UN Extends Haiti Mission By Nine Months

In this file photo taken on December 20, 2019, people walk on the deserted road ahead of gang shootings in downtown, Port-au-Prince. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

 

The United Nations Security Council extended the UN mission in Haiti by nine months on Friday after an 11th-hour compromise was struck between western powers and China.

The council passed a resolution extending the mandate by less than the one year that the United States had sought but more than the six months Beijing wanted.

The proposal was passed unanimously by 15 votes to zero.

The vote came shortly after 6:00 pm (2200 GMT), just hours before the political mission was due to expire, extending it to 15 July 2022.

Haiti is currently in the grip of a deep political, economic, social, and security crisis.

READ ALSO: NEC Proposes Psychiatric Evaluation, Drug Tests For Police, Army Before Enlistment

It has not had a sitting parliament for more than a year and a half amid disputes, with the country put under one-man rule by President Jovenel Moise, who was assassinated in July.

Beijing had signaled it would veto a US draft extending the mandate by a year.

China had drafted its own text proposing a six-month extension before Friday’s latest iteration was agreed.

In the end, they agreed on nine months with a provision that the Secretary General would conduct an assessment after six months.

“BINUH” was established in October 2019 following the end of 15 years of UN peacekeeping operations and has been a frequent source of contention between Washington and Beijing.

Its mandate includes strengthening political stability and good governance.

China has frequently said that there should be no external solutions to Haiti’s problems but UN diplomats say it wants to punish Haiti for its recognition of Taiwan.

Earlier this month, the UN Security Council accepted that Haiti’s elections will be delayed until the second half of 2022.

The United States, the most influential foreign player in Haiti, had earlier pushed for elections to go ahead this year to restore democratic legitimacy amid a power vacuum.

Haiti’s troubles, including a devastating earthquake, have led tens of thousands to flee, with images of horseback US border guards roughly rounding up Haitians generating outrage in the United States.

AFP

US Envoy To Haiti Resigns, Slams Migrant Deportations

Daniel Foote. Photo: Drew Angerer/AFP

 

 

The US special envoy to Haiti resigned Thursday two months after his appointment, denouncing the Biden administration’s deportation of Haitian migrants from the US-Mexico border back to their poverty-stricken homeland. 

“I will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti,” State Department envoy Daniel Foote said in a scathing letter of resignation.

In the letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Foote described Haiti as a place where US diplomats “are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

“Mired in poverty, hostage to the terror,” Foote wrote, the Haitian population “simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy.”

“More refugees will fuel further desperation and crime,” he wrote.

The resignation came after the administration of President Joe Biden began last weekend loading Haitian migrants who crossed into the country from Mexico onto aircraft and flying them back to haiti.

Many of the thousands who crossed the border actually travelled from South America, where some said they fled to years ago from the grinding poverty and violence of Haiti.

Thousands at the US border 

Well over 10,000 migrants, the largest part of them Haitian, flowed into the Texas border city of Del Rio in recent weeks seeking to remain in the United States.

Footage of the migrants, many of them families, massing under a highway bridge and moving back and forth to Mexico for food, have stunned America and sparked a fresh crisis over migrant policy.

Biden came under strong criticism after photographs and videos showed mounted Border Patrol officers using their horses to try and control the migrants, with some appearing to threaten migrants with their horses’ long reins.

That has led to calls from Biden’s own Democratic party to give the Haitians asylum rather than fly them back to Haiti.

On Wednesday Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was in talks with Brazil, Chile and other South American countries to send the migrants back to them.

Tens of thousands of Haitians fled to South America after the massive 2010 earthquake wreaked heavy damage across the Caribbean nation.

Foote said in his letter that Haiti needs more assistance and a democratically chosen government, after the July assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

“What our Haitian friends really want, and need, is the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favored candidates but with genuine support for that course,” he said.

‘We’re Desperate’: Haitian Migrants’ Hopes Fade At US Border

Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico on September 21, 2021.  (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP)

 

 

Clinging to ropes, some carrying children on their shoulders, Haitian migrants stranded at the US border cross the Rio Grande back into Mexico in search of food, water or medical treatment.

With US authorities deporting planeloads of Haitians back to their crisis-wracked country from Texas, the migrants’ fears that their long and treacherous journey was in vain are mounting.

“We’re desperate,” said 28-year-old Maximil Marcadieu, who spent nearly two months traveling from Chile where he was living, only to find himself stuck with thousands of others in a dusty camp under a bridge.

“Many people dream of going to the United States and now they’re deporting everyone,” he said.

The United Nations said Tuesday that it was “seriously concerned” about the mass US deportations of Haitian migrants, warning that people with genuine asylum claims may be in danger.

The migrants also risk being picked up by the Mexican authorities when they venture into Ciudad Acuna across the border from Del Rio, Texas.

But many take the chance to look for somewhere to rest, something to eat or treatment for their medical ailments.

Tens of thousands of undocumented migrants, mostly Haitians, have arrived in recent months in southern Mexico, heading north in search of a new life in the United States.

Those who manage to cross Mexico without being detained find only disappointment at the US border.

The Haitians have been mistakenly told that they will be able to stay in the United States as refugees under “temporary protected status” (TPS), US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday.

TPS has been in place for years for Haitians who were stuck in the United States after the massive earthquake of 2010.

After political turmoil sparked by the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, the United States extended TPS for Haitians who were in the country on or before July 29.

 

Haitian migrants are seen at a shelter in Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico, on September 21, 2021.  (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP)

 

– ‘Want to live together’ –
Marcadieu said that he left Chile with his wife and two-year-old daughter and traveled through Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.

The journey included a four-day trek through the lawless jungle of the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia that has claimed the lives of some migrants.

After coming so far, the risk of being deported by the United States is not enough to deter Marcadieu from trying to cross the last border in his way.

“I have family there in the United States, and Haitians always want to live together — that’s why I left Chile,” he told AFP while visiting Ciudad Acuna to look for food.

Volunteers from organizations including medical aid group Doctors Without Borders offer assistance at a park next to the Rio Grande, where several dozen immigrants have set up another camp.

People also arrive in cars and trucks to sell food, water or soft drinks to the migrants.

US authorities pledged to investigate reports that Haitians may have been abused by border patrol officers on horseback while crossing the Rio Grande river to look for something to eat.

 

A girl cries as she has her hair combed at a shelter where Haitian migrants are gathered in Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico, on September 21, 2021.  (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP)

 

Pictures and video footage that spread quickly over social media appeared to show riders swinging their long reins to threaten migrants and push them back toward the river.

The Haitians, some carrying food on their heads, cross the Rio Grande holding onto ropes that allow them to wade through apparently calm waters that can sometimes hide strong currents.

 

Haitian migrants cross the Rio Grande river to get food and water in Mexico, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, Mexico on September 21, 2021. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP)

 

When the water level rises, border agents close the river crossing.

Elvinson Saintil, 16, traveled from Chile with his parents and three siblings but is nervous about what fate awaits them.

“They say they’re also deporting families and pregnant women,” he said. “We are afraid.”

Desperate Haitians Rush Aid Convoys After Quake

A man throws a bag of rice into a crowd of earthquake victims gathered for the distribution of food and water at the “4 Chemins” crossroads in Les Cayes, Haiti on August 20, 2021.(Photo by Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP)

 

 

 

Survivors of Haiti’s devastating earthquake looted an aid convoy Friday as the impoverished Caribbean nation scrambled to roll out a relief effort haunted by the chaotic response to past natural disasters. 

The mobbing of relief supplies and tumultuous handouts underscored the desperation in the wake of last week’s powerful tremor, which killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed or damaged over 130,000 homes.

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake robbed tens of thousands of Haitians of everything they owned in a matter of seconds, with the hunt for necessities like clean water and food now a daily struggle for many.

And while humanitarian convoys have begun distributing aid, the quantities have been insufficient and those tasked with delivering supplies often lack logistical expertise.

Chaotic scenes were captured by an AFP photographer Friday in Les Cayes, one of the hardest-hit cities, as bags of rice were handed out to clamoring crowds.

Looters were able to storm one of two supply trucks before law enforcement intervened, according to the photographer, with the remaining goods haphazardly handed out at the local police station.

Desperate Haitians have had to rely on the generosity of their neighbors and relatives, many of whom have little to spare.

“I have a friend who came from (the capital) Port-au-Prince to bring me water and food and I shared that with my neighbors. He also gave me some clothes,” said Marcel Francois, a father of two who was dragged from the rubble in the wake of the quake after three hours buried under concrete.

From the ruins of his house on the road connecting Les Cayes to the airport, he now has a front-row seat to the recovery effort.

“I see a lot of authorities marching, processions of officials with their sirens and big cars from NGOs. Aid trucks also pass, but there has been nothing arriving for me,” the 30-year-old said.

– ‘No one has come to help us’ –
Even before last week’s powerful earthquake, Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, was wracked by mounting Covid-19 cases and a political crisis that culminated last month with the assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

The nation is also still reeling from the 2010 earthquake that rattled the capital and killed over 200,000.

More than 1.5 million Haitians were left homeless by that disaster, and scores of survivors spent years living in tents contending with a deadly cholera epidemic, despite billions of dollars in foreign donations and pledged aid.

In an echo of that earlier tragedy, officials have tried to once again buoy optimism with promises to “build back better”.

“We have seen an incredible moment of unity in the response to the earthquake, so we believe that this can be turned into an opportunity to rebuild towards the better,” UN deputy chief Amina Mohammed said Friday after a 24-hour visit.

But the lofty promises ring hollow to victims of the latest crisis to plague Haiti.

Though humanitarian workers have warned against repeating the mistakes that hampered the 2010 response, tent cities are already appearing across vacant lots in urban centers.

And while Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to organise elections as soon as possible, ordinary Haitians are anxious to start receiving aid.

“We live a miserable life,” Wilford Roosvelte, a survivor of the earthquake, told AFP from a football stadium full of tents.

“The ground is flooded because of the rain. This is where people sleep. No one from the authorities has come to help us.”

Death Toll Crosses 2,000 In Quake-Stricken Haiti

Two young men clear a house severely damaged by the earthquake in Chardonnieres, Haiti on August 18, 2021. (Photo by Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP)

 

 

The death toll from a massive earthquake in Haiti soared past 2,000 on Wednesday as relief workers warned of challenges to aid efforts five days after thousands of people were left homeless.

The number of people killed in Saturday’s devastating quake has risen by almost 250 to 2,189, the country’s civil protection agency said.

“There are around 600,000 people who were directly affected and who need immediate humanitarian assistance,” said Jerry Chandler, speaking from the emergency operations center in the capital Port-au-Prince.

“We had to find ways of ensuring security, which remains a significant challenge.”

 

A young man seriously injured by the earthquake lies on a bed at the “Communautaire de Référence” hospital in Port-Salut in Port-Salut, Haiti on August 18, 2021. (Photo by Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP)

 

The quake also injured at least 12,268 people and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of buildings in the Caribbean nation, which has still not recovered from the devastating earthquake of 2010.

On Tuesday, many Haitians left with no shelter by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake had to endure lashing winds and pouring rain as Tropical Storm Grace passed over the country.

Even before the powerful earthquake, Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, was wracked by a mounting Covid-19 crisis and political chaos that culminated last month with the assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

And while gang violence plagued the poverty-stricken neighbourhood of Martissant near the capital in the weeks since early June, that threat appears to have diminished for now with an informal truce in place, easing fears that gun violence could impact the flow of convoys out of Port-au-Prince.

 

People make repairs and create shelter, after spending the night outside in the aftermath of the earthquake, facing the severe inclement weather of Tropical Storm Grace near Les Cayes, Haiti on August 17, 2021. (Photo by Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP)

 

– ‘In ruins’ –
But relief workers still face other challenges.

“Sometimes we’ve been confronted by frustrated and impatient people, who have caused problems and blocked our convoys,” Chandler said.

The government has declared a month-long state of emergency in the four provinces impacted by the latest quake.

In the hard-to-reach area of Maniche some 120 miles from the capital, residents are still waiting for aid.

“The institutions we used to have … are in ruins,” local resident Rose Hurguelle Point du Jour said, adding that the church, parish and clinic have all been totally destroyed.

Another resident, Geordany Bellevue, fears for people living in remote and landlocked parts of Maniche.

“There were a lot of mudslides in the mountains that injured and killed a lot of people. Some are missing and we don’t have the means to go find them,” the 32-year-old said.

“It was already hard to get aid here in the center of Maniche, so when it comes, it never reaches the disaster victims in the remote areas.”

Haiti’s civil protection agency said Wednesday that at least 332 people are still missing.

 

A young boy lies with his bandaged foot injured in the earthquake at the Ofatma hospital in Les Cayes, Haiti on August 17, 2021. q1-* (Photo by Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP)

Meanwhile, aid agency USAID, which has been leading US relief efforts, said in a statement on Wednesday that “many roads remain impassable in some areas.”

The agency added that it and its partners have relied on air and sea routes to reach some victims, including supporting the World Food Programme’s barge service “to deliver relief supplies and personnel to southwestern Haiti.”

Earthquake, Storm And Floods Add To Haiti’s Misery

A bulldozer clears the rubble of a building that collapsed in the earthquake in Brefet, a neighborhood of Les Cayes, Haiti, on August 17, 2021. 
Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP

 

 

The death toll from a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti has risen to 1,941, the Caribbean nation’s civil protection agency said Tuesday, as a tropical storm brought torrential downpours on survivors already coping with catastrophe.

More than 9,900 people were wounded when the quake struck the southwestern part of the Caribbean nation on Saturday, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the west of the capital Port-au-Prince, according to the updated toll.

With more than 60,000 homes destroyed and 76,000 damaged, the United Nations’ children’s agency UNICEF said that more than half a million children have been affected by the disaster.

In the coastal town of Les Cayes, residents began building makeshift shelters on a football field despite lashing winds and pouring rain as Tropical Storm Grace passed over the country.

So few structures remained standing that people had to relieve themselves in city streets, according to Magalie Cadet, 41, who only had a shower cap to protect against the rain.

Aftershocks continued to rock the ground in Les Cayes days after the quake, further terrifying the residents.

“Yesterday evening, I took shelter near a church, but when I heard the ground shake again, I ran to return here,” said Cadet.

The government has declared a month-long state of emergency in the four provinces affected by the quake.

Rescue workers have pulled out 34 people alive from the rubble in the past 48 hours, authorities said.

The United States, which has evacuated about 40 people for emergency treatment, has chartered eight military helicopters from Honduras to continue medical evacuation efforts.

The USS Arlington, a US Navy transport ship, is also due to arrive in Haiti on Wednesday with a surgical team on board, the Pentagon’s Southern Command said. Field operating theaters are also being set up at some hospitals in the earthquake zone.

Rather be ‘wet than dead’

 

People gather after spending the night outside in the aftermath of the earthquake, facing the severe inclement weather of Tropical Storm Grace near Les Cayes, Haiti on August 17, 2021. 
Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP

 

The US National Hurricane Center warned of flash and urban flooding, and possible mudslides as Grace lashed the impoverished country with up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain.

Haiti officials warned residents to watch out for buildings that are showing cracks from the earthquake because they could collapse under the weight of water.

Despite the rain, drinking water was running short. In the coastal community of Pestel, over 1,800 cisterns with drinking water have cracked or been destroyed in the quake.

In 2010, in the aftermath of a horrific earthquake that killed 200,000 people, Haiti saw a deadly cholera outbreak caused by sewage from a United Nations base.

Natacha Lormira tried to build a shelter for herself using a torn piece of tarp attached to a thin piece of wood.

“I don’t want to hide under a gallery or under a corner of a wall because we have seen people die under wall panels,” said Lormira. “We have resigned ourselves that it’s easier to be wet than dead.”

Government ‘not helping’

 

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 16: A woman raises her hands in prayer during a faith vigil for victims of an earthquake in Haiti at the steps of St. Jerome’s Roman Catholic Church on August 16, 2021 in the Little Caribbean neighborhood of Brooklyn borough in New York City.  Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images/AFP
Michael M. Santiago / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

 

Wet from the constant rain, 28-year-old Vladimir Gilles tried to insert several pieces of bamboo deep into the ground to build a cover for his wife and child.

Gilles said he needs some tarp to keep his family dry, but the government “is not helping.”

“My house is destroyed, I have nowhere to sleep,” he said.

On the grounds of the Ofatma hospital in Les Cayes, American soldiers unloaded boxes of equipment before welcoming a severely injured man on a stretcher and a wounded child carried in the arms of a worker from the HERO medical evacuation organization.

“This little boy has a cerebral hemorrhage … If we can help him, he can have a normal childhood, so it makes a difference,” said Carolyn Davies, a nurse from the NGO Canadian Medical Assistance, who arrived in Les Cayes the day after the disaster.

The international support is a relief for the medical team at the hospital in Les Cayes.

But any official rescue efforts in one of the world’s poorest countries are complicated by political chaos raging there a month after the assassination of president Jovenel Moise.

-AFP

Parishioners Killed In Quake-Damaged Historic Haiti Church

Quake-damaged Immaculee Conception church, Haiti.

 

 

Its bell tower and yellow walls a sharp contrast with Haiti’s blue tropical sky, the historic Immaculee Conception church was the pride of Les Anglais, until it was destroyed by an earthquake Saturday, burying several faithful inside.

On August 14, at exactly 8:29 am (1229 GMT), a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southern Haiti, reducing the church’s facade and steeple to a pile of rubble in seconds.

At least 17 people were crushed to death by the collapsing wall and roof.

“I had just finished celebrating the 6:30 am morning mass and had entered the presbytery to have coffee before returning to celebrate baptisms” when the quake struck, said parish priest Wilson Exantus Andre.

“The oldest of the deceased was 24 years old. What is hard is that a woman who has only two children, 18 years old and 3 years old, lost them both,” the priest, still in shock, told AFP on Monday.

The bodies of all of the victims were pulled out of the ruins of the church.

The massive quake killed more than 1,400 people across Haiti, according to a preliminary official toll reported on Monday.

– Just seconds –
“It was a beautiful church with very beautiful architecture,” said the priest. “It was part of the national heritage, it was the pride of the people of Les Anglais, who never missed an opportunity to talk about it.”

But in just a few seconds, the church, built in 1907, was destroyed.

Only part of the nave and the corrugated iron roof withstood the earthquake and its incessant aftershocks. Some of the church’s wooden benches were covered in piles of stones that used to be the steeple.

Two people trapped under the rubble were rescued with help from heavy equipment rushed in by workers with a Taiwanese construction company that happened to be working nearby, the priest said.

The survivors were taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Port-a-Piment.

Stunned residents of the coastal hamlet exchanged stories of what they lost in the quake outside the church ruins on Monday.

“It’s a tragedy really, we can’t believe how it all fell so quickly,” one of them said.

They each spoke of relatives killed during the disaster, as nearby a lone child’s shoe, black in color but now covered in white dust, lay in the church square.

Haiti Earthquake: Death Toll Surpasses 1,200

This handout image courtesy of the US Coast Guard shows a deployed Air Station Clearwater Jayhawk helicopter crew medevacs a citizen in Haiti, August 15, 2021. 
Erik VILLA RODRIGUEZ / US COAST GUARD / AFP

 

The death toll from Haiti’s powerful earthquake jumped to over 1,200 on Sunday, as crews desperately dug through collapsed buildings for survivors in the Caribbean nation still reeling from its president’s assassination.

In Les Cayes, as in other hard-hit cities on the southwestern peninsula, most of the population spent the night sleeping outdoors in front of their houses — or what remained of them — amid fears of new aftershocks.

The streets there were filled with the grinding of heavy equipment lifting debris from collapsed buildings, as well as the quieter sounds of people pulling away rubble by hand while searching for the missing.

“Thanks to God and also to my phone, I’m alive,” said Marcel Francois, who was rescued from his collapsed two-story home in Les Cayes.

 

A destroyed building is seen in Les Cayes on August 15, 2021, after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the southwest peninsula of the country. Hunched on benches, curled up in chairs or even lying the floor, those injured in the powerful earthquake that wreaked havoc on Haiti on Saturday crowded an overburdened hospital near the epicenter. 
Stanley LOUIS / AFP

 

His younger brother Job Francois said a desperate-sounding Marcel had called to say, “‘Come save me, I’m under the concrete’… He told me he couldn’t breathe, that he was dying.”

The neighbors and Job spent hours freeing him and his 10-year-old daughter from the heavy debris.

At least 1,297 people were killed in the 7.2-magnitude quake that struck Saturday about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the west of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince, which was devastated in a massive 2010 quake.

Some 13,600 buildings were destroyed and more than 13,700 damaged, trapping hundreds under rubble and leaving more than 5,700 people injured, the country’s civil protection agency said in an update.

 President assassinated

 

An injured woman rests on a bed at a hospital in Les Cayes on August 15, 2021, after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the southwest peninsula of the country. 
Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP

 

Rescuers faced new pressure with Tropical Depression Grace approaching, raising fears of torrential rainfall, flash floods and mudslides from late Monday, according to the US National Weather Service.

The United States and other nations have pledged to help Haiti cope with this latest disaster.

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke with Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Sunday and said the United States was “already putting resources in place” to bolster the country’s emergency response, spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

USAID head Samantha Power tweeted Sunday that her agency had deployed a 65-person urban search and rescue team — equipped with “specialized tools, equipment & medical supplies” — to join an earthquake disaster response team already in Haiti.

US Southern Command said it established a joint military task force for Haiti on Sunday and deployed a team to the country to assess impacted areas with aerial surveillance. Four helicopters were also dispatched to provide airlift support.

Haiti’s neighbor the Dominican Republic said it was shipping 10,000 food rations and medical equipment. Mexico also sent an aid shipment. Cuba and Ecuador dispatched medical or search-and-rescue teams.

Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Venezuela also offered help, as did the United Nations.

 

An injured woman has her neck braced by a doctor at a hospital in Les Cayes on August 15, 2021, after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck the southwest peninsula of the country. 
Reginald LOUISSAINT JR / AFP

 

“We want to plan a better-adapted response than in 2010 after the earthquake — all aid coming from abroad should be coordinated by the Civil Protection agency,” said Henry.

A 7.0-magnitude quake in January 2010 left much of Port-au-Prince and nearby cities in ruins, killing more than 200,000.

More than 1.5 million Haitians were made homeless in that disaster, which also destroyed 60 percent of Haiti’s healthcare system, leaving authorities and the international humanitarian community with a colossal challenge.

The latest quake comes just over a month after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiraling gang violence, and Covid-19.

-AFP

Haiti Quake Kills At Least 304, Searches For Survivors Begin

People search through the rubble of what used to be the Manguier Hotel after the earthquake hit on August 14, 2021 in Les Cayes, southwest Haiti.  Stanley LOUIS / AFP

 

Rescue workers were scrambling to find survivors after a powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing at least 304 and toppling buildings in the disaster-plagued Caribbean nation still recovering from a devastating 2010 quake.

The epicenter of the shaking, which rattled homes and sent terrified locals fleeing for safety starting around 8:30 am (1230 GMT) Saturday, was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) by road west of the center of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince.

Churches, businesses, schools and homes crumbled in the quake that trapped hundreds of victims under rubble and left at least 1,800 people injured, the country’s civil protection agency said.

Rescuers raced against the clock to find survivors, with the civil protection tweeting that efforts by “both professional rescuers and members of the public have led to many people being pulled from the rubble,” adding that already overburdened hospitals continue to receive injured.

Hours after the quake, the agency announced the death toll had jumped to 304, ticking upwards throughout the day from a first report of 29 fatalities.

The long initial quake was felt in much of the Caribbean, emanating from the epicenter at Haiti’s southwestern peninsula.

The civil protection said at least 160 people were killed in the country’s South department alone.

“Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital,” 21-year-old Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicenter, told AFP.

Hospitals in the regions hardest hit by the quake were already struggling to provide emergency care and at least three were completely full, according to Jerry Chandler, head of the civil protection agency.


READ ALSO: Haitian Presidential Security Chief Arrested Over Assassination

READ ALSO: Deadly 7.2-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Haiti


State of emergency 

The “Petit Pas” hotel is seen damaged by the earthquake on August 14, 2021 in Les Cayes, southwest Haiti. Stanley LOUIS / AFP

 

The health ministry quickly dispatched personnel and medicine to the southwestern peninsula, but their arrival could be hampered by insecurity that has for months plagued the poorest country in the Americas.

The United States and other nations swiftly pledged support to the crisis-wracked country, with US President Joe Biden approving “immediate” aid efforts and Haiti’s neighbor Dominican Republic shipping 10,000 food rations and medical equipment.

A medical brigade of 253 Cuban doctors deployed in Haiti was traveling to treat the injured and adapt a Port-au-Prince hospital until now used for Covid patients, their head said on Cuban television.

In Ecuador, Quito Fire Department said it was preparing to send a team of 34 personnel specialized in urban search and rescue. Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Venezuela also offered help while Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Haitians “can count on the support of Spain to come through this terrible event.”

Tennis star Naomi Osaka, whose father is Haitian, said she was going to donate her prize money from an upcoming tournament to help quake victims.

“Really hurts to see all the devastation that’s going on in Haiti, and I feel like we really can’t catch a break,” Osaka wrote on Twitter.

Images circulated on social media showed people frantically trying to pull people from the ruins of caved-in buildings, while screaming bystanders sought safety in the streets outside their homes.

“Houses and their surrounding walls have collapsed. The roof of the cathedral has fallen down,” resident Job Joseph told AFP from the hard-hit city of Jeremie on Haiti’s far western end.

Heavy damage was reported in the center of the city, which is home to around 200,000 people and composed primarily of single-story residences and buildings.

The damage in the city of Les Cayes appeared to be significant, including the collapse of a multi-story hotel.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who surveyed the damage via helicopter, declared a state of emergency for one month while calling on the nation to “show solidarity” and not panic.

‘People are terrified’ 

People search through the rubble of what used to be the Manguier Hotel after the earthquake hit on August 14, 2021 in Les Cayes, southwest Haiti. Stanley LOUIS / AFP

 

Shortly after the quake, the US Geological Survey issued a tsunami alert, but lifted the warning soon after.

Jeremie resident Tamas Jean Pierre said the possibility of a tsunami nonetheless sent parents “fleeing the city with their children in arms.”

“People are terrified,” she said.

A 7.0-magnitude quake in January 2010 left much of Port-au-Prince and nearby cities in ruins, killing more than 200,000 and injuring some 300,000 others.

More than 1.5 million Haitians were made homeless, leaving island authorities and the international humanitarian community with a colossal challenge.

Besides hundreds of thousands of homes, the quake also destroyed administrative buildings and schools, not to mention 60 percent of Haiti’s health care system.

The rebuilding of the country’s main hospital remains incomplete, and non-governmental organizations have struggled to make up for the state’s many deficiencies.

The latest quake comes just over a month after president Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiraling gang violence and Covid-19.

AFP

Deadly 7.2-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Haiti

Haiti is a Caribbean country that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic to its east.
Haiti is a Caribbean country that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic to its east.

 

A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, causing several deaths and toppling buildings in the disaster-plagued Caribbean nation still recovering from a devastating 2010 quake.

The epicenter of the quake, which shook homes and sent people scrambling for protection, was about 100 miles (160 kilometers) by road from the center of the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince.

“Lots of homes are destroyed, people are dead and some are at the hospital,” Christella Saint Hilaire, who lives near the epicenter, told AFP. “Everyone is in the street now and the shocks keep coming.”

The long, initial shock was felt in much of the Caribbean. It damaged schools as well as homes on Haiti’s southwestern peninsula, according to images from witnesses.

“I can confirm there are deaths, but I don’t yet have an exact toll,” said Jerry Chandler, who heads the country’s civil protection agency.

Residents shared images on social media of the ruins of concrete buildings, including a church in which a ceremony was apparently underway on Saturday in the southwestern town of Les Anglais.

The USGS issued a tsunami warning, saying waves of up to three meters (nearly 10 feet) were possible along the coastline of Haiti, but it soon lifted the warning.

A magnitude-7.0 quake in January 2010 transformed much of Port-au-Prince and nearby cities into dusty ruins, killing more than 200,000 and injuring some 300,000 others.

More than a million and a half Haitians were made homeless, leaving island authorities and the international humanitarian community with a colossal challenge in a country lacking either a land registry or building codes.

The quake destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, as well as administrative buildings and schools, not to mention 60 percent of Haiti’s health-care system.

The rebuilding of the country’s main hospital remains incomplete, and nongovernmental organizations have struggled to make up for the state’s many deficiencies.

The latest quake comes just over a month after President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in his home by a team of gunmen, shaking a country already battling poverty, spiraling gang violence and Covid-19.

Police say they have arrested 44 people in connection with the killing, including 12 Haitian police officers, 18 Colombians who were allegedly part of the commando team, and two Americans of Haitian descent.

The head of Moise’s security detail is among those detained in connection with the plot allegedly organized by a group of Haitians with foreign ties.

Police have issued wanted-persons notices for several other people, including a judge from Haiti’s highest court, a former senator and a businessman.

Moise had been ruling the impoverished and disaster-plagued nation by decree, as gang violence spiked and Covid-19 spread.

 

AFP

Wife Of Slain Haiti President Says Killers Left Her For Dead

Martine Moïse grieves during the funeral for her husband, slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, on July 23, 2021, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, the main city in his native northern region. – Moïse, 53, was shot dead in his home in the early hours of July 7. (Photo by Valerie BAERISWYL / AFP)

 

 

The wife of Haiti’s murdered president, seriously wounded in the very attack that killed her husband, listened in terror as the gunmen ransacked their home, she said in her first interview since the assassination.

The killers eventually found what they were looking for in president Jovenel Moise’s residence, and made cursory efforts on their way out to see if first lady Martine Moise was still alive.

“When they left, they thought I was dead,” she told the New York Times in an interview published Friday, weeks after the July 7 assassination that heaped a fresh crisis on the fragile Caribbean nation.

She survived and was rushed for emergency treatment to the United States, where she spoke to the newspaper while flanked by security guards, diplomats and family.

Martine is left wondering what happened to the 30 to 50 men usually posted to guard her husband at the house. None of those guards were killed, or even wounded.

“Only the oligarchs and the system could kill him,” she said.

Haitian police have arrested the head of Jovenel Moise’s security, as well as some 20 Colombian mercenaries, over the plot they say was organized by a group of Haitians with foreign ties.

 

(FILES) In this file photo Haitian President Jovenel Moise stands with his wife after receiving his sash during his Inauguration, at the Haitian Parliament in Port-au-Prince, on February 7, 2017.  (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)

 

Jovenel Moise had been ruling the impoverished and disaster-plagued nation by decree, as gang violence spiked and Covid-19 spread.

His widow told the New York Times that the couple had been asleep when the sound of gunfire woke them.

He called his security team for help, but soon the killers were shooting in the bedroom. She was struck in the hand and elbow.

As she lay bleeding, her husband dead or dying in the same room, she felt like she was suffocating because her mouth was so full of blood.

The killers spoke only Spanish — Haiti’s languages are Creole and French — and were communicating by phone with someone while they carried out the attack.

She said she doesn’t know what the assassins took, but that it came from a shelf where her husband kept his files.

Martine Moise wants the killers to know she is not afraid and is seriously considering a run for the presidency once she is healthy.

“I would like people who did this to be caught, otherwise they will kill every single president who takes power,” she said. “They did it once. They will do it again.”

Haitian Presidential Security Chief Arrested Over Assassination

Mourners attend the funeral of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moïse on July 23, 2021, in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, the main city in his native northern region. – Moïse, 53, was shot dead in his home in the early hours of July 7. (Photo by Valerie Baeriswyl / AFP)

 

 

Haitian police said Monday they had arrested the head of Jovenel Moise’s security as part of the ongoing investigation into the president’s July 7 assassination. 

Security chief Jean Laguel Civil is suspected of involvement in the plot that saw Moise killed at his home in the middle of the night by armed commandos who bypassed the president’s guards without firing a shot.

Civil had already been placed in solitary confinement at a prison in Delmas, near Port-au-Prince.

“I can confirm that Jean Laguel Civil was arrested Monday by police as part of the investigation into the assassination of president Jovenel Moise,” police spokeswoman Marie Michelle Verrier told AFP.

Port-au-Prince commissioner Bed-Ford Claude had already ordered immigration authorities to prohibit four police officers who were responsible for Moise’s security from leaving the country.

Police on Monday also issued a warrant for Wendelle Coq Thelot, a judge for the highest court in the country who had been fired by Moise.

Details of the assassination remain unclear, but newly installed Prime Minister Ariel Henry has promised to bring Moise’s killers to justice.

Police have arrested some 20 Colombian mercenaries as part of the plot they say was organized by a group of Haitians with foreign ties.