“They are hungry”: earthquake survivors in Haiti fear for children’s future

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A motorcycle rolls on a road punctured by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Marceline, Haiti, August 22, 2021. REUTERS / Ricardo Arduengo reuters_tickers

This content was published on August 23, 2021 – 21:11

By Laura Gottesdiener

CAMP-PERRIN, Haiti (Reuters) – Many survivors of an earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people in southern Haiti fear they will support their children, more than half a million minors fearing to be threatened by the fallout.

The August 14 earthquake devastated infrastructure, destroying or damaging some 130,000 homes, cutting roads and plunging thousands of families into the poorest country in the western hemisphere with an uncertain future.

When the magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck, housewife Lovely Jean was resting inside the general hospital in the southern town of Les Cayes, while her three-day-old baby, Love Shaiska, was in the ward. neonatal patient being treated for an infection.

Les Cayes was one of the areas worst hit by the earthquake, and as the hospital walls shook, Jean sent her husband, Pierre Alexandre, to grab the child as she fled the building.

“The earth was shaking and I was crying, so scared of what was going on,” said the 24-year-old, cradling her child on the porch of their damaged home in a small village outside the town of Camp. Perrin, north-west of Les Cayes.

All three survived, though the hospital suffered damage that forced some of its departments, including the neonatal ward, to operate outside for days after the disaster.

But the problems were just beginning for Jean and her husband, a subsistence farmer.

Alexander’s fields were buried by landslides in the earthquake and rains unleashed by Tropical Storm Grace, which hit Haiti last Tuesday. Her entire crop of potatoes and yuca was inaccessible, leaving the family with barely enough to eat.

Meanwhile, Love Shaiska struggled to breastfeed, forcing her parents to raise money to buy formula.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said Alexandre, 30.

More than a dozen other parents who spoke to Reuters in the quake area expressed similar concerns about how they would cope.

More than half a million children were affected by the earthquake, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said.

The earthquake claimed the lives of at least 2,207 people, injured 12,268 more and left 344 missing, Haitian authorities said, and followed an even more destructive earthquake in 2010 that killed dozens of people. thousands of Haitians.

Still, there are some encouraging developments. Late Sunday, civil protection authorities said 24 missing people, including four children, had been found and taken by helicopter to Camp-Perrin for treatment.

Recovery efforts have been hampered by flooding and damage to roads, fueling tensions in hard-hit areas. Over the past few days, locals have looted relief trucks https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/aid-struggles-reach-remote-areas-haiti-quake-zone-2021-08-20 in several towns across the south, raising security concerns.

Deep in the mountains of the southern peninsula of Haiti, in the department of Grand’Anse, near the town of Duchity, a hundred farmers live in thin tents of wooden poles and sheets that they have erected. along the highway. The earthquake destroyed their homes, crops and the deep concrete-lined holes used to collect and store rainwater.

Now, with little food and water, many young children are suffering from hunger, fever and infections, said Evelya Michele, a mother of five living in the camp.

At least a dozen children had had rashes.

“Children are very vulnerable; there is no water, so we can’t even wash them to keep them clean, ”Michele said.

Her older children had left earlier in the morning, walking to a nearby village in search of food.

“I didn’t send them, they just left without even asking me because they’re hungry,” she said.

(Edited by Dave Graham; Edited by Karishma Singh and Howard Goller)


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