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Aftermath of 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Les Cayes

How to help Haitians after 7.2 magnitude earthquake

A deadly earthquake in Haiti over the weekend has dealt another devastating blow to the nation mired in political crisis.

At least 1,419 people have died and some 6,000 are injured following the earthquake. Tens of thousands more are displaced — officials say over 7,000 homes were destroyed and 5,000 are damaged. In some places, rescue efforts have been affected by landslides cutting off roads. Tropical Storm Grace hit the southwestern part of the country — where the earthquake struck the hardest — with heavy rainfall Monday, forcing the Haitian government to temporarily pause its response.

Saturday’s earthquake was centered in Nippes, 78 miles west of Port-au-Prince but could be felt as far away as Jamaica. The U.S. Geological Survey said aftershocks could continue for weeks.

Chronic poverty, widespread gang violence and political instability will complicate the nation’s ability to recover from the latest disaster. The government is particularly fragile after Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July. The country is immersed in political turmoil as none of the suspects detained for the assassination have been taken to court, over a month after the president was killed–raising questions about how the country can come together in times of political and natural crises.

Like the rest of the world, Haiti is also still in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Vaccinations for COVID-19 had begun less than two weeks before when the earthquake struck. Officially, Haiti has seen more than 20,500 COVID-19 cases and 570 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University, but a lack of robust testing suggests that the true number is far higher.

Saturday’s earthquake was more powerful than the 2010 earthquake, which killed an estimated 230,000 people and injured 300,000. Recovery efforts for the 2010 earthquake took years, and investigations have raised whether victims ever received much of the money raised.

As the crises across Haiti compound, here are some ideas for how to help:

  • UNICEF is working with the government and humanitarian aid groups to help vulnerable children and families. Medical kits to support 30,000 people have already been delivered to the Les Cayes port and medical, health and sanitation supplies are on the way. Donate here to help support that effort.
  • Donate to Project HOPE, a nonprofit that is sending out an emergency response team to help the country.
  • Humanity and Inclusion has worked in Haiti since 2008 responding to natural disasters and are launching efforts specifically in rehabilitation, mental health and psychological needs in response to the earthquake. Donate to them here.
  • Hope for Haiti has a stockpile of emergency kits ready to distribute to individuals and families. The organization consists of Haitian doctors, nurses and program managers. Donations can be made through Hope for Haiti’s website. The nonprofit is also accepting cryptocurrency donations.
  • Save the Children is accepting donations to continue their work with children and families in Haiti and help distribute aid.
  • World Vision has pre-prepared supplies to provide immediate humanitarian aid to 6,000 people. Donate here.
  • The Greater Miami Jewish Federation established a relief fund to help victims of the earthquake. Donate on their website, or for more information on donating, call 305-576-4000.
  • The United Way and the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald have activated Operation Helping Hands to help victims of the Haiti earthquake. Donate through their website or call 800-226-3320.
  • Catholic Relief Services is working with local partners to coordinate the delivery of life-saving supplies, including tarps, blankets, medical supplies, food, and clean water. You can donate to relief efforts for Haiti here.
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is providing medical supplies to hospitals and residents. Donate here.
  • Church World Service is providing housing reconstruction, trauma recovery support and water infrastructure repairs in the municipality of Pestel. Donate on their website.

How to avoid charity scams

  • Avoid unfamiliar agencies and websites. According to Charity Navigator, several domain names were taken that led people to “donation” pages just hours after the 2010 earthquake, that in reality, were a scam.
  • Beware of phone calls and emails soliciting donations.
  • Do your research to determine if organizations are legitimate. Charity Navigator lists reputable organizations. Great Nonprofits and Give Well has reviews of nonprofit groups and can help you see how much of your money goes directly to relief.