2021 Haiti Earthquake Updates

A call to action in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti

On August 14th, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the southwestern part of Haiti. The epicentre of the quake is located fewer than 160km (100 miles) by road from Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10km.

We’ve created this updates page to share the most up-to-date info we have about the situation on the ground and Compassion’s response.

 

WATCH: A video update on the situation in Haiti from Compassion Canada’s President and CEO, Allison Alley.

Whenever crisis and disaster strike, Compassion’s local church partners are already on the ground ready to respond in their local communities. We can partner with them and take action together. Our prayers and support will be a lifeline to those who are at the frontlines of this devastating reality. 

You can take action by giving to Compassion’s Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. 

GIVE NOW

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FAQs about the 2021 earthquake in Haiti

[Update as of September 21, 2021 at 9:32 am EST]

What do you know about the earthquake and its immediate impact?

  • A 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck southwest Haiti Saturday, August 14. The devastation of yet another natural disaster in Haiti is worsened by decades of poverty, political unrest, disease, and lack of infrastructure.
  • Current reports indicate that the homes of approximately 5,000 of the children in our program were destroyed while nearly 7,000 others’ homes were damaged.
  • Tropical Depression Grace caused some flooding in the disaster region, complicating the damage assessments and emergency response to the earthquake.
  • The drastic conditions in southwestern Haiti, where more than half a million children lack access to shelter, clean water and hygiene facilities, are rapidly increasing the threat of acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, cholera and malaria.
  • UNICEF warns of a potential resurgence in water-borne diseases in south-western Haiti, where more than half a million children lack access to shelter, safe drinking water and hygiene facilities.
  • The compounded effects of an ongoing political crisis, socio-economic challenges, food insecurity and gang violence continue to greatly worsen an already precarious humanitarian situation.
  • The Haitian government reports that the school year, initially scheduled for September 6, has been postponed to September 21 for the rest of the country and to October 4 in the three earthquake devastated departments.
  • According to the World Bank, a first assessment of the economic damages amount to about $1.1 billion USD  in the three most affected areas.

What is the current reality for the children in Compassion’s program and Compassion staff who are in the affected area?

  • The mission of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Haiti reports that nearly 1 million people – about 45 per cent of the population – in all 4 departments in Grand-Sud will experience high levels of acute food insecurity since access to food and purchasing power of the population has considerably declined. Approximately 212,000 people have also lost access to safe drinking water services in the aftermath of the earthquake.
  • The Haitian government has decided to extend, for a period of 30 days, the state of emergency in the three regions severely affected by the earthquake of August 14, 2021.
  • Transportation from Port au Prince to and from the southern region of the country, where the earthquake struck on August 14, has become very difficult the last few days due to the rise of gang related activities around Port au Prince and fuel shortages.
  • Over 17,000 Compassion-assisted children live in the area impacted by this earthquake. Approximately 14,000 of those children are directly impacted. Houses, roads, businesses, churches and government buildings have been damaged, including 46 Compassion child development centres, 15 of which are considered completely destroyed.
  • The urgent needs of the population remain drinking water, food, medicine and shelter as the government has urged people living in that devastated area to avoid returning to their cracked buildings due to frequent aftershocks since the day of the earthquake.
  • Most of those affected families are now living in their yards with the hope that they will be able to rebuild or fix their homes soon because hurricane season is now upon them.
  • Each of the 46 affected local church partners have received food and hygiene kits or cash transfers for the children in Compassion programs.
  • Our latest assessment reveals that the office buildings of 12 of our local church partners have been destroyed while 22 others damaged; 14 school buildings have been destroyed and 19 others damaged; 9 church buildings have been destroyed and 25 others damaged.
  • All of our local church partners have resumed work at their yards. They meet with beneficiaries individually whenever necessary, and they keep providing status updates during the crisis.

Are there fatalities or injuries among children in Compassion’s programs?

We’re still in the early stages of assessing the final impacts to the children we serve and their families, but early reports are showing 18 Compassion-sponsored children have died while 240 others are injured; 26 caregivers and siblings have died and 140 others are injured. Compassion is proactively communicating with sponsors and will continue to keep them informed as we know more information.

We recognize that these deaths and injuries are so much more than statistics in a disaster. They are a beloved children, grandchildren, siblings, and friends. Please know that Compassion will make every effort to call affected sponsors to let them know their sponsored child has died. We will cry with them, pray with them, and answer questions as we’re able.

Is my child impacted?

Please Note: If you sponsor a child in Haiti, we know you must be deeply concerned about their well-being. There are over 7,000 Haitian children currently sponsored each month by more than 6,200 Canadians.  If the child you sponsor has been directly affected by this earthquake, we will contact you when we have more information.

There are at least 17,000 children to locate and check in an area where all the infrastructure has been destroyed so it will take time.

How is Compassion caring for children in Haiti right now?

  • Compassion Haiti has started implementing a shelter intervention in the affected region by working with service providers on materials and equipment needed to provide each beneficiary family a decent space to live. About 12,000  families will benefit from that intervention.
  • Compassion Haiti is also providing health and child protection assistance to the affected children in the southern region. So far, two medical teams have already visited that region and provided medical assistance to about 300 children.
  • Compassion is responding to immediate survival needs by assessing conditions and providing food kits and hygiene packs for 15,654 children, youth, and families.
  • As needed, Compassion will provide shelter for 10,500 children and families who have lost their homes and enable medical care.
  • The Haitian government and other organizations have mobilized for food relief. By partnering with these organizations, we can focus our resources on other areas of relief, such as temporary housing and rebuilding our Frontline Church Partners.
  • While immediate survival needs are being met, the teams are also focused on stability measures: ensuring children are protected, rebuilding the local church to love and protect children, and offering trauma counselling.
  • A big challenge for church leaders is to get ready for the school year reopening which is scheduled for October 4 while many of their program settings have been damaged.

What’s the greatest risks our children and their families are facing right now? 

  • So many children have been separated from their caregivers in the mayhem of the earthquake. Compassion is setting up child-friendly spaces that allow unaccompanied minors to seek refuge and safely wait as missing caregivers are located. While waiting, children have a safe place to play and process their emotions with trusted adults.
  • To avoid the inherent dangers found in displacement camps, Compassion is trying to keep families and children together. Because families are more likely to own their own land in this rural setting, the goal is to set up temporary shelters on their land that can become a part of permanent shelters and homes in the future.
  • The political turmoil, combined with desperation, has created an uptick in kidnappings and gang violence.

How is Compassion getting resources into the impacted communities?

Government convoys are bringing food and supplies into impacted communities; however, many gangs are attempting to divert aid through road blockades and other means. Thankfully, many markets and banks are starting to reopen making cash transfers a viable option for beneficiaries and their families.

So far Canadians have given over $566,000 toward Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.

What do you know about the situation on the ground?

Haiti Earthquake - 2021

Epicentre of the earthquake – image provided by Compassion UK

  • The magnitude 7.2-magnitude earthquake quake struck 8 km (5 miles) from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, about 150 km west of the capital Port-au-Prince, at a depth of 10 km, according to the officials.
  • The Haitian government declared a one-month state of emergency mainly in the following departments West, South, Nippes, and Grand’Anse.
  • So far, nearly 2,207 deaths have been registered while 344 are missing and about 12,300 people injured, according to the Haitian government.
  • The government also confirms that nearly 600,000 people have been directly affected by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake and are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
  • There have been dozens of aftershocks since after the earthquake on August 14 and at least, three significant ones of magnitude 4.7 to 5.1 have been recorded in the last three days. Therefore, the government urges the population to avoid taking shelter in damaged houses that risk collapsing.
  • Tropical Depression Grace caused some flooding in the disaster region, complicating the damage assessments and emergency response to the earthquake.
  • 25 water supply systems have been damaged in the 3 most affected departments, according to the water company working in that region.
  • The WHO in Haiti notes that 36 health facilities have been affected, of which 4 were destroyed and 32 damaged in the affected region.
  • This earthquake was in a different part of Haiti than the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in the densely populated capital Port-au-Prince. This rural location provides different challenges and obstacles, but Compassion is committed to serving the children and young people in this area.

What is Compassion’s response?

  • With our global partners we are mobilizing to respond to immediate survival needs by assessing conditions and providing food kits and hygiene packs for 18,000 children, youth, and families.
  • As needed, Compassion will provide shelter for children and families who have lost their homes and enable medical care.
  • While immediate survival needs are being met, the teams are also focused on stability measures: ensuring children are protected, rebuilding the local church to love and protect children, and offering trauma counselling.

Response will be in 4 phases:

  1. Urgent response.  Food kits, shelter for families who lost their home, child protection measures, trauma support.
  2. Getting church partners back up and operating temporarily. The creation of transitional offices and temporary meetings spaces.  Aiming to have them running by September 2021.
  3. Rebuilding.  Where most of the money will be spent, rebuilding up to 30 local church partners (and rebuild earthquake proof).
  4. Parent and youth restart: helping parents and youth primarily with income generating training and support so they can rebuild livelihoods.

What is the financial response from Compassion Canada?

Have you thought, yet, about the long-term ramifications of this current disaster?

  • Compassion’s unique response is to strengthen and rebuild the most effective support system on the island: the local church. Historically, the church has been Haiti’s lifeline, support system, and refuge—even before the earthquake hit.
  • The process of rebuilding in this part of Haiti will take many years, but we are committed to reopening our projects as soon as we can. We will ensure these new structures are built to code for earthquakes and hurricanes to withstand any potential future disasters.
  • Many churches in the area are connected to the schools. As we rebuild the Compassion centres and classrooms, we rebuild the children’s sense of safety, education, and normalcy.

For those beneficiaries not directly impacted, is the Compassion program continuing as normal?

Yes, activities will continue elsewhere in Haiti.  We expect letters to take longer to get delivered in the short term as so many of our National Office staff are seconded to disaster-response efforts.

Will this impact Christmas celebrations?

It is too early to know, especially for the beneficiaries and projects likely to be impacted by the disaster.

There should be no impact for those projects not effected directly.  Already Christmas activities around the world this year will be reduced in size in line with COVID measures in different countries.

How can I pray?

Thanks for asking.  We urge you to. Here are some pressing prayer points:

  • Pray for the families living in tents by fear of earthquake aftershocks amid the hurricane season.
  • Pray for people who are sick and who are suffering at home or the hospitals.
  • Pray for those that are grieving the loss of their loved ones.
  • Pray for the local leaders and staff for wisdom and courage in this difficult time.
  • Pray for the rescue workers who continue to search the rubble.
  • Pray for all the church partner staff members and the four Partnership Facilitators living in the area who are accounting for families and providing support while also dealing with how the earthquake impacted their own families.
  • Pray that the fuel shortage that has affected the country over the last year will not impact getting needed supplies into the area.
  • Pray for those who need medical attention that they will be able to get the care they need and that the medical teams will have the supplies they need.
  • Pray for the safety of the region. It has been unsafe to travel in the region for the past months because of gang violence and political instability.
  • Pray for protection for the national office staff members who are travelling to the area to provide support.
  • Pray for the Compassion Haiti staff as this earthquake brings back memories of the traumatic 2010 earthquake in the Port-au-Prince area. Ask God to bring comfort and peace to their hearts and minds.
  • Pray for comfort for the beneficiaries and that Compassion’s response will bring much-needed help to the communities we serve.

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Support Compassion’s local church partners in Haiti who are ensuring children, families and communities have the help they urgently need. 

Give to Compassion’s Haiti Disaster Relief Fund. 

GIVE NOW

Written by: Compassion Canada