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Haiti moves from emergency to emergency
November 02, 2010

Haiti moves from emergency to emergency
In the small village of Jurve, Haiti, a young child is seen crossing one of the canals of the Artibonite River, identified as the contaminated source of a recent outbreak of cholera. The cholera has so far claimed 250 lives and affected over 2,500 people in Haiti’s Artibonite region. (UN Photo/Sophia Paris)
On October 30th JRS visited the border city of Belladere. Cholera has created a strong tension between the two sides: Haitians feel humiliated, and Dominicans are afraid of being infected. On Monday, the Domincan Republic closed the border crossing at Belladere / Elias Pinas for Haitians. Dominicans in the border area have a fear of contact with Haitians and so will not accept any goods from Haiti. Haitians understandably feel humiliated by the rejection of their products.

by Jesuit Refugee Service – Haiti

(Port au Prince, Haiti) Nov. 2, 2010 – As of last Wednesday, the Haitian health ministry has confirmed 4,649 hospitalizations and 305 deaths due to cholera, with cases having been confirmed in three of the country’s 10 departments – Artibonite, Central and North.

The situation in Haiti remains of great concern to Jesuit Refugee Service. JRS – Haiti continues to question the response of the Haitian government insofar as: making available potable water services to the people in the cholera zone and other regions; imposing safe consumption guidelines; water quality guidelines for water sold by roadside vendors across the country; and regulating where latrines are allowed to be emptied. 

Many of the measures announced by the Health Ministry appear to have been applied only in the areas most affected by cholera. The leaders of the committees of the seven camps managed by JRS for people displaced by the January earthquake have expressed interest in starting their own plan for cholera prevention and healthy living standards. JRS – Haiti is providing incentive and materials needed to perform the work of cleaning latrines without the people doing the cleaning endangering their health.

JRS – Haiti continues to carry out a prevention campaign by distributing oral rehydration salts and advising people on how to protect themselves from cholera patients without stigmatizing the patients. JRS – Haiti is also encouraging people not to hide information if they experience cholera symptoms or diarrhea; one of the reasons for death is that when patients arrive at health centers their dehydration status is very advanced.

On October 30th JRS visited the border city of Belladere. Cholera has created a strong tension between the two sides: Haitians feel humiliated, and Dominicans are afraid of being infected. While there have been no cases of cholera there, the residents have been working hard to prevent an outbreak as the main market here attracts people from the area of Artibonite and St. Marc where most of the affected population lives. On Monday, the Domincan Republic closed the border crossing at Belladere / Elias Pinas for Haitians. Dominicans in the border area have a fear of contact with Haitians and so will not accept any goods from Haiti.

Haitians understandably feel humiliated by the rejection of their products. Additionally, many merchants who have their products stored in warehouses on the Dominican side fear that their belongings are plundered by the Dominicans themselves with the excuse of cholera.The tension continues in the northern border area of Ounaminthe. The Dominican government closed the border and increased their military presence in the area. They look for and drive out all Haitians who are without a visa or passport. 

Meanwhile, a hurricane approaches. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti is preparing to help up to half a million people in the impoverished Caribbean nation who could potentially be affected by Hurricane Tomas. "This storm could not have come at a more difficult time," said Nigel Fisher, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Haiti. "Although we have made some extensive preparations and prepositioned stocks across the country, some crucial supplies have been badly depleted by ongoing needs, particularly the response to the ongoing cholera epidemic."

Haiti becomes increasingly vulnerable. On September 24 there was a tornado that affected thousands of people in the camps and destroyed thousands of shops in the camps. Since October 19 the cholera has affected many people in the Artibonite and Saint Marc and threatens not only the rest of the country but the Dominican Republic. And a hurricane is closing in. Thus Haiti moves from emergency to emergency. 





Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
communications@jrsusa.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946