Hurricane Matthew has affected several Caribbean islands. Southwestern Haiti is, so far, the worst hit. Through the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), Sweden is therefore sending several experts to Haiti in order to assist UN and EU humanitarian support to mitigate the consequences for the population.
Access to clean water has high priority, in order to reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses. The first cases of cholera have already been reported from Haiti. Through MSB, Sweden will send an expert on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). An expert for the UN coordination team has been on site in Jamaica since earlier. An additional expert is en route to Haiti to reinforce the UN team.
Sweden will also assist with a Technical Assistance Support Team (TAST) which is departing Sweden on October 7. The following capabilities are part of the team:
- Materials for information/communication
- Basic office materials
- Temporary housing solutions for field staff (personal tents)
- Information Communication Technology (ICT)
- Logistics and administration
Haiti's request for support
On October 3, the government of the Republic of Haiti officially requested assistance from UN local coordinators in the capital of Port-au-Prince. On October 4, ERCC received a request for help from UN OCHA in assisting UNDAC's deployment to Haiti. The request includes support from experts in different fields.
Facts about Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane (Tropical Storm) Matthew struck Haiti on October 4 with strong winds, powerful rain, and rising water levels. The hurricane has forced hundreds of thousands to seek temporary protection. Matthew was classified as Category Four (extremely dangerous) when it struck the Haitian coast with maximum continuous winds of approximately 230 km/h. In the larger cities, damage to infrastructure is feared to be great. Among other things, an important bridge connecting Port-au-Prince and the cities of Les Cayes and Jérémie has been demolished.
Risk of great damage
The effects of Matthew could be long-term. Major damage is expected, not only to buildings but also to crops, livestock, and other sources of income for a population that is already vulnerable. Waterborne illnesses – primarily cholera – risk wide dissemination and entail a risk for people.
The team is expected to contribute to ensuring efficient, rapid, and suitable assessments of need. These will be in support of efficient planning and prioritising in the EU, the UN, and the government agencies responsible.