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In Haiti, better coordinated but insufficient aid

“It’s still the race against amputation. “ Clermont Pierre-Vens, 15, was lucky. He was in the yard of his house when the kitchen wall collapsed on him on Saturday, August 14 at 8:30 a.m., during the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit southeastern Haiti. Admitted to the Immaculée-Conception hospital in Les Cayes, capital of the southern department, with a broken foot, he looked at the external fixator planted in his leg. “The infectious risks are enormous, postoperative follow-up is fundamental”, explains Carla Melki, field coordinator of Doctors Without Borders, who had to set up tents in the hospital courtyard to shelter patients, as the earthquakes damaged the buildings.

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More than three weeks after the tragedy, the establishment is always full. “With the aftershocks, some houses end up collapsing and new wounded arrive”, note Mme Melki. Postoperative follow-up was neglected during the 2010 earthquake, which killed tens of thousands of people in Port-au-Prince, and after which hundreds of NGOs converged on the island, operating in an emergency. and leaving without taking care of the consequences of their interventions. But eleven years after the disaster, and five years after Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, some lessons have been learned.

Different both in their magnitude – the last assessment of August 14 is 2,248 dead and 12,763 injured – and in their location, the two earthquakes are not very comparable. But this time, the deployment of humanitarian aid did not turn into a fiasco. “In 2010, Port-au-Prince did not know what a major disaster was, explains Frantz Duval, editor of the daily The Nouvelliste. When the help arrived, it turned out just any way, there were unnecessary duplication. The money was wasted, we were in a state of emotion and ignorance of the terrain. “

“Wounds superinfected for ten days”

Current aid has been coordinated with national and local authorities, more present than in 2010, when ministries themselves were hit hard. “As soon as we arrived, we checked in everywhere, civil protection, town halls, says Mickaël Richomme, head of a mission for three French firefighting NGOs (firefighters of the international emergency, firefighters humanitarian missions and aid actions international firefighters).

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