Haiti, October 13: While Haiti is still counting its dead and assessing the damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, the powerful Category 4 storm that battered the tiny island nation last week, a senior United Nations peacekeeping official on Wednesday reported that significant headway is being made clearing the roads to facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid.
“As soon as the hurricane moved on, one of the first assessments we made was the very poor state of the roads – which were never fantastic to begin with – and we focused on opening [them] up to allow aid to reach the population,” Mourad Wahba, Deputy Special Representative for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) told reporters in New York via videoconference from the capital, Port-au-Prince.
He said that thanks to the efforts of MINUSTAH engineers and local authorities, the roads have been cleared and there is now access from the Port-au-Prince, the site of the country’s airport and where most of the aid is offloaded, all the way to areas in the southwest of the country, including Les Cayes and Jérémie, where the hurricane made landfall on 4 October.
“From Les Cayes we have opened the roads to Jérémie; and from Le Cayes we are also opening the roads […] up along the western coast of Haiti. But what remains [is to clear] secondary roads, where quite a few people are in need of support, and its urgent that we continue moving there,” said Mr. Wahba.
As such, MINUSTAH significantly boosted its engineering capacity in Les Cayes and Jérémie, and is also providing security for humanitarian convoys, he said, emphasizing: “As you can imagine, populations along some of the routes that have not been reached are angry, they are looking for food, and we need to ensure that [this relief] is secure so that it gets to its destination.”
On related issues, he said the Mission is reviewing police stations, while also distributing water purification systems to limit the spread of diseases. Yesterday, a convoy of 26 trucks left Port-au-Prince with non-food items and the same number of trucks left today with food and non-food supplies along with a massive water purification system donated by the French Government. “All this requires access and it requires security,” he reiterated.