Op-Ed / Latin America & Caribbean 1 minutes

Haiti Needs Help

Foreign Troops Might Be the Least Bad Option

In Haiti, violence, hunger, and cholera threaten to kill thousands of people. As conditions grow ever more dire, gangs are preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching those on the brink of death. A record 4.7 million people face acute hunger and almost 20,000 people are enduring “catastrophic hunger,” meaning they are at risk of starving to death, according to an October report from the UN World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Those in greatest danger live in Cité Soleil, the largest slum in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and home to about 260,000 people. The area is controlled by gangs; for the past six months, lawlessness and violence have made it nearly impossible for urgent humanitarian assistance to reach those most in need.

Fighting between rival gangs for the control of roads leading to the capital caused close to 500 deaths over the summer. Violence has effectively severed Port-au-Prince’s 1.5 million people from the rest of the country. Gangs are believed to control 60 percent of Haitian territory and have stopped gasoline, water, and other essentials from reaching communities and have blocked patients trying to reach clinics for urgent medical attention.

The violence and instability have also created conditions for cholera to make a deadly comeback. In February, Haiti declared victory over the disease, which spreads through contaminated water, after fighting it for over a decade. But since then, the lack of fuel has prevented pumps from working, and now, without access to clean water, people are contracting the disease again. The difficulties of getting health care will only hasten mass contagion. There are no reliable figures as to how fast cholera is spreading: the government has recorded 200 deaths and almost 10,000 cases so far, but that is likely a significant underestimate.

The full article can be read on the Foreign Affairs' website.

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