In Haiti, political, economic, and social crises have been exacerbating since 2019, plunging the local population into total chaos. The upsurge in gang violence is creating a strong sense of insecurity and forcing many families to take refuge in camps for displaced persons. Fanja Ratsiferana, Haiti Country Director for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, takes stock of the situation on the ground.
Could you tell us about your missions?
My name is Fanja, I’m Malagasy and the mother of three boys. I have over 16 years’ experience in operational coordination of development and emergency programs. Since September, I’ve been working in Haiti as Country Director. I start my day by taking stock of the security situation. The situation in Haiti is very volatile, so this is essential to ensure the team’s safety. I’m responsible for the running of the mission and for humanitarian coordination with various players. One of the constraints being the lack of personnel, we must adapt our actions according to our means.
What is the humanitarian situation in Haiti?
It’s alarming. Conflicts between armed gangs, kidnappings and deaths have all increased. As a result of this insecurity, the population is on the move. The International Organization for Migration estimates that there are between 140,000 and 150,000 internally displaced people in Port-au-Prince and Artibonite. The vulnerability of Haitians is also increasing, more than 5.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
What is SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL doing in Haiti?
We are carrying out food security actions in the neighborhoods around Port-au-Prince. With the return of cholera, we have developed a rapid response to alerts and stepped up our awareness-raising activities. In the camps, we are supplying water to displaced persons and plan to install showers and latrines. Finally, we are rehabilitating water access infrastructures in schools.
What are the difficulties on the ground?
We face many challenges. The presence of gangs limits our movements and actions. The very high rate of inflation adds to the cost of operations. Finally, a series of factors make it difficult to anticipate events. We have to be agile to respond to needs. The danger is present, even if NGOs have so far been spared. It can complicate daily life: our security protocols are restrictive, with curfews and travel limited to the essentials for our expatriate employees. When you come to Haiti, you have to be prepared to live this way.