Haiti earthquake: How CAFOD is responding and how you can help
16 August 2021
A devastating magnitude-7.2 earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday 14 August at around 8.30am local time. As the search continues through the rubble, the current death toll is more than 1,200 people and up to 6,000 people are injured.
Buildings have collapsed including an estimated 10,000 homes, churches, schools and hospitals. The southern peninsula is a remote area of the island, and fears are now growing that tropical storm Grace will add further to the urgent humanitarian needs of vulnerable people.
Many churches have also been damaged by the earthquake. In Les Cayes, the residence of Cardinal Chibly Langlois, bishop of the diocese and president of the Haitian Bishops' Conference, was damaged, and the Cardinal was injured. A priest staying in the bishop’s residence was killed.
Saturday’s earthquake was stronger than the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in 2010, that killed more than 200,000 people.
What is the current situation in Haiti?
The Haitian government has declared a state of emergency for a month. The earthquake could not have come at a worst time for Haiti, which is still recovering from hurricane Matthew after it struck the country in 2016.
Colliding with this dire humanitarian situation is political instability after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on 7 July and the coronavirus pandemic, which is greatly worsening the already fragile humanitarian situation. More than 4.4 million people are in need of basic aid – food, water, shelter, for their daily survival.
Your generosity means that CAFOD has already pledged £50,000 to local Church partners on the frontline of the humanitarian response. Your support will allow them to scale up their response and reach more people with urgently needed food, clean water, tents, tarpaulins, blankets and hygiene kits.
"The needs of the population are immense. There is an absolute demand for food, water, tents, hygiene kits and first aid."
Father Jean-Herve Francois, Director of Caritas Haiti
How are CAFOD and local experts responding to the earthquake?
We are working with local Church organisations, Caritas, the Jesuit Migrants and Refugees Service, the religious congregations and sister agency CRS to provide urgent humanitarian aid for families.
Local aid workers are carrying out rapid assessments on the scale of the damage and the immediate needs of people.
Director of Caritas Haiti, Father Jean-Herve Francois, has told CAFOD that:
“The entire Caritas Haiti network, especially the emergency team, is participating in coordination and aid operations in three affected departments. They have already reached there. The needs of the population are immense. There is an absolute demand for food, water, tents, hygiene kits and first aid."
What areas of Haiti have been affected?
According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake struck the southern peninsula of the country – two cities, Les Cayes and Jeremie. The earthquake hit five miles from the town of Petit Trou de Nippes, and about 80 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. These areas are some of the most remote on the island, with poor infrastructure.
What is the Catholic Church in the region saying?
In a letter of solidarity, the Catholic Church of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) and the wider church wrote:
“As the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, we want to express our closeness and solidarity with our Haitian sisters and brothers and with the Church on pilgrimage in Haiti, in view of the possible human losses and material damage caused by the tragedy.
"We express in particular our affection and communion with the People of God through our brother bishops, sisters and religious men and women, priests, lay men and women, who, as a Samaritan Church and in missionary outreach, are witnesses of God's mercy, especially among the most needy and vulnerable."
At the end of the Angelus, Pope Francis called for prayers for Haiti, and for global solidarity. He offered his encouragement to the survivors and hopes that the help of the international community might reach them: "May the solidarity of all alleviate the consequences of the tragedy!"