By Paisley Dodds and Jessica Alexander for The New Humanitarian.
People ride on a bus through a road partially blocked by rocks from a landslide near Pestel, Haiti, after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake took place on 14 August.
Aid delivery to Haiti’s earthquake-stricken south is slowly improving, but hurdles remain: gangs continue to patrol key transport routes, international freight carriers have raised costs, and snags related to Brexit and COVID-19 are causing lengthy air and shipping delays.
The 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean country’s southern peninsula on 14 August, killing more than 2,200 people, injuring more than 12,000, and delivering another blow to a region that was devastated by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
A humanitarian corridor – negotiated between aid groups and the gangs that have terrorised the capital, Port-au-Prince, in recent years – has allowed aid shipments to move from there to the affected areas in the south, but some relief trucks have still been looted, and clashes have been reported along the border route from the neighbouring Dominican Republic.
More than three weeks after the earthquake, several roads and bridges also remain damaged or blocked following heavy rains and floods triggered by Tropical Depression Grace on 16 and 17 August. The Dumarsais Estime bridge, which provides access to Jérémie – a main southern town – was damaged in the earthquake, making it impassable for trucks. As a result, many aid organisations have had to rely on bringing goods in by sea or air.
“We’ve been given food, but there’s not enough water, and all of us are worried about another tremor coming, or more rains,” Eveline Montas, 45, told The New Humanitarian by telephone. Montas lost her home in the earthquake and now shelters under a tent with her three children in the badly hit southern town of Les Cayes.
Shipping costs of humanitarian aid have also spiked. It used to be between $6,000 and $10,000 to send five pallets of medicine to Haiti, but it now costs more than $23,500 for the equivalent cargo, according to Michael Clout, a logistics officer at UK-based International Health Partners, which works with a handful of partner organisations in Haiti.
Fuel scarcity in Port-au-Prince has also meant that it’s more expensive to import goods, and costlier to transport them once inside the country.Continue reading