IOM Supports Response to Earthquake in Haiti

Aerial view of the debris of one of the buildings flattened by the earthquake that struck Haiti. Photo: Federica Cecchet

Port-au-Prince – As Haiti struggles to cope in the aftermath of a deadly weekend earthquake, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) relief efforts to support national authorities are now also focusing on finding safe buildings where thousands of displaced residents can shelter from an approaching storm likely to cause flash flooding and mudslides.

"The double impact of the earthquake and the imminent storm could increase the number of people seriously affected and will make it even more difficult for the government and the different humanitarian actors to deliver humanitarian aid," said Federica Cecchet, IOM's Deputy Chief of Mission in Haiti. 

According to the U.S. National Hurricane Center, Tropical Depression Grace is expected to cause torrential rains when it hits Haiti late on Monday or early Tuesday.

After the 7.2 earthquake struck on Saturday leaving – according to the last provisional data from the Haitian Civil Protection Directorate (DPC) – close to 1,300 dead, around 3,200 injured and thousands of homes and public buildings destroyed, including schools and hospitals, IOM and other United Nations humanitarian teams are supporting government recovery efforts.

The DPC activated the National Emergency Operation Center (COUN) in Port-au-Prince, and the departmental centers in Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes, the three departments worst affected by the earthquake. IOM teams are supporting official data collection, helping to evaluate losses, and providing lifesaving assistance.

According to preliminary tallies, more than 13,600 homes were destroyed or severely damaged, displacing thousands of residents, 470 of whom have sought protection in often improvised emergency shelters or host families. "These numbers will grow as data collection progresses, and one of the main priorities in the coming weeks will be the proper management of emergency shelters and humanitarian support for thousands of people who are displaced," said Cecchet.

On Saturday afternoon, Cecchet accompanied Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry, the Minister of Justice Rockefeller Vincent, the Director of Civil Protection, Dr Gerard Jerry Chandler, representatives of UN agencies and donors on a reconnaissance flight to the affected areas. The aerial view reveals a bleak picture, Cecchet said. "Although the perception of the destruction is not widespread, the devastating impact on housing, public buildings, and road infrastructure is evident.”

The transport of aid to affected areas will be complicated by destruction and damage to roads and bridges. Some routes have been cut by landslides. On the third day after the quake, humanitarian teams have not yet reached many areas, especially in the department of Nippes.

IOM Haiti, in partnership with the Government, is co-leading the response for Shelter, Non-Food Items (NFI) and Camp Management (CCCM) sectors. Thanks to the support of the US Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), distributions have already started to provide quick, lifesaving assistance to the most vulnerable, including blankets, hygiene kits, jerrycans, repairs material, and tarpaulins.

To reduce the risks associated with COVID-19, IOM will distribute COVID-19 washable masks as part of the NFI distribution activities and disseminate essential COVID-19 awareness and prevention messaging through the distribution of flyers, sound trucks, community outreach and social media.

IOM’s psychologists will provide specialized psychosocial support, including the Prevention of Abuse and Sexual Exploitation (PSEA) and complaint handling.  In addition, IOM’s free 840 hotline remains open to make a complaint or provide feedback, as well as to receive information or psychosocial support.


For more information, please contact Antón Galán Torrego at IOM Haiti, Tel: +509 4612-0436, Email: