Following their return from a fact-finding visit to Haiti, a group of senior United Nations officials and representatives of NGOs issued an urgent call on Saturday, for increased access and resources to reach people in desperate need.
The call comes amid reports that the situation in Haiti is deteriorating by the day, with citizens facing spiralling violence, human rights, and food emergencies, as well as a cholera epidemic.
The influence of armed gangs is growing exponentially in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and beyond, reaching the Department of Artibonite, the country’s breadbasket. Armed violence – including kidnappings and sexual violence against women and girls – is also surging.
The six senior officials, representing UN aid agencies and international NGOs, met with people who need humanitarian aid, as well as with local and international partners.
They also held talks with Prime Minister Ariel Henry and other senior Government officials, and met with community representatives from areas controlled by, or under the influence of, armed gangs.
“The humanitarian needs in Haiti are unprecedented,” said Sara Bordas Eddy, Chief of the Humanitarian Field Support Section of UNICEF, at the end of the two-day trip. “The suffering of a Haitian child today is not comparable to the suffering of a Haitian child a few years ago. As humanitarians, we are finding ways to reach those in need including in gang-controlled areas. For that to happen in a sustainable way, we also need the donor community to not give up on Haiti.”
Despite the difficulties, the UN and NGO officials noted that the humanitarian response continues to be scaled up, and committed even more support to aid workers on the ground.
“The population feels desperate, but I also saw the resilience and potential of the women and girls who want to help build a better future for their country, communities and families,” said Shoko Arakaki, Director of the Humanitarian Response Division of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). “They need urgent health and psychosocial support, but also livelihood and economic empowerment for recovery.”
This year, the UN and its partners will need $715 million to help more than three million people in Haiti. This is more than double the sum appealed for last year, and the highest amount since the 2010 earthquake.
Also taking part in the visit were Tareq Talahma, the Acting Director of the Operations and Advocacy Division of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Osnat Lubrani, the Acting Director and Head of the Humanitarian Section of UN Women’s Geneva Office, Dominic MacSorley, the Humanitarian Ambassador for Concern Worldwide, and Mark Smith, Vice President of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs of World Vision.
“More than just humanitarian assistance, what the people of Haiti need is peace, security and protection,” said Mr. Talahma “We cannot let Haiti become a forgotten crisis.”