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Urgent action needed to prevent cholera becoming 'the real disaster' in Haiti

10 October 2016 - Cholera could kill more people in Haiti than Hurricane Matthew, without urgent action to control the disease and ensure families have safe drinking water, Christian Aid warned today.

“I am worried that if it is not controlled as soon as possible, cholera will be the real disaster,” said Prospery Raymond, Country Manager for Haiti, speaking after visiting the worst-hit south of Haiti.

“There is a risk that more people could die from the disease than from the hurricane."

Hurricane Matthew hit on Wednesday 5th  October and left at least 400 people dead, an estimated 750,000 people needing aid and more than 25,000 houses badly damaged.

“There is a lot of water around but it is not drinkable because animals have died in it, and so on. The risk of contamination is really high. We need to help families get clean drinking water,” added Mr Raymond.

Christian Aid is working with Norwegian Church Aid to get water purifying tablets to 1,500 families (around 9,000 people) in Haiti, said Mr Raymond.

The thousands of people forced out of their houses by Hurricane Matthew are also desperate for building materials so they can repair their properties and go home, he added.

They are currently sheltering in churches, schools and the houses that withstood the storm. The ground is too saturated for tents.

“People want to repair their homes quickly so they can return home. They are desperate for corrugated iron, clips, wood and hammers,” said Mr Raymond.

“We will provide the materials to 1,000 families, and help from an engineer if they want it, and they will fix their houses.”

He argued the Haitian government should now control and subsidise the prices of such materials, to help as many people as possible to repair their homes, where repair is even possible.

Mr Raymond also appealed to people in the UK to support Christian Aid’s Haiti appeal.

“We would like to help many more families to be able to return home and would be so grateful for support from people in the UK,” he said. “It will also help children return to school, which they can’t do while schools are used for shelter.”

During his visit to the worst-hit part of Haiti, Mr Raymond also found that all the houses built there by Christian Aid partners following the 2010 earthquake had survived the hurricane and were each being used as shelter for between two and five families.

“The houses we built are saving lives, because they are sheltering other people,” he said.

Mr Raymond, who is himself from the south of Haiti, said that despite their struggle and dangers they face, people still have hope.

“The situation is really critical and people are living in difficult circumstances but they have faith in the future and they are happy with the help they are receiving,” he said.

“Even if they know they are living in the path of hurricanes, they continue to believe in a brighter future for their children.”

ENDS

 For interview requests or more information contact jrogers@christian-aid.org. The 24-hour Christian Aid press duty phone is 07850 242950. 


Notes to editors: 

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. 

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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