Crisis Alert

Crisis Alert: Political Unrest in Haiti

Unrest in Haiti has been escalating since February 6, 2019.

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HT_2019-02-15_streetReported by Kenson Kaas
National Director of Childcare, NPH Haiti

February 11, 2019

On Wednesday afternoon, February 6, 2019, a political protest erupted and has since escalated. Today, Monday, February 11, is the fifth day of the protests. There are no signs of the protests lessening or ending anytime soon. Several people have died or been injured. Neither Haitian President Jovenel Moïse nor the national police force appear to have control of the situation. Protesters are looting, burning tires in the streets, and making passage through Port-au-Prince difficult, even by ambulance.

Social media is the main source of news and information, which is making the situation worse as it is hard to know what is true; unfortunately, people are acting on this information. People feel hopeless and it seems they will do anything to try to change the situation. Recent actions include vandalizing preparations for Carnival.

Some protesters are targeting the upper class, blaming them for Haiti’s current economic woes. Some are calling on President Moïse to resign, citing his lack of leadership and inability to control the situation. This round of protests is motivated by quickly rising inflation and charges of corruption against the Moïse administration.

All businesses and institutions are closed. Some international institutions have encouraged their employees to leave the country. The streets are very unsafe. We have asked our NPH Haiti employees to stay home.

A Communications department photography project that had just gotten underway has been canceled. The team has left Haiti. Visitor groups from NPH offices planned for this month have also been canceled.

The NPH facility in Kenscoff may have a cooking gas shortage, if the situation persists. Otherwise, the situation inside the home is stable.

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Photo taken by Denso Gay, Communication Officer, NPH Haiti, on his way to work


Reported by Kenson Kaas
National Director of Childcare, NPH Haiti

February 12, 2019

The NPH Haiti team is working to set up an emergency depot at St. Helene and in other houses. There is no gas for cooking and no electricity.


Reported by Kenson Kaas
National Director of Childcare, NPH Haiti

February 14, 2019

The situation is getting very intense now and people cannot hold on any longer. Today marks one week and one day of the protest. People are using up their stocks of food and supplies and will not be able to sustain any longer. We start getting calls from some of our employees and students crying for help. The gas in Kenscoff has been used up and we are now using charcoal to cook. The drinking water is all gone.

The depreciation of the gourde (Haitian currency) is one of the main reasons behind the violent protest in the streets. From October 2018 to February 2019, value jumped from 69 gourdes to 83 gourdes. This is historical high, yet the rate of inflation keeps increasing. At this pace, 100 gourdes will be worth US$1 by the end of the year.

To put this into perspective, some of our employees earn 10,000 gourdes a month. Last October, this was equivalent to US$145. Currently, this sum is worth US$120. The people hold the sitting president accountable for the hardships they are facing every day and government corruption in relation to the petroleum deal with Venezuela. People are calling for those involved in the mismanagement of funds to be tried by the Justice Department.

For our employees, this is a heavy blow. Everything is more expensive—food to eat, public transportation to go to work, children’s school tuition and fees of children, medication, drinking water, and so forth.

This high cost of living also affects the students we have living with their parents. They are living in some of the poorest towns in the country. They are the most impacted by this unfortunate situation.

We are using the hospital ambulance to look for water, gas and other supplies.

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Reported by Dr. Jacqueline Gautier
Medical Director, St. Damien Pediatric Hospital, NPH Haiti

February 14, 2019

Due to heavy rioting and protests, Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas that include St. Damien Pediatric Hospital have been on lockdown since February 7. Since then, St. Damien has been functioning in emergency mode, with the managing staff being present at all times to coordinate activities and keep the hospital open and functioning 24/7.

St. Damien continues to provide high quality care to all children in need and women in labor. We have removed admission criteria due to the impossibility of referring women in labor elsewhere. We continued to provide chronically ill children with life-saving care, including medication, and meals.

We are also providing transportation via ambulances for all employees, most of whom have graciously accepted to work 24-hour straight shifts in order to minimize movement and traffic.

As a result of these emergency measures, our fuel reserves are quickly diminishing, which will soon lead to power shortages and difficulties with transportation.

St. Damien is accruing additional expenses for meals for all employees—even for certain patients’ family members—and housing for employees who are obliged to remain in the hospital until the following morning in order to reduce fuel consumption and maximize safety by making fewer daytime trips.

We are facing tremendous challenges. We ask for your generous donations in order to remain open and continue providing care to this population in distress.

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Photo by Denso Gay, Communication Officer, NPH Haiti: St. Damien’s maternity ward is full


HT_2019-02_fromCassagnolD2Reported by Dr. Denso Gay
Communication Officer, NPH Haiti

February 15, 2019

Haiti remains locked down. The roads are blocked. Even ambulances have difficulty passing through.

The maternity wards of St. Damien Pediatric Hospital are overflowing with patients and family members. Patients are being treated in an adjacent space.

Most people who come to St. Damien have no other option. It is not safe to release these patients to go home or to another hospital. They took a chance just to come to St. Damien. The risk is too great to leave. The staff of St. Damien won’t ask these patients to venture out into the violence, to risk going somewhere else knowing they won’t find healthcare services or help.

The ballroom has been converted into a malnutrition ward. It is a large room and it is nearly full. The beds are full with some patients spilling into the hospital hallways.

In contrast the emergency department is almost empty. The fact is families cannot evacuate the places where they are trapped in order to bring their children to the hospital. Every day more and more people plead for help because they have run out of water, food, medicine, and supplies.

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Photo by Cassagnol Destine, Project Coordinator of, NPH Haiti: St. Damien’s maternity ward is full


HT_2019-02_fromCassagnolD2Reported by Kenson Kaas
National Director of Childcare, NPH Haiti

February 15, 2019

We continue paying double or more for everything. The streets are difficult to navigate. We buy supplies and essential goods on the street.

NPH ambulances have huge blue logos to help people easily identify us. They trust us. The strength of the NPH reputation helps us get to those in need and serve adults and children alike.

February 19, 2019

The prime minister addressed the nation last weekend to lay out a plan to mitigate the situation. The government also announced that everything should get back to normal today. Timidly, businesses are starting to open, including some banks and public street markets. Schools, however, remain closed. Normal activity can be seen in the streets.

The opposition wants to continue the protest. The people, however, want to get back to work and their daily life. They hope the government will deliver on its promises. The situation is still unpredictable, but if continues like this, things may be back to normal by mid-week.

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Photo by Kenson Kaas: Staff burn firewood to cook and boil water


In order to provide a safe place for children in need, we rely on our generous sponsors and donors. To make a donation, please visit https://www.nphusa.org/donate.


Updates will be posted here when available.


 

Related Information:
• NPH Haiti
• St. Damien Pediatric Hospital Fund
PROFILE: Dr. Jacqueline Gautier, Medical Director, St. Damien Pediatric Hospital
• How Your Help Makes an Impact at NPH

• More News