Haiti dodges eye of storm, but camp dwellers still at risk from flooding and disease – Oxfam

Emergencies, Media Releases, News article written on the 26 Aug 2012

Thousands of people living in refugee camps in Haiti remain at risk from flooding and disease, according to international aid agency Oxfam, despite the Caribbean island appearing to have avoided the worst of tropical storm Isaac.

Initial assessments of the aftermath of the storm, which cleared the island’s landmass in the early hours of Saturday morning (25th August) Haiti time, suggest the damage has not been as great as was feared.

There have been media reports of up to four deaths, but there is no evidence at the moment of major damage to infrastructure or significant casualties.

Camps in the capital Port-au-Prince, such as Jean Marie Vincent, have been flooded, as well as towns in the south of the island, including Les Cayes, Jacmel and Nippes. There are reports of electric pylons collapsing and power outages and some disruption on the roads.

However, with exceptionally heavy rainfall forecast in the wake of the storm and with nearly 400,000 Haitians still living in refugee camps after the massive earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince in 2010, people remain highly vulnerable to the threat of flooding, landslides and water borne diseases, especially cholera.

Oxfam emergency teams are now heading out to the affected areas of the island as soon as possible, allowing workers to carry out more in-depth assessments and to provide aid to those who need it in the form of clean water, hygiene kits and public information about sanitation.

Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Operations Manager Meg Quartermaine said it was too early to say the threat was over.

“The storm may have passed but living conditions in Haiti remain so challenging for so much of the population that it’s far too early to say the threat is over. People in Haiti have so little that they are incredibly vulnerable to the risks posed by flooding and disease. They remain in desperate need of our help,” Ms Quartermaine said.

Haiti is often cited as the poorest country in the western hemisphere with four in five of the population living on less than $2 a day.

For more information and interviews please contact:

In Haiti: Pélèg Charles, Port-au-Prince, Haiti +509 37 01 49 33 cpeleg@oxfam.org.uk

In Australia: Louise Perry, 0414 456 015 louisep@oxfam.org.au