Uplifting

Desperate Haitians Found Living in Caves MONTHS After Hurricane Matthew


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Things don’t seem to be looking up for the residents of Haiti six months after Hurricane Matthew killed thousands of people.

When the Category 5 hurricane hit barreled through Haiti in October, it destroyed crops and livestock along the country’s southern peninsula, the Miami Herald reported. The Haitians living there have gotten so desperate that they have resorted to living in a cave and eating poisonous plants to survive.

On Wednesday, South Florida-based charity Food For The Poor discovered 240 people in a mountain cave on the outskirts of Jérémie, the capital of the Grand’Anse region. The hundreds of people, which include 84 women and 62 children, had been living there since Hurricane Matthew hit.

“They have no food. They have no water. They have no shelter,” said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. “It really is a crime against humanity.”

Days before the discovery, the charity had reported that at least 13 people in the Grand’Anse region had died in the previous 10 days because of food shortages related to the hurricane.

“Families are turning in desperation to fruits and foliage known to be poisonous in an attempt to quell their hunger and save their lives,” Food For The Poor said in a press release.

The situation in Haiti is likely to get worse, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Haiti’s financial situation is rapidly deteriorating and their access to basic services has diminished, the U.N. humanitarian agency said in a report last month.

In addition, the “vast majority” of agricultural households have not recovered their means of production, according to the U.N. Two-thirds of the farmers in the Grand’Anse region lost 75 percent of their crops as a result of the hurricane, and 95 percent of farmers were unable to plant in the February or May harvests.

The monetary loss of crops, livestock and infrastructure from Hurricane Matthew is estimated by the Haitian government to be about $2.9 billion.Last week, the charity sent trucks from its Port-au-Prince warehouses to delivered food, blankets, hygiene kits, kerosene stoves and tarps to the families who were found – and relocated – from the cave.

David Adams, vice president for missions at Cross International, a Pompano Beach-based charity, said Haitians in the remote areas are suffering the most.

“The alarm needs to be sounded,” Adams, who recently spent time in the Grand’Anse area, said. “… I don’t want to say there could be mass starvation right away, but we could start to see 10, 20 and 30 people at a time dying.”

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