Following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti in the year 2010, more than 220,000 people died, 1.5 million people were displaced, and roughly 300,000 people were injured. As a result, many Haitians migrated to several countries, the chief among them being Brazil, where an estimated 85,000 Haitians arrived between 2010 and 2017. Additionally, between 2010 and 2015, 48,000 Haitians requested asylum, and significant arrivals continued at least through 2019, when nearly 17,000 Haitians sought protection, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI). Haitians who migrated have also increasingly looked to move to other countries including the United States and Chile.
When another earthquake measured at 7.2 magnitude struck Hispaniola Island on August 14th of this year, Haiti was again impacted severely, particularly in the cities of Le Cayes and Jeremie. At least 2,200 people died, more than 12,200 people were injured, and hundreds remain missing.
According to the MPI, social unrest, gang violence, poverty and earthquakes are among multiple reasons reported for the unprecedented migration of Haitians.
Biggest Needs Among Haitian Migrants
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has deployed teams and mobilized resources to Mexico, Honduras, and Colombia. In Colombia alone, more than 21,000 Haitian migrants wait for an opportunity to cross into Panama.
“ADRA is planning an emergency response to help Haitian migrants in those areas,” says Elian Giaccarini, Regional Emergency Coordinator for ADRA in the Inter-American Division. “In Honduras, ADRA is working with local authorities and agencies to operate a hydration station for migrants and provide water, sanitation and hygiene services at support centers catered for migrants. In Mexico, ADRA is conducting assessments in several locations and partnering with the local Adventist church to provide non-food items at temporary shelters in Monterey. Also, in Necocli, Colombia, ADRA plans to distribute hygiene kits for migrants in partnership with a local Adventist church.”
Giaccarini adds that, according to a recent needs report, there are ongoing needs among migrants for access to food, mattresses, blankets, and psychosocial support. Additionally, where temporary shelters have been set up in Colombia and Mexico, critical items such as personal hygiene, portable toilets, and hand-washing facilities are essential.
“ADRA aims to also provide cash and voucher assistance in Mexico, Honduras and Colombia to help Haitians get food and non-food items,” Giaccarini says. “The voucher program would be a temporary way for the people to receive money to buy what they need most for themselves and their families. We are doing all we can because we see [a] need that must be fulfilled. We seek your prayers as our teams work to help so many Haitians in need.”
Ongoing Aid Persists in Haiti
Five weeks after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated south-western Haiti in August, humanitarian relief efforts continue. To date, 46 percent of the affected population in Haiti has received relief assistance, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
“Getting access to rural areas in Haiti remains a challenge due to armed blockades and looting of humanitarian supplies. There are also widespread fuel shortages across the country,” Giaccarini says. “Our priority is to provide life-saving assistance to people impacted in Haiti while keeping staff on the ground safe.”
Giaccarini says that ADRA plans to assist people in Haiti in three phases. In the first phase, which has now been completed, ADRA helped 6,000 people in Les Cayes, Camp-Perrin, and Saint Louis De Sud for over a month by supplying tents, clean water, hygiene, and food kits. In phase two, ADRA is focusing relief efforts on helping 9,600 people in Sud, Nippes and Grand-Anse for two months by providing food and hygiene assistance and medical assistance in partnership with the Haiti Adventist Hospital. In the third phase, ADRA will shift its plans to target schools in Sud, Nippes and Grand-Anse for a six-month period to help rebuild school buildings that collapsed in the earthquake.
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The Adventist Development and Relief Agency is the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church serving in 118 countries. Its work empowers communities and changes lives around the globe by providing sustainable community development and disaster relief. ADRA’s purpose is to serve humanity so all may live as God intended. Learn more at ADRA.org.