More Than 1 Million Haitians Affected by Quake, UN Estimates

The United Nations warned Friday that desperation was growing among hundreds of thousands of Haitian earthquake survivors who have little or no access to the shelter, food, medical care and other essential relief they need.More than 2,000 people have died as a result of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit southwestern Haiti a week ago. The United Nations estimated that more than 1 million people were affected by the latest crisis to hit the Caribbean island state. Tens of thousands of houses have been reduced to rubble, rendering their inhabitants homeless.Aid is slow to reach survivors of the disaster because roads are blocked by debris from the earthquake. Heavy rains and flooding from Tropical Storm Grace also have made it difficult for aid workers to reach people in need.A resident crawls away with a donated bag of rice after residents overtook a truck loaded with earthquake relief supplies, in Vye Terre, Haiti, Aug. 20, 2021.World Food Program official Marianela Gonzales said she was awakened by the earthquake Saturday inside her home in the capital, Port-au-Prince. In the few seconds it took her to realize what was happening, she said, hundreds of people died. Two days later, she headed for Les Cayes, one of the hardest-hit areas.”WFP was here, even before the earthquake, supporting over 200,000 people who cannot even afford any meal per day,” Gonzales said. “So the earthquake happened on the same people. The roof fell on the same people and Tropical Storm Grace rained on the same people for the next few days. … Definitely hard to be here today to enter these hospitals, to see people in the streets without a roof to sleep under, especially children.”Police stand guard near the entrance of a Red Cross center after people entered and took off with several foam mattresses, in Les Cayes, Haiti, Aug. 20, 2021, six days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the area.The WFP estimated 215,000 people in earthquake-hit areas urgently need food assistance. The agency is using air, sea and road routes to transport essential supplies to the affected areas. And a U.N. Humanitarian Air Service helicopter managed by WFP is transporting staff, medical supplies and other essential needs. The agency said it needed $2.5 million for that operation.Other U.N. and private agencies are ramping up their relief efforts. The U.N. children’s fund estimated that children accounted for nearly half of the 1.2 million people affected by the earthquake. The director of the U.N. information service in Geneva, Alessandra Vellucci, said a UNICEF assessment found that 95 of 255 schools were either damaged or destroyed just weeks before classes were to start. “UNICEF is rushing lifesaving supplies including medicine, safe water, hygiene and sanitation material to points in the affected areas even as flooding and mudslides hamper relief efforts,” Vellucci said.UNICEF appealed for $15 million to assist 385,000 people over the next eight weeks.The World Health Organization warned of possible outbreaks of cholera, dengue, meningitis and other infectious diseases and the continued spread of COVID-19. This comes at a time when most hospitals, it said, are overwhelmed with patients and require emergency support and medical supplies and equipment.

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