In early June, armed gangs took over the Martissant district in the southwest of the Haitian capital. Bursts of gunfire from automatic weapons, house fires and violent attacks on police stations caused more than 14,000 people to flee to neighbouring communes (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs figures as of 14 June 2021). Most of the displaced people live in gymnasiums and churches and suffer from a serious lack of access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation.
“Displaced people have no choice but to defecate in the open air or on the floors of rooms in these temporary shelters, which have no toilets. Nor can they shower and they urgently need access to drinking water,” said Justine Muzik Piquemal, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s head of activities in Haiti.
Following an assessment of the needs by its local teams, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has decided to intervene at three sites: the sports centre in the town of Carrefour, the community school and the church in Delmas. Our organisation is providing emergency aid to the people who have taken refuge at these sites, thanks in particular to the financial support of StartFund. The displaced populations receive hygiene kits and benefit from a supply of drinking water and the installation and maintenance of latrines and showers.
“We also plan to install solar-powered street lights in the latrines and outdoor shower areas to reduce the risk of sexual violence that those who have been displaced may face when they relieve themselves or wash at night,” she adds.
Our teams are also organising awareness-raising sessions on measures to combat COVID-19, which is spreading dangerously across the country. This situation is all the more worrying because it is unlikely to change in the long term and threatens the humanitarian aid currently being provided in the country. “The gangs control the main road in Martissant, which severely hinders humanitarian actors’ access to the southern half of Haiti,” concludes Justine Muzik Piquemal.
Moreover, the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moïse raises fears of further violence and, consequently, additional humanitarian needs.