Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) expresses its solidarity with communities affected by Hurricane Matthew, a powerful Category 4 storm that sustained winds of 235 km/h. Matthew violently struck the southwestern districts or “departments” of Haiti on 4 October before moving on to the eastern part of Cuba, the Bahamas, and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States.
The damage wreaked by Hurricane Matthew was especially severe in Haiti, where many people lost their lives and their livelihoods and now face months and years of hardship and rebuilding.
Impact on Haiti
According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2.1 million people in Haiti were affected by Hurricane Matthew, including 473 confirmed deaths (expected to rise much higher). More than 1.4 million of these people need humanitarian aid and 750,000 require urgent assistance. In affected rural areas, crops have been completely wiped out or severely damaged. There has already been an alarming spike in cholera cases. Some 112,500 children are at risk of acute malnutrition and at least 106,250 children cannot return to school because of the destruction. The Jesuit agency Foi et Joie Haiti (Fe y Alegria/Faith and Joy) reports that 12 of the 17 schools it runs in Haiti are located in the areas most affected by the hurricane.
The Xavier Network (of which CJI is a member) emphasizes that the humanitarian situation in Haiti was already precarious before the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. Major problems included food insecurity resulting from drought, the persistence of cholera, a migration crisis due to the forced and voluntary return of thousands of Haitians from the Dominican Republic, and the ongoing needs of 60,000 Haitians still displaced by the 2010 earthquake. In addition, Haitians have continued to face significant governance and development difficulties. They live with high insecurity, widespread poverty, acute economic inequality, inadequate health care, environmental degradation, and poor access to safe water and sanitation.
CJI and partners’ response
At the international level, CJI is coordinating its response with the Xavier Network (XN), which has members in Australia, Europe and Canada. XN has already activated its emergency protocol in Haiti to assess the damage, raise funds and mobilize resources. At the local level, CJI is working closely with Foi et Joie Haiti through XN.
Foi et Joie’s first two phases are as follows. The emergency phase includes:
- Distribution of food, hygiene and and construction kits
- Back to school campaign, and distribution of school materials
The early recovery phase includes:
- School rehabilitation: repairing and rebuilding damaged educational spaces to ensure local children and youth can return to their schools as quickly as possible
- Livelihoods: giving support to affected communities and families to recover their livelihoods, especially in the agricultural sector
CJI also wants to acknowledge the response of the Jesuit Province of French Canada, which includes Haiti — please see “Ouragan Matthew en Haïti.” As well, we recognize the importance of the Government of Canada’s response.