Humanitarian assistance in Haiti, collateral victim of protests

Two million children have stopped going to class and the number of women giving birth without medical assistance increases, according to the UN


Haiti has been experiencing a cascade of citizen protests for weeks that have forced the closure of public services and further weakened the humanitarian situation in the poorest country in the Latin American and Caribbean region. The UN warns that assistance to “thousands of vulnerable Haitians” is in danger.

The social unrest due to the lack of fuel and food, the devaluation of the currency and the corruption scandals has rekindled criticism against the president, Jovenel Moise, who for now has refused to resign to what are already the worst protests that the country has lived since it came to power in February 2017.

Humanitarian assistance in Haiti, collateral victim of protests
Humanitarian assistance in Haiti, collateral victim of protests

At least 42 people have died and another 86 have been injured by the wave of protests unleashed in mid-September, according to a balance of victims released by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on November 1. The vast majority of the victims had gunshot wounds and the security forces would be responsible for 19 of the 42 deaths.

The High Commissioner is “deeply concerned” about the evolution of the crisis and the impact it has on the basic needs of the population, with roadblocks and violent incidents that have reduced access to food, drinking water, medicines and fuel , especially outside of Port-au-Prince.

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, Fernando Hiraldo, also sees with concern the side effects of the protests in “the most vulnerable”, to the extent that, for example, there are two million children who have stopped going to class . In addition, the World Food Program (WFP) was forced to suspend its school canteen program in mid-September.


Hiraldo estimates in declarations to Europa Press that there are “thousands” of people with little or no access to drinking water due to the lack of fuel for the supply pumping facilities, while at the medical level assistance is also limited. “The number of pregnant women who have given birth outside medical institutions and have not received help from qualified professionals continues to increase,” he warns.

In the departments of Northwest, North, Nipes, Southeast and West, obstetric work is practically paralyzed, with the risk that this entails for a country that registers 25,000 births every month and about 3,700 complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. “The life of women and newborns is in danger,” adds Hiraldo.

In this context, “the humanitarian community does everything it can to ensure the continuity of operations and works together with the authorities to resolve the situation.” The UN collaborates with the Ministry of Health to maintain hospital activity and, as a result of this alliance, 17 centers have already been able to receive enough fuel, medicines and equipment to serve 4.3 million people for a month.

Port and customs activities are paralyzed, which also results in a blockade of humanitarian aid shipments. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) of the UN has also detected a suspicion of private carriers for the insecurity prevailing in the Caribbean country.

Organizations “explore” the possibility of delivering aid by air or sea, since access to certain areas has been affected by roadblocks. “We certainly need to do more and we are contacting all parties to ensure that they are aware and recognize the humanitarian impact of the crisis,” says Hiraldo.


The World Bank estimates that more than half of the Haitian population lives below the poverty line, with less than $ 2.4 a day. The situation could worsen, given the impact that limits can have on the distribution of aid “in the most vulnerable population, especially among those already suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition,” according to Hiraldo.

The humanitarian coordinator warns of “long-term” effects and recalls that disturbances, rising prices and falling agricultural production have already been noted at the food level. The UN estimates that 35 percent of the population needs urgent assistance and the figure could increase to 40 percent in March 2020 if the current trend persists.

“Currently, 3.7 million people suffer from food insecurity, of which one million are at levels considered emergency,” warns Hiraldo, who warns especially of widespread malnutrition among children under five. “Some 19,000 children with malnutrition need urgent assistance,” says the head.

Hiraldo also affects the situation of women, in a country where it is estimated that one in three suffers sexist violence and one in eight is a victim of sexual violence.


Hiraldo rules out that Haiti has been relegated among international emergencies, although he admits that “the current crisis is barely reported and, no doubt, is not making headlines in the international media.” For this reason, he believes that it is time to “work hard” to get attention, given that “lack of funds worries.”

The Humanitarian Response Plan for Haiti was claiming $ 126 million for 2019 with which to provide support to 2.6 million people. However, these needs are only covered by 29 percent, which shows, according to Hiraldo, that Haiti “is clearly lacking in funds” and threatens to become “a forgotten crisis in a global context of growing humanitarian needs and financial resources limited. ”

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