Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Govt declares three days of national mourning in Haiti

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Port-au-Prince – Haiti Tuesday declared three days of national mourning in memory of the victims of the powerful earthquake last Saturday that has killed more than 1 400 and injured more than 6 000 with several others reported missing.

The government, which has already declared a month long state of emergency, said that all flags will be flown at half-mast during the period of the national mourning.

The Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince says it had called on the priests responsible for the parish and the various religious communities working in the archdiocese to organize a week of prayer from August 18 to 24 as a show of solidarity with the victims of the earthquake.

It said that throughout this week, the parishes will collect donations for the victims of the earthquake.

The Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Tuesday said it  preparing to deploy the CARICOM Operational Support Team (COST) members into Haiti following an official request for coordination assistance from Haiti’s Department of Civil Protection through the CDEMA Regional Response Mechanism (RRM).

It said that in the first instance, Dr. Virginia Clerveaux, Director of the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, will be deployed to provide direct support to the Emergency Operations Centre in Haiti.

CDEMA said that as of Tuesday, the Civil Protection Department reported upward of 1 419 fatalities, 7 000 injuries, 38 000 destroyed houses and 46 000 damaged houses. It said the most severe impact of this multi-hazard event is being felt in the three southern departments of Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes.

“In the aftermath of the event, we have activated our Regional Coordination Centre and coordination for the provision of support to Haiti has commenced in collaboration with Jamaica, which is the lead for our North-Western Subregion of the CDEMA system,” said CDEMA executive director, Elizabeth Riley.

“We are making the necessary arrangements to get those human resources on the ground as soon as possible following the passage of . . . Tropical Depression Grace,” Riley said, adding that CDEMA had confirmation of financial support from the United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office to ensure that CDEMA is able to deliver such critical surge support to Haiti.

CDEMA said that Haiti has prepared a needs list of humanitarian items, which are available for purchase in the country since Haiti’s capital, Port-Au-Prince, is still operational and commerce is still occurring within the country.

“The government of the Republic of Haiti is currently encouraging cash donations and CDEMA will assist in creating bank accounts to facilitate cash donations for the emergency response efforts into Haiti,” CDEMA added.

United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the earthquake has destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, as well as hospitals and schools, churches, bridges and roads.

He said that a UN team is in Haiti working with the government to help ensure humanitarian aid and personnel can reach people in need and that UN agencies and partners are mobilizing resources and personnel in support of the Government response.

He added that staff from the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams are on their way to support coordination and assessments.

The UN has allocated eight million US dollars from the Central Emergency Response Fund to provide essential health care, clean water, emergency shelter and sanitation for all affected people.

“Today relief convoys reached affected communities in Les Cayes, Jérémie and Nippes. We will continue to scale up our response to the hardest-hit areas even as Tropical Storm Grace approaches Haiti with its threat of heavy rainfall and flash floods.

“As assessments reveal the level of suffering, the scale of humanitarian need in Haiti continues to grow. I call on all member states to mobilise efforts to support Haiti in averting a humanitarian disaster,” Guterres said, adding that his message to the people of Haiti is that “you are not alone.

“We will stand by your side and support you every step of the way out of this crisis.”

Seveeral countries have expressed solidarity with Haiti with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, announcing emergency humanitarian aid of US$500 000 to help the Haitian government meet the immediate challenges.

French President Emmanuel Macron, said “our thoughts are with those who have lost a loved one, who have seen their homes and part of their lives collapse”.

“France will continue to stand by Haiti and its people, and stands ready to lend its support.”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth in a message of condolences to Prime Minister Ariel Henry said she was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake”.

“My thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost their lives, loved ones and homes, as well as the emergency services working in the recovery effort,” she added.

(CMC)

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