The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Hurricane Matthew work on the ground
November 15, 2016
In response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Matthew in early October, UUSC is partnering with GARR (Groupe d’Appui au Rapatriés et Refugiés/Support Group for Refugees and Returnees) to provide humanitarian assistance, which includes cholera awareness and prevention, livelihood support, and human rights training to repatriated and stateless refugees living in camps at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border in Anse-a-Pitres, Haiti. GARR has long been a strong advocate at the national level, and we can expect the organization to be a leading voice on behalf of those most vulnerable if appropriate channels open in the future.
The Situation at Anse-a-Pitres
The International Organization for Migration has previously attempted to relocate the camp-dwelling populations, but the sites have consistently been repopulated. When Hurricane Matthew struck, there were at least 750 individuals (including hundreds of children) living in tents and other temporary structures at Anse-a-Pitres. All of these individuals saw their shelters destroyed or severely damaged. Living conditions in the camps at Anse-a-Pitres, poor before Hurricane Matthew, have worsened since the hurricane – shelter, food, medical assistance, and drinking water are even more scarce than before. There is also an acute risk of cholera developing and spreading. Moreover, the scale of devastation following the hurricane, which has affected more than 1.4 million people, could lead to an increase in Haitian people attempting to cross the border into the Dominican Republic, which could in turn lead to further deportations and a swelling of border camps.
About our Partner
GARR was formed in 1991 to provide more coordinated support and advocacy services for refugees deported back to Haiti. It is a highly respected, Haitian-led organization with deep experience responding to humanitarian disasters, including the 2010 earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak. GARR also works alongside another UUSC partner, Zanmi Timoun, to support recently deported minors at the Haiti-Dominican Republic border in Belladere, Haiti. GARR currently runs the only shelter to which unaccompanied minors are given food, shelter, psychosocial support, and medical attention.