Thousands of children and their families are at risk of cholera in Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, warns child rights and humanitarian organisation Plan International.
There are already reports of a worsening epidemic, as it becomes increasingly difficult for people to access clean, safe drinking water.
The most powerful Caribbean storm in a decade, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti on October 4 with 145 mile/h (230 km/h) winds, torrential rain, and surging seas that caused widespread flooding.
It tore down trees, ripped away rooftops and damaged roads and bridges that connect remote communities. Many remain cut off. Hundreds have died. Thousands have been displaced.
Water supplies disrupted
“In the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, the most pressing needs of people in Haiti are for food and water,” said Marie Therese Frederique Jean Pierre – Country Director for Plan International in Haiti.
“Access to clean water is extremely scarce, and families in remote areas are particularly badly affected because they rely on hand pumps or wells to get safe drinking water, which were badly damaged by the hurricane.
“Given this lack of drinkable water, the risk of diarrhoea and cholera is extremely high. Children are especially vulnerable to these types of diseases, so we are particularly concerned for them.”
Plan International to support 100,000
Plan International’s response will target 100,000 people – almost half of them children. Today will see the first distributions being made, with food and water, sleeping kits, hygiene kits and housing materials being given to those most in need.
Ms Jean Pierre added: “In the communities we’ve managed to reach so far we’ve already been reminding people of the need to carry out safe hygiene and water treatment practices, but it is extremely difficult when they have such limited resources.
“Their homes have been destroyed, their livelihoods ruined and it is incredibly hard for people to keep going. There are also still periods of rain, which are adding to the difficulties people are faced with.
“We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground and expand our humanitarian assistance in further areas if there are found to be large unmet needs.”
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