Haiti Earthquake: Death Toll Rising As Regional And International Countries Pledge Support

Nearly 1,300 people are now confirmed dead in Haiti from Saturday's devastating 7.2 earthquake

Photos: Twitter

Nearly 1,300 people are now confirmed dead in Haiti from Saturday’s devastating 7.2 earthquake—and to make matters worse, Tropical Depression Grace is predicted to hit Haiti on Monday night.

The epicenter of the quake was 78 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince and was felt 200 miles away in Jamaica. Prime Minister Ariel Henry has declared a state of emergency in a country that is still reeling from last month’s assassination of President Jovenel Moïse.

“The most important thing is to recover as many survivors as possible under the rubble,” said Henry. “We have learned that the local hospitals, in particular that of Les Cayes, are overwhelmed with wounded, fractured people.The needs are enormous. We must take care of the injured and fractured, but also provide food, aid, temporary shelter and psychological support.”

International aid agencies like UNICEF are said to be sending humanitarian aid and President Joe Biden authorized a response naming USAID Administrator Samantha Power to oversee the U.S effort. USAID has sent a 65-member team with specialized equipment and aid supplies.

Some countries in the region are now in the process of deploying assistance, particularly Cuba which has sent a 253-member health care team. Caribbean organizations like CARICOM (Caribbean Countries) and OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) have also pledged their support.

The OECS released the following statement Sunday:

‘The Authority of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) stands in solidarity with the Government and people of Haiti following the devastating earthquake which has left hundreds dead, hundreds more injured and many buried under rubble.

“Awakening to news this morning of continued aftershocks overnight and into this morning, we are saddened by the magnitude of this unfolding disaster. The OECS Authority extends deepest sympathy to the people of Haiti at this time, particularly to those in the affected area who have experienced the loss and devastation firsthand.

“The OECS Authority assures the Government and people of Haiti, of our full and unwavering support.

“We recognise that the scope of Haiti’s needs at this time is quite extensive, and we therefore call for concerted humanitarian action at the international level to bring much-needed and immediate relief to the people of Haiti.

“An obvious urgent need is that of disaster resilient housing that will provide a more secure option for those most in need, improving their chances of escaping the devastation caused by hurricanes and earthquakes. It is our hope that given the availability of technology to enable such, the provision of disaster resilient housing will be one of the long-term response mechanisms launched in the aftermath of this disaster.”

CARICOM released the following statement Monday:

“The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is deeply saddened at reports of loss of life and significant damage in Haiti following a major earthquake on Saturday, 14 August.

“The Chairman of CARICOM, the Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda has held discussions with the Prime Minister of Haiti, the Honourable Ariel Henry and has assured him that CARICOM stands ready to assist.

“Prime Minister Browne extended his sympathy to Prime Minister Henry and to the people of Haiti on the loss of life, and expressed his wishes for a full and speedy recovery of the injured.

“Homes, other buildings and infrastructure have been destroyed, particularly in the southwestern cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is in contact with Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency which is assessing the damage.”

The recently created House Haiti Caucus, along with co-Chairs Representatives Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Andy Levin (MI-09) and Val Demings (FL-10) and Mondaire Jones (NY-17) released this statement:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti, especially in the Department of Nippes and the nearby cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie, as well as any others in surrounding countries affected by the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck near the town of Petit Trou de Nippes early this morning,” said the Chairs of the Congressional Haiti Caucus. “This earthquake could not have come at a worse time for the people of Haiti; the nation is in the throes of a political crisis, the effects of the compounding COVID-19 pandemic, and is still recovering from the disastrous earthquake that hit the island’s southern peninsula more than a decade ago. We remain committed to championing adequate aid to the region, supporting bilateral relations and policies that will ensure Haiti’s full economic and political recovery, and the emergence of a durable, Haitian-led democracy.”

In May, on Haitian Flag Day, Reps. Pressley, Levin, Clarke and Demings announced the formation of the House Haiti Caucus, a Congressional caucus dedicated to pursuing a just foreign policy that puts the needs and aspirations of the Haitian people first.

In July, the lawmakers issued a statement condemning the assassination of President Moïse and calling for swift and decisive action to bring political stability and peace to Haiti and the Haitian people.

And in New York Attorney General Letitia James and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams both issued statements on the dire situation in Haiti.

“The situation unfolding in Haiti right now is devastating and deeply concerning,” said James. “Over the past few weeks, the Haitian people have endured so much pain and suffering, and today, they have been rocked by yet another disaster. We must do all we can to support the Haitian people both in the immediate aftermath of this earthquake and in the months to come. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti and our Haitian communities here in New York.”

“The people of Haiti, who have already suffered so much pain and trauma in the last weeks, months and years, are once again reeling in the wake of a devastating natural disaster,” said Williams. “My appreciation and respect for the Haitian people and culture runs as deep as the diaspora’s roots here in New York City. I offer my prayers for peace and comfort to the families of those who have lost their lives, and to everyone in Les Cayes, in Jeremie, on the island and throughout the diaspora still waiting for information on their loved ones as so many lives and livelihoods have been destroyed.

“Together with our prayers, we must provide sustained support. In the past, people and nations have rushed to Haiti’s aid in the immediate moment of crisis, when the headlines are fresh and the cameras are present, only to abandon them in the aftermath and invite future crises. Just five weeks ago the President of Haiti was assassinated, and while that upheaval is ongoing, the world’s attention has not been. This cycle cannot continue. We must come together today, yes, but stay together through recovery and rebuilding. L’Union fait la force.”

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