UN Refugee Agency airlifts vital aid to support Haiti hurricane relief effort
PORT AU PRINCE (UNHCR) – A UNHCR-chartered cargo plane carrying emergency relief supplies including shelter materials and solar lamps for 80,000 people arrived in Port au Prince on Monday as the UN Refugee Agency stepped up efforts to ensure vital humanitarian aid reaches thousands of people in Haiti and the Bahamas still reeling from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew last month.
“The people of Haiti are suffering tremendously,” said Roland Weil, the UNHCR representative in Haiti, who was on hand for delivery of the fresh relief supplies.
“Thousands have lost their homes, and many families are living in terribly overcrowded schools and public buildings. UNHCR is doing its part to provide safer and more dignified living conditions to the people of Haiti as they get back on their feet. We will continue to work closely with the Haitian government, our UN sister agencies, and our national partners to ensure aid reaches those who need it most.”
The airlift includes 16,000 rolls of heavy duty plastic sheeting to provide emergency shelter and more than 8,500 solar lanterns that will enhance the security of vulnerable families currently living without electricity. Set to be delivered to areas most impacted by the hurricane, UNHCR’s assistance will benefit some 80,000 people still residing in temporary shelters.
UNHCR’s delivery is part of a larger, coordinated international aid effort underway for the estimated 1.4 million individuals in need of humanitarian assistance in Haiti.
In the Bahamas, UNHCR is responding to the Government’s appeal for help by working with the Bahamas Red Cross to provide urgently needed relief, including tarpaulin, plastic sheeting, blankets, hygiene kits, and portable stoves to nearly 7,000 people impacted by the hurricane.
“The Bahamas Red Cross is most appreciative of the donation received from UNHCR,” said Caroline Turnquest, Director of the Bahamas Red Cross. “These funds will go towards assisting vulnerable persons impacted by the recent passage of Hurricane Matthew. We thank UNHCR for its partnership, commitment, and support of the work of the Society as together we continue to champion the humanitarian efforts throughout the Bahamas.”
Relief items locally obtained through the support of UNHCR will be distributed to the hardest hit communities across New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Andros Islands.
Hurricane Matthew, a Category Four storm with sustained winds of 146 miles per hour, slammed into southwestern Haiti and the Bahamas from October 4-6, leaving in its wake widespread damage to homes, crops, roads, and buildings, extensive flooding, and forcing many people into temporary shelter.
In Haiti, Matthew triggered the largest humanitarian crisis since the deadly earthquake in 2010. In the Bahamas, Matthew was the first hurricane in more than 50 years to directly hit the capital.
Residents of both countries urgently need humanitarian assistance, including food, drinking water, shelter, emergency medical assistance, and other basic services, including the restoration of electricity.