If you’ve been watching the news unfold over the last fortnight you’ll be well aware that twelve days ago on the 12th January, a massive earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale tore apart the tiny Caribbean nation of Haiti, devastating the populated district of Carrefour and the capital city Port Au Prince, causing massive widespread destruction to the surrounding areas for miles around.
The quake hit around 10 miles West of Port Au Prince and was followed by two more severe aftershocks that wreaked havoc on the capital city, killing an estimated one hundred and fifty thousand people and injuring countless others.
The devastation that ripped through the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, has bought a nation to its knees and was on an unprecedented scale, the like of which has not been seen for over two hundred years.
Click the image below for an interactive map of the Haiti earthquake zone. Includes layered information on various statistics such as population density, damage zone and an animation showing the key aftershocks that hit the area over the following days.
The catastrophic effects of this earthquake have caused a massive humanitarian crisis in the stricken region, leaving hundreds of thousands of men, women and children homeless with no food, water or medical supplies.
Not only has the destruction taken the lives of many of the population, the situation has been worsened by the destruction of large parts of the country’s infrastructure, making it extremely difficult for aid organisations to mount an effective relief effort to deal with the crisis.
Although the international community’s rescue and aid efforts were initially criticised for being slow to react to the disaster, aid agencies have explained the sheer scale of the devastation and the logistical implications involved in dealing with an earthquake of this magnitude on an island such as Hispaniola, are making the task immensely difficult to cope with.
Apart from taking time for aid workers and supplies to be able to reach the destination, the task of landing hundreds of supply planes a day on the islands’ small and ill equipped airports and runways was only one of the many problems facing the relief agencies as they scrambled to the devastated region. The main port was also heavily damaged meaning larger, more permanent relief vessels could not be docked and only smaller supply ships were able to dock at neighbouring ports.
Getting aid to the people who need it most and distributing vital supplies throughout the affected zones was also made virtually impossible due to the severely damaged infrastructure of the affected areas and the limited resources of the ruined nation.
Co-ordinating the effort was further hampered due to Haiti’s phone, internet and communication systems being down for the first 48 hours after the quake.
A lack of vehicles, fuel, storage facilities and badly damaged roads strewn with vehicles, demolished buildings and thousands of desperate refugees leaving the capital, has made getting aid to those who need an extreme challenge.
Over the last two weeks the relief efforts have gained massive pace in an attempt to bring the worsening situation under control, but the overwhelming need for food, clean water and medical equipment to treat the hundreds of thousands of injuries has meant there are still not enough supplies to go round, the surviving population have been forced to live and deal with unbearable conditions since the disaster struck.
With the situation becoming more desperate by the day, concerns for the security and safety of the aid workers have also been a major problem hampering the distribution efforts.
Severe Shortage of Medical Equipment
Due to the nature of the casualties sustained in an earthquake situation, the majority of injuries involve heavily crushed limbs, resulting in amputation and wounds prone to infection. With a shortage of medical supplies and antibiotics, many operations have had to be carried out without the use of sterile equipment and proper instruments.
Huge numbers of people caught in the quakes have been unable to reach medical centres and receive treatment in time. In these situations even small injuries run the risk of infection leading to gangrene and sepia (blood poisoning). Medical centres have been reporting huge numbers of amputations being performed every day as a last resort to prevent the onset of sepia in the unsavable limbs and other wounds of crush victims.
Amputees then have to return to face unbearable living conditions and deal with the aftermath of the operation, surviving without antibiotics, clean dressings and fresh water.
The disaster is said to have left over 150 000 children orphaned and it is estimated the death toll may reach 200 000 with many more men, women and children still feared dead or missing. Last night the confirmed death toll had already reached 120 000 with agencies believing that many of the dead would have already been buried by their families and relatives soon after discovery.
The crisis has left tens of thousands of families suffering, with loved ones missing and unsure of their future. The earthquake is said to have affected the lives of over three million people in the area.
It is now the 24th Jan and we have been watching the nightmare unfold on our screens for nearly two weeks.
Hundreds of independent charities and aid organisations from around the world are working in the heart of the disaster zone bringing relief to those in need.
Alongside the larger and more widely know charities such as Oxfam, the Red Cross, Unicef and Save The Children etc. there are also many lesser know charities contributing their skills and expertise to the cause, such as Care, Air Serve International and Habitat for Humanity to name a few.
Thousands of volunteers from all over the world have flown to Haiti to help the aid process and collections are being held in towns and cities across the globe.
Although there is now a sustained and co-ordinated relief effort dealing with the situation, it is going to take billions of pounds and many years to return some sort of stability and normality to the area and we all need to individually do our bit to help the effort.
Have you donated yet ?
When disasters of this magnitude strike, we see the nightmare unfold on our screens across the world and are inundated with news bulletins and reports on radio, television and the internet. The shock and horror hits our hearts as we see a nation’s plight and we feel the urge to do something to help. The campaigns for help grow in number and the money starts to roll in.
As the days pass and aid organisations pile in to deal with the situation, we see anarchy and chaos give way to organised chaos and start to hear stories of miraculous rescues and record amounts of cash being donated to the disaster funds.
Viewers subjected to daily broadcasts of suffering and trauma quickly become accustomed to the images they see, and after a couple of weeks news reports start to drift back to matters closer to home, devoting less and less air time to the crisis. The viewing public think ‘Oh well – that’s that sorted then’.
Well it isn’t and won’t be for a long time.
It is easy for us to believe everything is now in place and the situation is under control, with plenty of money and aid available and that we can forget about it and get back to our comfortable lives. Don’t be lulled into thinking it’s over.
The people of Haiti are now facing months of unimaginable physical and psychological suffering due to the damage that has been caused to their nation.
Even with the help the aid the agencies provide, the scale of the disaster is on such a massive scale that they will be dealing with the terrible consequences for years to come, with the final cost to repair the situation running into billions of pounds.
Many of you will have already donated money to the cause over the last twelve days, but for those who are still yet to offer support, your help is still desperately needed and will be for a long time to come.
It doesn’t matter how much you donate, or which program you donate to, as long as you do something to help, no matter how small.
Interaction.org has compiled a list of many of the charities and organisations operating in Haiti. If you would like to help or donate to the cause, please click the link below and visit the listed charities websites.
These agencies all deal with different aspects involved in coping with this disaster and you may find one you choose to support that is closer to your heart.
Click the image below or visit Interaction.org’s relief list page for more detailed explanations of the charities involved and how they are helping the Haitian people in their time of need.
If you would like to donate by phone here are a few ways you can donate by Text or credit card.
Haiti Text-To-Give Numbers
Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross
Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee
Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada
Text YELE to 501501 to donation $5 to Yele
Text HAITI to 864833 to donate $5 to The United Way
Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation
Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International
Text RELIEF to 30644 You will be connected with Catholic Relief Services and instruct you to donate money with your credit card.
As always, amongst the constant reports of doom and gloom emerging from the scenes of destruction, there are always a few miracles that take place amongst the carnage. These scenes of compassion and kindness provide us with a glimmer of hope for the future and show the generosity of the public and the unbreakable nature of the human spirit in times of need.
A nurse and child pulled from the rubble after 4 days
The miracle baby – 3 Week old baby Elizabeth pulled from the rubble after being buried alone for 8 days
The Presidential Palace in Ruins