Lack of communication and sanitation in Haiti as bodies litter streets

Survivors on the streets

Survivors of the Haiti earthquake will be at risk of disease unless the tens of thousands of victims’ bodies are cleaned up.

The severity of the quake has made work very difficult and we urge the international community to get as much aid to Haiti as possible in the coming days.

Jean-Claude Fignole, ActionAid’s Haiti country director, said: “Haiti needs a massive clean-up operation. There are bodies everywhere, and hundreds of thousands of survivors are living in very close proximity to the dead. The potential for sickness and disease is staggering. We need to see a massive international aid effort arriving as soon as possible.

“I am standing just across the road from a children’s school which collapsed with hundreds of children inside, but there is no clean-up happening.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping in tents, or filling public squares waiting for some kind of help. There is no water, food or sanitation. Many of the survivors have broken arms and legs.”

ActionAid's emergency response  is in its initial phase but conditions are very difficult given there are no working phones, its office is unsafe and many staff members have themselves been affected by the earthquake.

“Communication is next to impossible as the phones are down. We are working from a temporary office and trying to get our programmes started. Many other aid agencies and the UN have been badly affected. But we will be able to start giving out aid soon,” said Fignole.

ActionAid is initially planning to distribute food, shelter and essential goods like soap and blankets to around 20,000 people. In the longer term ActionAid will work in partnership with Haitian organizations to rebuild the houses of poor men and women and their livelihoods. ActionAid will work strongly to ensure that responses will fully take into account the rights of Haitians.

photo : ©Eduardo Munoz / Reuters, copyright www.alertnet.org