Haiti dodges eye of storm, but camp dwellers still at risk from flooding and cholera

By Ablejwas

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Thousands of people living in refugee camps in Haiti remain at risk from flooding and disease, according to international aid agency Oxfam, despite the Caribbean island appearing to have avoided the worst of tropical storm Isaac.

Initial assessments of the aftermath of the storm, which cleared the island’s landmass in the early hours of Saturday morning (25th August), suggest the damage has not been as great as was feared.

There have been media reports of four deaths, but there is no evidence at the moment of major damage to infrastructure or significant casualties.

Camps in the capital Port-au-Prince, such as Jean Marie Vincent, have been flooded, as well as towns in the south of the island, including Les Cayes, Jacmel and Nippes. There are reports of electric pylons collapsing and power outages and some disruption on the roads.

However, with exceptionally heavy rainfall forecast in the wake of the storm and with nearly 400,000 Haitians still living in refugee camps after the massive earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince in 2010, people remain highly vulnerable to the threat of flooding, landslides and water borne diseases, especially cholera.

Oxfam emergency teams are now heading out to the affected areas of the island as soon as possible, allowing workers to carry out more in-depth assessments and to provide aid to those who need it in the form of clean water, hygiene kits and public information about sanitation.

Jane Cocking, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Director, said: “The storm may have passed but living conditions in Haiti remain so challenging for so much of the population that it’s far too early to say the threat is over. People in Haiti have so little that they are incredibly vulnerable to the risks posed by flooding and disease. They remain in desperate need of our help.”

The aid agency is accepting donations to help support its emergency work in Haiti, which is often cited as the poorest country in the western hemisphere with four in five of the population living on less than $2 a day.