After four major tropical storms battered the Haitian city of Gonaives in less than four weeks, rescue teams are struggling to deliver aid as the humanitarian catastrophe continues to unfold in the area.
Hurricane Hannah’s fury killed more than 500 people on September 2. Six days later, another 66 people were killed in Hurricane Ike.
In the past three weeks, more than 600 Haitiens have died in four major tropical storms – Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike. According to UN estimates, at least 80,000 people are in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
“The entire country has been affected,” Haitian President René Préval told FRANCE 24’s journalists in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. “This has brought us back five years in terms of development,” he added.
The city of Gonaives, 150 kms north of Port-au-Prince, is worst affected. Rescue teams are struggling to deliver food and drinking water as the humanitarian catastrophe continues to unfold in the area.
As seen from a helicopter, almost half of the corn and rice growing in the fields is under water – a major challenge for a country already struggling to meet food requirements. “Agriculture was very badly affected,” said Préval. “We must also find the means to bring them food and medicine too because there is a risk of epidemics.”
Préval also said that there was an urgent need to repair the country’s infrastructure to enable communication with all the affected areas and provide access the populations.
The UN has been flying in aid from Port-au-Prince to Gonaives to help thousands of stranded residents in the storm-stricken region.
The UN is also planning to call for the creation of emergency funds while the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent appealed for donations to raise 2. 4 million euros.
France announced it would double its aid to Haiti in 2008 to 4 million euros.
“Internationally, there has been a huge mobilisation and we are happy to see that France is very sensitive to what's happening in Haiti,” said Préval.
Date created : 2008-09-09