Tens of thousands at risk of cholera in Haiti after Tropical Storm Isaac

Posted by Lucy Brinicombe Senior Press Officer

26th Aug 2012

International aid agency Oxfam is warning that tens of thousands of people are at risk of cholera in the aftermath of tropical storm Isaac, which battered the Caribbean Island yesterday.

The 400,000 people living in camps in the capital Port-au-Prince, such as Jean Marie Vincent, as well as those living in towns to the south of the island, including Les Cayes and Jacmel are among those at risk, following heavy rains and flooding.

Heavy rain and winds, that measured up to 70mph, have also devastated people's ways of making a living; small businesses like shops have been ruined and coffee crops - due for harvest next month - are reported to have been destroyed. Most people remained in their homes but several thousand are expected to need alternative accommodation centres.

Oxfam emergency teams today plan to help prevent cholera from spreading to keep the death toll down, with isolated cases of cholera before the storm adding to the urgency. Public information on basic hygiene sanitation, soap and chlorine to make water safe will be distributed.

Further assessments are being carried out to measure food security in the affected areas and to identify the best ways to help people re-build their means of making a living. There are also fears of further flooding, with rain forecast over the next 24 hours.

Jane Cocking, Oxfam's Humanitarian Director said: "The situation for a lot of people in Haiti remains precarious. The next few days and weeks are crucial in preventing cholera from spreading and responding to where there is most need.

"The storm has again reminded us all of the terrible vulnerability of the 400,000 people still living in makeshift camps two years after the devastating earthquake. More must be done in securing the land needed to provide them with proper accommodation so that they are more able to withstand storms such as Isaac."

The aid agency is in the process of contacting its supporters to ask for donations to help support its emergency work in Haiti, which is often cited as the poorest country in the western hemisphere with four in five of the population living on less than $2 a day.

Those wishing to make a donation should visit www.oxfam.org.uk.

For more information and interviews please contact:

In Haiti: Pélèg Charles, Port-au-Prince, Haiti +509 37 01 49 33 cpeleg@oxfam.org.uk
In the UK: Lucy Brinicombe +44 7786 110 054 lbrinicombe@oxfam.org.uk

Blog post written by Lucy Brinicombe

Senior Press Officer

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