Haiti still dealing with the effects of Saturday’s earthquake while simultaneously preparing itself for another major natural disaster on the horizon, Haitians can use as much help as it can get during this time.
For people who want to financially contribute to the ongoing relief efforts, there are a number of credible local and international organizations who are mobilizing to provide food, shelter, and medical aid to residents on the ground including:
- Fokal Haiti Relief Fund is gathering funds for smallholder farmers associations, grassroots women’s organizations and small local ethical enterprises on the ground in Haiti.
- Hope for Haiti is helping with wound care and other essential services like clean water for residents.
As aid efforts continue, it’s also important to note who not to give money to during this time. The Red Cross Organization in particular raised almost half a billion dollars for Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, and most of that money is still unaccounted for till this day. A joint investigation by NPR and ProPublica found “a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending, and dubious claims of success.” In one of the more disturbing findings from the investigation, the Red Cross said it had provided homes to more than 130,000 Haitians after the disaster. In reality, the charity had only built a total of six permanent homes.
The United Nations also has a deeply disturbing history of sexual exploitation and abuse in the country, which they acknowledge. In 2019, researchers found that UN peacekeepers had fathered and left behind hundreds of children in Haiti, leaving them to struggle in stigma and poverty.
As of Monday, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a one-month state of emergency for the whole country.