UN migration agency launches $15 million appeal for Haiti

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Monday launched a $15 million appeal to support some 137,000 families affected by the deadly earthquake that rocked southern Haiti just over a week ago. 

The funding will be used to help the Haitian authorities with housing, temporary shelter, mental health support and COVID-19 prevention in the aftermath of the disaster, which left 2,207 dead and more than 12,000 injured, according to official figures. Nearly 53,000 buildings collapsed, while another 77,000 were severely damaged. 

"For the first months alone, we need at least $15 million to provide housing support, help affected Haitians return to their homes, and ensure they have essential means for subsistence," said Federica Cecchet, IOM's Deputy Head of Mission in Haiti. 

Assessment and support 

The 7.2-magnitude quake struck on 14 August, the latest crisis in a nation where nearly half the population, or 4.4 million people, were already finding it hard to get enough to eat.  Days later, it was followed by Tropical Storm Grace which brought heavy rains, flash floods and landslides. 

Just 48 hours after the quake hit, IOM had set up bases in each of the most affected areas.  The agency now has additional hubs in the cities of Jérémie, Les Cayes and Miragoane. 

IOM is using satellite imagery to analyze damage assessments and has distributed thousands of plastic sheets, hygiene kits, blankets, collapsible jerry cans, and kitchen sets so that affected families can maintain minimum living conditions.  A team of engineers is also supporting structural assessment work in the affected municipalities. 

Underlining that information management was also a priority, Ms. Cecchet said the appeal funds would also be used to generate timely and accurate information on displaced people in the departments of Sud, Grand’Anse and Nippes. 

Prioritizing mental health 

Meanwhile, an IOM team is tracking the movement and needs of affected populations and mapping conditions in shelters, in efforts to facilitate humanitarian programming, and prioritize tasks carried out by aid partners, such as beneficiary selection, logistics planning and identification of specific needs of those in vulnerable situations. 

IOM also wants to provide mental health care and psychosocial support for families, with particular emphasis on women and girls.  Psychologists trained in Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), will be available on-site, and IOM also will establish a dedicated toll-free hotline for those unable to receive or directly access assistance. 

As insecurity has hampered aid delivery to some affected communities, the agency plans to implement what it called “locally driven, sustainable initiatives” to ensure support reaches those in most need. 

Standing in solidarity 

"IOM's community stabilization approach stresses flexibility and responsiveness to evolving needs," said Ms. Cecchet.   “Cash for work has also proved effective during a crisis, laying the foundation for durable solutions and contributing to community stabilization,” she added. 

This past Friday, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed concluded a two-day mission to Haiti, where she was struck by the “incredible resilience” of its people. 

Ms. Mohammed also reiterated the UN’s support for the country, saying “We stand here in solidarity with Haiti and are in awe at the incredible work the national authorities and the UN agencies are doing to help in these difficult times.” 

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