While Haiti was spared severe wind damage from Hurricane Tomas, flooding killed eight people and threatens to worsen a serious cholera epidemic. 1.3 million people are living in unspeakably crowded and filthy condition eleven months after an earthquake killed as many as 300,000. On Monday, the Haitian Ministry of Population (MSPP) released new figures indicating at least 8,138 cholera patients and 544 deaths in five regions or "departments." Artibonite, Centre, Nord, Nord-Ouest, and Ouest all registered cases. This is serious news, since it means that the contagion has spread from the "epicenter" of the outbreak in Artibonite, to the north and northwestern parts of Haiti. The epidemic is a little more than two weeks old.
Anger is increasing under shredded tarps, which the media insists on identifying as "tents." Residents of Camp Corail-Cesselesse, Haiti's flagship IDP camp, were evacuated prior to Tomas from what the government and aid groups once called "hurricane-proof" tents. The previously white nylon tents are now looking more and more like the dirty shredded tarps found in adjacent Camp Canaan, whose 5,581 residents were not offered the luxury of protection as the storm approached. They may have been better off than the people of Corail, who offered testimony that they were moved to an abandoned hospital and housed no better than some of the farm animals that joined them there.
Man repairing his "hurricane proof" tent in Camp Corail
If cholera should enter any one of these camps the outcome will be catastrophic.
We have written volumes about conditions in these two camps, and will continue to do so.
For now, listen to testimony from Camp Corail and ask yourself where the money has gone, why 1.3 million people are living in these conditions, and why upwards of 16,000 "charitable" organizations find themselves unprepared for an outbreak of diarrheal disease. Cholera was unpredictable and we will look at its origins in the coming days, but an epidemic of disease was inevitable.
Here is the story from a man living in Camp Corail, taken on November 6. It is time we started listening to the Haitian people. The truth resides with them and in their testimony. Listen as he asks if media organizations have been paid to lie about life in the camps.
Hopefully, you will be outraged as he describes aid workers arriving in expensive SUVs while he "lives in misery."
"It is only God's will that we are still alive."
This was our third visit to Haiti since the earthquake, and what this man says is completely accurate.
Photos and video by G. Nienaber November 6, 2010. Please take and use.
Cross-posted HERE on Huffington Post.