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Haiti: Red Cross response to floods

02-06-2004 News Release 04/71

The Red Cross is concerned about the threat of further mudslides in the Mapou region of southern Haiti.


The Red Cross uses inflatable dinghies to search for bodies - and possibly survivors - in the flood zone, especially in affected homes.©Federation/Marko Kokic/ref. HT-E-00072 

After a helicopter and ground survey of part of the region, the ICRC has identified four villages that it feels face significant risk from mud and rocks in nearby mountains. Meanwhile, volunteers from the Haitian Red Cross have been helping to collect information on the needs of those affected by the flooding.


" In the village of Bawa, about 150 households are in danger, " warns the ICRC’s deputy head of delegation in Haiti, Jean-Jacques Frésard. A total of 65 bodies have already been buried in the village since the flash flood at the beginning of last week and another 32 people are still listed as missing. In St Michel, 40 bodies have been buried and another 30 people are still missing. Two other villages, Nan Gallettes and Naroche, were also identified as being at risk from further mudslides. On Sunday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delivered plastic sheeting for the construction of temporary shelters in less dangerous areas where residents could seek refuge in case of heavy rains.

A doctor from the Frech Red Cross assists a patient at the field hospital in Mapou.©Federation/Marko Kokic/ref. HT-E-00073 

Last Thursday, a Red Cross team carried out an initial assessment in Mapou, delivering water purification tablets, body bags, picks and shovels. On Friday, the team returned to the area   and an ICRC water and shelter engineer and a doctor and a logistics specialist from the French Red Cross took up temporary residence there, in order to organize local volunteers, establish a basic health clinic, and begin the work of recovering and burying bodies. The health clinic, which is staffed by the Red Cross, Cuban doctors and MDM Canada, is handling numerous cases of illness and infection as well as a few cases of fractures and cuts caused during the collapse of tin roofs.

They have since been joined by representatives of the Haitian and the Netherlands Red Cross Societies and the International Federation. Red Cross workers say that to date over 370 bodies have been recovered in the Mapou region. They estimate that throughout the region as many as 1,500 people are missing. On Saturday, a 15-foot inflatable boat was airlifted to Mapou, enabling the Red Cross to expand its search to the vast areas still under water.

Red Cross response to the disaster in the Mapou area was coordinated from last week by the ICRC because of the personnel and facilities the organization had established in Haiti during the violence that shook the country earlier this year. The International Federation is sending staff and supplies to Haiti and is now assuming the overall direction of the Red Cross response.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Bernard Barrett, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel. ++509 525 62 68  

 Marko Kokic, International Federation Port-au-Prince, tel. ++509 418 51 20