Earthquake in Haiti: Emergency Aid for People with Disabilities

Locals recover their belongings from their homes destroyed in the earthquake in Camp-Perrin, Les Cayes, Haiti, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. The death toll from the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Haiti soared on Sunday as rescuers raced to find survivors amid the rubble ahead of a potential deluge from an approaching tropical storm. (AP Photo/Joseph Odelyn)
© picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS

On 14 August 2021, Haiti was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Over 1,400 people have died so far, with thousands missing and injured. Countless people have lost their homes and are exposed to an approaching storm without any protection. CBM is providing immediate aid and is preparing to support earthquake victims with disabilities and their families in particular.

Unimaginable hardship – further exacerbated by a storm

The strong earthquake and two aftershocks have caused suffering and chaos in Haiti. Additionally, the tropical storm "Grace" with heavy rainfall and floods has further exacerbated the situation. CBM is currently working with its local partners to determine how emergency aid can most efficiently reach people who are otherwise quickly forgotten: people with disabilities. We are in constant contact with the country office in the capital Port-au-Prince - all employees are currently safe, but some have lost family members due to the earthquake.

The earthquake has hit a country that is already struggling with multiple crises - in addition to the COVID-19 situation and political instability, the region in the south-west of the country has not yet recovered from the consequences of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. In addition to the necessary emergency aid, CBM will also work towards providing long-term support in rebuilding livelihoods of those affected.
Oliver Neuschäfer, humanitarian aid coordinator at CBM.

People with disabilities must not be forgotten

People with disabilities are particularly hard-hit in disasters like the one in Haiti. Blind, hearing impaired or people with other physical disabilities are often overlooked in emergency situations. They cannot escape as quickly as others and need assistance to navigate the chaos.

Dr. Rainer Brockhaus, CEO of CBM emphasizes: “People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to emergency situations. After all, how is someone with a physical disability supposed to overcome mud and rubble? How should a blind or hearing-impaired person find their way in the chaos of an escape situation? And how do we keep them informed about available aid options? Our experience shows that in such disasters it is precisely these people who are forgotten and receive aid the last."

That is why people with disabilities are the focus of all CBM relief measures - be it through urgently needed first aid services, distribution of food, through medical aid or rehabilitation and finally through inclusive reconstruction measures. To this end, CBM also works with and advises other aid organisations and local authorities.

Main focus of our aid provision in Haiti

  • First aid kits to ensure the survival of affected people with disabilities and their families in particular.
  • Medical aid and rehabilitation to all people affected, building on our work experience after the 2010 earthquake.
  • Close collaboration with other aid organisations and local authorities to advise on disability and inclusion matters so that the specific needs of people with disabilities are taken into account.