Haiti: MSF teams find villages completely flooded and population stranded with no help one month after cyclones
3 October 2008
Port-au-Prince - A month after the last cyclones hit Haiti, Médecins Sans Frontières medical teams have found a whole village completely submerged and its 2,400 inhabitants stranded with no help. On Tuesday, September 30, MSF teams managed to reach Mamont, a set of villages southeast of Gonaives in the Artibonite region, with an original population of about 17,000 people that had been totally isolated for the last four weeks. They found the village still partially submerged with water spilling over from a lake lately formed by the tropical storms. The population is cut from all major towns, the road being also immersed by the lake. The population has been without clean water, sufficient food or medical care for weeks. The MSF teams are currently providing assistance to these people and calls for other organisations to assist as quickly as possible. Although international attention has largely moved on from the emergency in Haiti, the example of the town of Mamont shows that emergency assistance remains critical for some parts of the country. In the Gonaives area, concrete measures for getting the victims of the cyclones back on their feet are slow to materialise; there remains a lack of access to clean water, problems with sanitation, and a shortage of the most basic goods. There is the risk of diseases spreading and MSF is worried about the repeated expulsions of displaced people from places where they found temporary shelter. For several days the authorities have been pushing for the evacuation of classrooms in before the start of the new school term on Monday, October 6. The situation is similar in churches, where congregations want to clean their building, resume their worship and are pushing those sheltering inside to leave. The cathedral in Gonaives, where more then 200 people found refuge, was emptied two weeks ago; some of the displaced moved to a camp of 65 tents in Praville, where conditions are unacceptable. In the area of K-soleil, more than 800 people were evicted from their shelter and had no option than to camp in their ravaged houses or sleep under a piece of cardboard. People who were asked to leave the Church of the Christian Union, numbering some 500 following the floods, had to relocate to the university where now over 200 of them remain without even minimal hygiene facilities. And as the Parc Vincent area, heavily affected by the disaster, is gradually being cleaned up, large numbers of families will find themselves in a few days with no choice but to sleep in the street after being forced out of their shelters. Today, hundreds of families are left without a place to stay and without any means to rebuild their lives, as neither the authorities nor international organisations present in Gonaives have provided alternative shelter. MSF teams have also assessed needs in the northwest of Haiti, in the central Artibonite region, and in the south of the country. While interventions are not currently required in the areas visited, the teams have provided some health structures with drugs and materials and have carried out medical consultations. A nutritional surveillance system has also been established in the northwest region and assessments have been carried out in the northeast and southeast areas of the country in relation to food insecurity.