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March 21, 2024

Update: Haiti on the Edge


World Jewish Relief is deeply troubled by the escalating crisis in Haiti, where a surge in gang violence, especially in the capital, Port-au-Prince, has exacerbated instability. Numerous hospitals have been forced to shut down amidst the turmoil, leaving health services crippled and communities across the nation in distress. Over 360,000 people have been internally displaced; Haiti is facing a very uncertain future.

World Jewish Relief has worked in Haiti over many years, helping people rebuild their lives after disasters including the 2010 earthquake which left the capital in ruins and claimed over 230,000 lives and displaced nearly a million. We are closely monitoring the situation alongside our local partner, Haiti Survie, who told us:

“The situation is always difficult here but it is becoming more and more complicated. The armed gangs are targeting the civilian population – they are looting the houses not far from where I live and we can hear regular gunfire. We risk a serious humanitarian crisis and what makes it worse is the country is closed – there are no internal or external flights functioning.

The whole Haiti Survie team is doing ok, and are continuing to work remotely. Many communities, even those outside of their capital are suffering, with very few able to work. We are trying to provide them with cash to help them meet the needs of their family. We thank World Jewish Relief for their support and solidarity with us at this difficult time.”

The crisis today is a stark reminder of the 2010 earthquake’s aftermath when World Jewish Relief, together with its local partners, stepped forward to deliver critical aid. In response, World Jewish Relief provided immediate life-saving supplies, including shelter tarpaulins, food packages, family tents, water kits for 3,000 individuals, and medical supplies for 10,000 people. Once the immediate crisis passed, World Jewish Relief helped thousands of people to rebuild their lives, providing much-needed healthcare through mobile clinics. These clinics treated infectious diseases, injuries, and chronic health conditions exacerbated by the earthquake.

A man carries metal bars salvaged from the rubble of collapsed buildings in Port-au-Prince.
A man carries metal bars salvaged from the rubble of collapsed buildings in Port-au-Prince, 2010.

In 2016, Haiti was struck by Hurricane Matthew, which swept through the country destroying lives and livelihoods once again. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Jewish community, World Jewish Relief mobilised quickly and provided cash transfers to allow the most affected families to repair homes or buy food, acknowledging the dignity in allowing people the agency to address their own immediate needs. In the longer-term, World Jewish Relief provided life-changing livelihood recovery work.

However, the challenges in Haiti have been relentless. The devastating earthquake in August 2021 saw World Jewish Relief spring into action, working with their local partner Haiti Survie, to address the urgent needs of the Haitian people. They notably focused on overlooked rural communities, delivering food parcels and committing to ongoing support, from providing temporary shelters to long-term recovery plans.

Haiti has also seen many smaller scale, under-the-radar crises which have received little support. World Jewish Relief is a proud member of the START Network, committed to providing rapid responses to under-the-radar crises around the world. Since 2019, World Jewish Relief has launched multiple responses to floods and earthquakes. Most recently, with their long-term partner Haiti Survie and also HelpAge International, they provided cash transfers, hygiene kits and livelihood support to those impacted by floods.

But heightened violence, hospital closures, and mass displacement represent a new tipping point for the Haitian people. World Jewish Relief will remain in close contact with its local partner on the ground, and hope for an end to the violence so that communities can begin to rebuild their lives once again. World Jewish Relief’s Head of Humanitarian Programmes, Kai Hopkins, said:

“We have watched with concern, as Haiti has navigated various recent challenges, from rampant inflation to earthquakes and political unrest. These latest developments, however, have surpassed our own fears. As ever those most at risk are the innocent civilians caught in the middle. We are in regular contact with our partner and are constantly monitoring what we might be able to do to help. As the region’s poorest country, the resilience of all Haitians is being severely tested, and we can only hope for a return to stability.”