Thursday 22 February 2018

Dutch navy delivers aid to hurricane-battered Haiti

Cholera victim Cenelson Lundi, aged just 13 months, receives treatment at the state hospital in Jeremie, Haiti (AP)
Cholera victim Cenelson Lundi, aged just 13 months, receives treatment at the state hospital in Jeremie, Haiti (AP)

The Dutch government is sending a navy ship to Haiti to deliver aid including food, water and temporary shelters in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Haiti's ravaged ports and waterways will also be checked by the vessel to ensure other aid ships can safely dock.

The Dutch defence ministry said the ship is on its way from the Caribbean island of Curacao to Haiti while another ship is being loaded with more supplies.

Matthew's brutal assault on the impoverished nation killed hundreds of people, destroyed tens of thousands of homes, left at least 350,000 people in need of assistance and raised concerns over a surge in cholera cases.

Overseas aid minister Lilianne Ploumen said: "By getting there quickly we can work to prevent a further deterioration in the situation."

Food and medicine is being flown to the devastated south-western region of Haiti by helicopter.

Power is still out, water and food are scarce, and officials say that young men in villages along the road between the hard-hit cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie are putting up blockades of rocks and felled trees to halt convoys of vehicles bringing relief supplies.

"They are seeing these convoys coming through with supplies and they aren't stopping. They are hungry and thirsty and some are getting angry," said Dony St Germain, an official with El Shaddai Ministries International.

A convoy carrying food, water and medications was attacked by gunmen in a remote valley where there had been a mudslide, said Frednel Kedler, the coordinator for the Civil Protection Agency in Grand-Anse.

He said authorities are trying to reach marooned and desperate communities west of Jeremie.

Throughout Haiti's south-western peninsula, people were digging themselves out from the wreckage of the storm.

Guillaume Silvera, a senior official with the Civil Protection Agency in storm-blasted Grand-Anse, which includes Jeremie, said at least 522 deaths were confirmed there alone - not including people in several remote communities still marooned by collapsed roads and bridges.

The National Civil Protection headquarters in Port-au-Prince, meanwhile, said its official death toll for the whole country was 336, which included 191 deaths in Grand-Anse.

People in Port Salut and Les Cayes said little to no aid had reached them by Sunday. Besides food and water, they need clothing and shoes.

The first three of five cargo planes of humanitarian aid from the United States have arrived at Port-au-Prince's airport. They were carrying 480 metric tonnes of relief supplies, including 20,000 hygiene kits, 18,000 sets of kitchen utensils for cooking, 40,000 blankets and 500 rolls of plastic sheeting.

The airstrip in Jeremie is unable to accommodate large cargo planes, so relief is being ferried to the devastated city by helicopter. Three of nine US helicopters had arrived in Jeremie by Sunday, bringing rice and cooking oil, among other things.

Concern is growing over an increase in cholera cases. An ongoing outbreak has already killed roughly 10,000 people and left more than 800,000 ill since 2010.


Press Association

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