Oxfam teams are distributing aid in some of the worst-affected areas of Haiti as the scale of destruction left in the trail of Hurricane Matthew emerges.
Oxfam Australia humanitarian response coordinator Richard Simpson said there was an urgent need for an international response in Haiti, where at at least 350,000 people had been left in need of aid, more than 15,000 were homeless and hundreds had been killed.
Mr Simpson said there was an urgent humanitarian need for those affected by the hurricane, with Oxfam teams delivering aid in the towns of Saint Louis du Sud, Maniche, Les Cayes and Cavaillon.
“Oxfam is handing out hygiene kits and water purification tablets to prevent diseases such as cholera or diarrhoea as we are concerned there could be a spread of water related diseases, ” Mr Simpson said.
“The management of the crisis is even more difficult as Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake and a lot of the infrastructure has been destroyed by the hurricane. Mobilisation of the international community in support of the Haitian people is urgently needed.”
Oxfam’s spokesman in the Haitian capital Port au Prince, Jean Claude Fignole, said it was feared that the numbers of people killed, forced from their homes and in need of life-saving aid, would increase considerably as emergency teams reached areas affected by the hurricane.
“What is most important now is to provide safe water to prevent disease, as well as food and essential supplies,” Mr Fignole said.
“Lost harvests and continued flooding make those most affected vulnerable to a food and health crisis that needs to be prevented.”
Port au Prince resident Jimmy Leys said he feared children were going to fall sick in the wake of the flooding.
“Some pregnant women are already ill,” Mr Leys said. “Diarrhoea and malaria are diseases well known here.”
Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency response can be made online at Oxfam.or.au/icf or by calling 1800 034 034.