A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Oxfam teams in Haiti are working to prepare communities to help avoid damage from Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to hit the country today (Friday 24 August), and are also preparing contingency stocks of aid and emergency response teams.
The agency is preparing to help in the event it is needed with clean water, temporary shelter materials, hygiene kits, and public information campaigns to help prevent the spread of cholera and other water borne diseases.
With a deluge of rain and winds up to 74 miles an hour forecasted, the risks of heavy flooding, landslides, damage to roads and buildings, and harvest losses in rural areas are high. Of particular concern are the 390,000 people living in 600 camps two and a half years after a major earthquake devastated the capital. Oxfam is also concerned about other vulnerable communities in the path of the storm as well as about the risk that cholera could spread in the aftermath of the storm.
Oxfam is also helping local organizations to prepare, having worked for more than five years to strengthen disaster prevention, preparedness and response in Haiti.
Oxfam is encouraged by steps taken by Haiti’s Directorate for Civilian Protection in advance of this storm, but remains concerned that risks remain high.
Oxfam Country Director Andrew Pugh said, “Nothing short of a miracle can keep people safe from this kind of storm when their only shelter is a tent. Haiti’s disaster preparedness and response capacities have improved since the earthquake, but much remains to be done to help the poorest people cope with hurricane-strength threats.”
Notes to editors
For more information and interviews please contact:
Pélèg Charles, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
+509 37 01 49 33
Ian Bray, UK, +44 7721 461 339