Updated: August 19, 2015 9:46:18 am
Climate change, cholera and the return of thousands of migrants from the neighboring Dominican Republican are fueling a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, the UN has warned.
The impoverished Caribbean nation is facing a deluge of problems, pushing an already vulnerable population closer to the edge, said Enzo di Taranto, who heads Haiti’s UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Among these pressures is a new cholera outbreak. Cases are up 300 per cent in the first months of 2015 compared to the same period last year, di Taranto said in an interview with AFP.
Haiti — the poorest country in the Americas — is already suffering from chronic instability and struggling to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 2,50,000 people and crippled the nation’s infrastructure.
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A cholera outbreak after the quake was blamed on UN peacekeepers’ poor hygiene.
According to UN data, nearly 20,000 people have been affected and 170 killed by the disease since the beginning of the year.
More than 8,800 Haitians have died of cholera since it appeared in October 2010 and, even today, cases recorded in Haiti surpass the total number of people with the disease elsewhere in the world.
Out of an estimated population of 10 million, around three million Haitians still are drinking dirty water, OCHA said.
Beyond the increase in cholera, the humanitarian situation in the country is worsening because of a “convergence of several factors,” di Taranto said.
“The devaluation of the gourde (Haitian currency), which means an increase in the price of baseline products like medicine, food and water; the drought which has hit many regions in the country; and also the repatriation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic,” are all contributing, he said.
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