Angeline Annesteus, Country Director of ActionAid Haiti, said the quake was higher magnitude than the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people.
“Today brings back the trauma of the 2010 earthquake that tore Haiti apart. This deadly quake has destroyed homes and infrastructure in some of Haiti’s most vulnerable and marginalised communities,” Annesteus said.
“In Jérémie, one of the areas most affected, our team is helping with rescue efforts as families desperately try to pull loved ones from the rubble. Sadly, we expect the death toll to continue to rise.
“We are assessing urgent needs and preparing to respond by providing food, temporary shelter and essential items such as blankets and hygiene kits for women and girls.
“Women and girls are already bearing the brunt of the multiple crises facing Haiti, including rising hunger, political instability and gang violence. The devastating fallout from this earthquake, could push many more families into poverty and hunger.”
ActionAid Australia’s Executive Director, Michelle Higelin said ActionAid’s emergency response will prioritise the protection of women’s rights and supporting women to lead response efforts.
“Women in disasters find the odds stacked against them. Women and their children are 14 times more likely to die in an emergency than men, the risk of violence increases and they bear the heaviest burden of caring for the injured and displaced,” Higelin said.
“Yet women provide enormous leadership when disasters strike, leading evacuation efforts, tending to the injured and searching for clean water, food and shelter for their families.
“ActionAid has been working to support women in Haiti to prepare for and respond disasters for the past five years. By prioritising local women’s leadership in this response, we can ensure that women are included in decision-making processes and that their specific needs and experiences are prioritised.”
ActionAid is aiming to assist at least 2,000 households directly affected by the earthquake with immediate shelter, protection, cash and food assistance. It will also scale up existing food relief in Jérémie and Les Cayes to more than 10,000 families.
ActionAid has launched an emergency appeal to support its humanitarian response in Haiti as part of its global efforts to support women leading crisis response under the Arise Fund.
For more information and interviews call +61422105840 or email [email protected].
Photos by ActionAid staff on the ground in Jérémie are available to download: https://stories.actionaid.org/?c=59816&k=fd4418755b.