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A month post-hurricane, Haiti’s most vulnerable desperate for aid

JÉRÉMIE (HAITI) (AFP) – 

As she attempts to build a small shelter with old sheets, single mother Fabienne Jacynthe scolds children playing with the precious few rusty nails she could find.

Hammer in hand, the 20-year-old Haitian is one of some hundred victims occupying the wasteland along the road to Jeremie, one of the Haitian cities most devastated by Hurricane Matthew in early October.

“We are on private property and the owner has asked us to leave, but we have nowhere to go,” Jacynthe said, smiling despite her struggles.

“My son’s father died last year — I have no money to pay someone so I am forced to build it alone.”

The island nation’s most vulnerable have largely been left to take care of themselves, causing alarm among some international bodies.

“If you’re in these makeshift shelters, there are real protection issues,” said John Ging, director of operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“We’ve got to keep the most vulnerable people at the center of our focus and make sure that in 2016 they have protection, safety, they are not being exploited or raped, or had violence committed against them.”

As the informal camp slowly starts to establish itself, Jacynthe, who lives alone with her three-year-old son, is relying on the goodwill of her neighbors for protection.

“Here, we are all supporting each other to ensure our safety because authorities have done nothing for us,” said the young woman.

“I’ve learned how to manage this fear because this is just the situation — we have to deal with it.”

– “They should have let us die” –

In addition to Jeremie’s desperate residents living in the streets, the city that is home to nearly 100,000 people is also worried about thousands more facing evacuation from shelters.

Some 3,000 victims of the hurricane’s wrath are now crammed into the classrooms of the Nord Alexis school.

Teenage mother Cristella Alcine’s baby sleeps on a blanket that provides scant relief from the concrete floor where he was born just one month ago.

“The delivery did not go well at all: women who were there in the room helped me but I never saw a doctor,” said the 16-year-old girl sitting in a room plagued by flies.

“They told me to give treated water to my baby, but I couldn’t find it every day.”

The girl’s mother, Mirlande Alcine, is concerned about the possibility that those sheltered in the school could be evacuated soon.

After more than a month without holding classes, the Ministry of Education wants students to return Monday to the facility, which is also slated to serve as a polling station for the long-awaited November 20 elections.

“The state must sort itself out because if they are going to throw us into the streets, they should have let us die in the cyclone,” the infant’s grandmother said.

The school’s toilets have been broken for two weeks and police-installed lighting in the courtyard stopped working three days ago for lack of fuel.

But the last thing those who have found shelter in the school want is to leave without the guarantee of minimum aid to repair their ravaged homes.

The damage inflicted by the hurricane’s rampage through the impoverished Caribbean nation was exacerbated by the dire lack of urban planning there.

A torrent of garbage-saturated water cut off the main street of Jeremie during a seasonal storm over the weekend, and 61-year-old resident Marie-Andre Henri must again remove the mud that has invaded her small house just a month after losing everything in the hurricane, she said.

Henri said the back-to-school shoes she just bought for her granddaughter are now lost at sea.

“We need something done: we can’t take this anymore,” she said.

© 2016 AFP

Article source: http://www.france24.com/en/20161107-month-post-hurricane-haitis-most-vulnerable-desperate-aid