UN expert describes 'inhumane' conditions at Haiti hurricane shelters

At least 546 people were killed, and more than 175,000 people were displaced in the storm that hit Haiti on October 4. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Port-au-Prince, Ouest Department, Haiti Oct 25, 2016, 11.24 PM (IST)

Three weeks after the powerful Hurricane Matthew devastated southwestern Haiti, thousands of those displaced by the storm are living in "inhumane" conditions in government-run shelters, a United Nations expert said on Tuesday. 

After a nine-day tour of Haiti, an independent UN human rights observer Gustavo Gallon described the difficult conditions the people were living in. 

"There is no food, no access to health services, no drinking water, and no clean installations and proper toilets," Gallon said shocked at the terrible state of the shelters.

"These people are squeezed into 20 classrooms. They are hungry. There are two babies that were born there without help for delivery, and there are around 20 pregnant women there," he spoke about the Nord Alexis school, which is housing some 3,000 storm refugees, or 525 families, in the town of Jeremie.

Warning of the psychological effects of the trauma, Gallon recalled how a young woman told him "we all became mentally ill."

"The conditions in which these people find themselves in are inhumane and should be resolved immediately," he added.

The hurricane destroyed or heavily damaged more than 770 schools, and the schools that were unaffected have been taken over by thousands of displaced families. 

Given the great stress suffered by storm refugees, many of whom lost everything, Gallon was perplexed by Haitian authorities' orders to prepare to resume classes.

At least 546 people were killed, and more than 175,000 people were displaced in the storm that hit Haiti on October 4.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
 

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