What You Need To Know About The Tragedy In Haiti And How You Can Help

There is a world in crisis right now, including Haiti.

Human Interest

Despite an ongoing global pandemic, other countries are in severe chaos and crisis. Afghanistan is under the control of the Taliban. Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis as a civil war continues. Somalia is threatened by food insecurity with thousands of children at risk of acute malnutrition. In Bangladesh, a four-year refugee crisis continues with no hope for a resolution. And in Haiti, thousands of people have lost their lives and homes to a massive earthquake.

Major news outlets have focused their attention on events in Afghanistan and so have other countries by offering relief to the Afghan people by opening their borders to accept refugees or donate money.

But what about Haiti?

Known as the Republic of NGOs (non-government organizations), Haiti has been plagued with political crises and natural disasters throughout its history. In 2010, a 7.0 earthquake destroyed the country's infrastructure, and 10 years later the Haitian people are still recovering from the lasting effects. NPR reports, Haiti was in crisis before Moïses assassination – facing political instability, a cholera epidemic, foreign political meddling, and gang violence. In July of this year, it was reported by multiple news outlets that Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home leaving the country without a president.

And on August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. Two days later, Hurricane Grace flooded the country in the same region the earthquake struck.

Richard Pierrin/Getty Images

The recent earthquake has left more than 12,200 people injured. More than 50,000 homes were destroyed and 77,000 were damaged. More than 2,200 people have died and 344 people are still missing. And more than 800,000 people have been affected by the earthquake. Several hospitals have been damaged leaving a shortage of doctors to attend to survivors.

The Haitian people need shelter, clean water, sanitation, emergency healthcare, food, and protection.

According to an article from Reuters, providing relief to Haiti has been complicated due to the country's current political state, gang-controlled roads, flash flooding, and landslides. Though the United Nations and other countries have provided humanitarian aid to Haiti to support relief efforts, the Haitian people do not trust their government with the funding based on what happened in 2010. You might recall the Red Cross raised half a billion dollars to help Haiti rebuild. In 2015, NPR reported there were no new roads, schools, or homes.

NPR and ProPublica conducted an investigation to search for the missing $500 million. The investigation revealed a string of debatable events – poorly managed projects, questionable spending, and false claims of success. After the review of hundreds of internal documents, emails, and interviews with Red Cross officials, it was found that only six permanent homes were built in Haiti. And until this day, no one knows what happened to the missing funds.

Richard Pierrin/Getty Images

Despite the past uncoordinated relief efforts, acting Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry promises he would do a better job in the disbursement of humanitarian aid. In an article by USA Today, Henry says:

"My government does not intend to repeat history on the mismanagement and coordination of aid. I will personally ensure that help reaches the real victims."

Several news outlets have reported though aid is being sent to Haiti, the Haitian people are frustrated with the timeliness of the delivery. This is because of the lack of security to transport supplies and damaged roads.

However, humanitarian aid has been able to travel to affected areas of Haiti with a recent truce between local gangs. Local Haitian gangs have been encouraged to help where they can by showing solidarity and sharing resources. The article further stated that the problem with many aid agencies is they don't provide people with what they need. Christy Delafield of Mercy Corps stated:

"Once you get past shelter issue, which is almost universal, then you get more specific needs. One household needs to replace a wheelchair, another may have lost livestock. We try to give people what they actually need. The best way to do that is to provide emergency cash."

With that said, this is how the United States and others are working together to help Haiti.

What The U.S. Is Doing To Help Haiti's Relief Efforts

Richard Pierrin/Getty Images

According to an article from USAID (Agency for International Development), the United States government has mobilized to help the Haitian government and people. Under the direction of President Biden, a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) was deployed to Haiti. DART is a 97-person team that is working with other U.S. interagency and humanitarian partners to coordinate and expand relief operations. This includes search and rescue operations to locate earthquake survivors. USAID has disbursed 160,000 pounds of food aid, built field hospitals, and flown more than 400 injured Haitians to Port-au-Prince for medical treatment.

The U.S. Coast Guard is currently in Haiti and has provided air support by transporting 143 medical staff, search and rescue teams and 6,800 pounds of medical supplies to affected areas of Haiti. Additionally, the U.S. has pledged $32 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti earthquake victims to help fund shelters, food aid, and medical assistance. And the U.S. Navy and Marines have joined disaster relief efforts by conducting 56 missions, assisting in saving 40 lives, and delivering 35,000 goods, supplies, and medical supplies.

How Other Countries & Organizations Are Helping

As of August 25, the United Nations (UN) and partners have launched an appeal to provide $187.3 million to provide relief assistance. However, The UN Central Emergency Response Fund has made $8 million readily available to assist with on-the-ground support. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) issued $15 million for the primary needs of the Haitian people.

According to an article by Relief Web, France has deployed its military ship to transport cargo and 25 soldiers to Haiti. France's Civil Security Force has offered to provide a water purification unit equipped with a team of 40 people and 22 tons of equipment. Pope Francis also sent $200,000 euros in charity funds to support recovery efforts in Haiti.

How Celebrities Are Stepping Up To Help Haiti

Actors, singers, and athletes are coming together to help Haiti. Revolt TV reported that hip-hop artist Future announced a benefit concert that is scheduled for September 3 in Miami, Florida. Other celebrities Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donated $40,000 for response and recovery efforts. Naomi Osaka, who is also of Haitian descent plans to give the prize money for a tennis tournament to relief efforts in Haiti. Cardi B tweeted, "I got a soft spot for Haiti and its people. They my cousins. I pray for Haiti they go thru soo much. God, please cover that land and its people." Actor Sean Penn flew to Haiti on August 25 to help earthquake victims through his disaster relief organization CORE.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also partnered with humanitarian organizations through their nonprofit Archwell Foundation. They have supported relief efforts by providing daily nutritious meals to hospitals and shelters. And Haiti's native son Wyclef Jean took to his Instagram and released a call-to-action for people to help his home country stating:

"I encourage everybody – everybody and everybody – please do your part so we can help the country. As we move forward in the world of climate change, let us rethink how we can protect our country, even if it means relocating the population to different parts of the island."

What You Can Do To Help Haiti

Funds are currently available to stabilize the situation and provide short-term solutions. But what Haiti needs is strong homes, strong neighborhoods, and kids back in schools. This was the response from CORE co-founder Ann Lee when CNN's Anderson Cooper posed the question about what we can do to help. Lee further stated sustainable funding is needed to make an impact on Haiti.

With that said, here are nine non-profit organizations we can donate to:

  1. World Central Kitchen
  2. Hope For Haiti
  3. SOIL
  5. Project Hope
  6. Doctors Without Borders
  7. CORE
  8. Mercy Corps
  9. Partners In Health

We seem to live in a world exhausted by endless chaos and crisis, but the journey to recovery is even longer. We are still in this global pandemic together. What the people of Haiti need right now the most is long-term support to rebuild their country. And we can do this by supporting our neighbors in the fight for their homes, their health, and livelihood.

Featured image by Richard Pierrin/Getty Images

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