On August 14, 2021, an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale struck southern Haiti, killing 2,248 people and injuring 1,263, according to the Haitian Civil Protection. The number of homes destroyed by the earthquake is estimated at 54,000 and those damaged at 83,000 according to Handicap International.
In addition to this terrible toll, a large number of people are missing and there is considerable material damage to infrastructure. This is not the first time that the island has been hit by a disaster of this type. It had already paid a heavy price during the earthquake that hit the capital, Port au Prince, in 2010. Then, in 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit the southern regions that have just suffered the earthquake. "No sooner do we see the end of the tunnel, another one opens before us" summarizes Ewains Weche, Haitian author.
This new natural disaster comes at a critical moment in Haiti's political history. Jovenel Moïse, the President of the Republic, was murdered in unsettled circumstances last July. His death has plunged the country into a political, social and economic crisis. The State, without a leader, is groping, stumbling and getting bogged down while its services are largely deficient in many departments of the island and the gang war is raging, considerably amplifying the logistical difficulties.
In mid-September, one month after the earthquake, the city of Les Cayes has come back to life among the rubble. But the wounds are omnipresent: tents set up on the roadways in place of destroyed houses, makeshift camps on the side of the tracks, piles of rubble and workers clearing away as best they can. The same scenes can be seen in the streets of Jeremie, Pestel and other towns in the south. Here and there, informal camps emerge, forgotten by international humanitarian aid.
Food security is now at the heart of concerns in Haiti as OCHA estimates that approximately 980,000 people in the Grand-Sud (Nippes and Grand'Anse departments) will experience acute levels of food insecurity by February 2022 and that 320,000 people have an urgent need for nutrition. However, life goes on in the affected departments, restructuring and adapting. People are going back to concerts, writing, trying to forget and to live again.
- Tearsheet -
This report was published in the magazine Le Monde des Ados