An international Catholic charity has announced a major emergency aid package for Haiti, following the devastating earthquake that struck the country on Saturday (14th August).
Today (Monday 16th August), Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which has been talking with the Haitian Church about the response to the crisis, approved aid amounting to half a million Euros (more than £424,000).
Yesterday, Haiti’s prime minister Ariel Henry declared a month-long state of emergency after the 7.2 magnitude earthquake wreaked havoc, toppling and damaging buildings in the towns of Les Cayes, Tigwav and Jeremie.
The natural disaster killed up to 1,300 people and injured more than 5,700, according to provisional information issued this morning by the Haitian Civil Protection Agency.
Dr Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN (International), said: “The quake, the epicentre of which was some 100 miles from the capital, has mainly affected the south of the country, especially the dioceses of Les Cayes, Anse-á-Veau and Jeremie.
“The earthquake has disrupted the only access route to Jeremie, so that we have less information about this part of the island. But we know that it has also been badly affected.”
The epicentre of the earthquake was about eight miles north-west of Petit Trou de Nippes according to the US Geological Survey.
Dr Heine-Geldern added that Church partners in the country had been able to give accurate information about the situation on the ground.
He said: “We are relieved to be able to report that our project partners have denied certain rumours, such as the one reported in some media to the effect that the Bishop of Les Cayes, Cardinal Chibly Langlois, had been gravely wounded and buried under the rubble.
“The bishop’s house in Les Cayes has been totally destroyed, but the Cardinal himself was able to escape in time.”
Dr Heine-Geldern went on to say ACN would be supporting the Church as it had done following the earthquake in 2010.
He said: “We are conscious of the great efforts made by the Church to offer signs of hope to the people in their desperate situation, after so many natural disasters and in the midst of the violence and extreme poverty.
“So at this difficult time we cannot abandon this Church, which is fighting to support its people.”
But Haiti may face further challenges, as Tropical Storm Grace is heading towards the country according to the US’s National Hurricane Center.
Grace is projected to pass over or close by Haiti later today.
Dr Heine-Geldern said: “Moreover, we are filled with consternation at the news of the hurricane which is approaching the coast.
“We plea to you to pray for the country, to pray for all those who have lost their loved ones, those who have been wounded and those who have lost everything.
“May Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Patroness and Protector of Haiti, bring them all support and consolation”.