Displaying items by tag: Caribbean
As if Haiti doesn’t have enough to deal with, gang activity is now complicating earthquake relief efforts. The earthquake death toll stands at 2,200 with at least 340 still missing. Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) is conducting emergency medical flights and flying in aid. But since the roads aren’t a great option for transporting relief, the need is overwhelming. MAF’s Dave McCleery says, ‘Gang activity has affected Port-au-Prince for a long time. They have taken control of and closed the main roads into the southern peninsula where the earthquake took place. This is a real concern because of the large quantity of aid that’s needed. We can certainly fly in and deliver it, but it’s much more expensive and takes a lot longer than if it’s delivered by road.’
The devastation grows daily following a 7.2 magnitude earthquake killing over 2,000 and injuring 10,000; many are still missing. Tropical storm Grace hovered directly over the quake-ravaged portion of Haiti for two days, adding more misery to displaced survivors. Many hospitals are damaged. Medics attempt to transfer patients to Port-au-Prince. One hospital is treating severely injured victims in tents outside the building. On 18 August people were still arriving with broken limbs. Storm Grace has hindered humanitarian aid or the need to assess the extent of the damage. UNICEF said aid to 1.2 million people, including 540,000 children, will cost $15 million. 385,000 are most urgently in need; 167,000 are children. Thousands of buildings were destroyed. People camp out in fields where UNICEF distributes blankets, hygiene and kitchen kits, plus shelter repair items for 30,000 people. They need medical staff, supplies, and full access to electricity and water. Dictatorships and natural disasters have left 59% of Haitians living in poverty. Pray for political stability.
15,500+ have fled Port-au-Prince. Homes, churches, businesses and schools have been burnt down or occupied by gangs. Haiti’s president was attacked in his home and killed. Tearfund works closely with the League of Pastors, a network of church leaders in Port-au-Prince. As soon as the violence escalated, they set up shelters for those who had fled, and Tearfund provided food, hygiene kits, and cash assistance for other essential needs. The shelters were soon overcrowded, so church leaders opened their homes. They also wanted to help the gang members. So the League of Pastors nominated leaders in their churches to be trained in peacebuilding and conflict-resolution skills. It is hoped this will lead to community dialogues with gang members and bring about healing and restoration in their communities and peace for Haiti. The church continues to be a refuge and a hope to people during this crisis, but the situation remains critical.
Historic and spontaneous protests rocked Cuba on 11 July, taking the communist government and the international community by surprise by their intensity and numbers. Analysts say there will not be immediate changes to one-party communist rule, but it’s a watershed moment and they have put an enormous amount of pressure on the government to speed up reforms. Cubans experiencing food and medicine shortages, increasing Covid-19 cases, inflation, rising prices and long power cuts chanted ‘Freedom’ and ‘We want change’, while holding signs that read ‘Down with dictatorship’. Journalist Yoani Sánchez tweeted, ‘We were so hungry, we ate our fear.’ Dr. Teo Babun said dissent has been brewing in the church for months. Evangelicals and Catholics have been generating a tremendous amount of social media, demanding the government pay attention to the hurt taking place. Political changes depend on whether demonstrators continue the momentum that stunned so many on 11 July.
President Moïse was assassinated on 7 July amid rising political tensions and violence. He was killed after pursuing an aggressive agenda, including rewriting the country’s constitution. The Bishops' Conference said the proposed changes to Haiti’s constitution while in the middle of a socio-political crisis were not wise. Vatican News reported violence had escalated under Moïse’s rule, and the Haitian people were bearing the brunt of it. The bishops wrote, ‘The daily life of the Haitian people is reduced to death, murders, impunity and insecurity. Discontent is everywhere, in almost all areas.’ They called on Moïse to step down as his five-year term had expired in February. Jamaica’s prime minister said, ‘The assassination is a stain on Haiti and a sorrowful time for the Caribbean. May God be a special covering over his family and over the people of Haiti during this dark time in the nation’s history.’
Haiti, the western hemisphere’s poorest nation, is often devastated by floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, with poverty making these disasters harsher than in richer countries. Money sent home by Haitians overseas saves lives but does not fill Haiti’s biggest needs: roads, bridges, clinics, schools and electricity. 70% of Haitians are Catholics, but many mingle their Catholicism with voodoo, which is rooted in West African animism. Evangelicals have grown in numbers, through love in action and openly standing against voodoo. Pray for good leaders at every level of society and church who will build the nation rather than loot or exploit it. Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Haiti that will transform lives and communities. A truly renewed Catholic Church would be a great force for good. Pray that Catholics re-centre on simple, personal trust in Christ so that God can build their lives.
St Vincent appealed for international help as the nation tackles the daunting cleanup from a series of volcanic eruptions which are ongoing. The island has a population of 110,000, and 20,000 were evacuated from the dire situation where ash is a metre deep and gives the island an apocalyptic appearance. The ash has been carried as far as India, and there has been extensive damage to agriculture, homes and the island's tourism industry. Long-term humanitarian relief will be huge; on 20 April the UN launched an appeal for $29.2 million for basic needs, clean water, food and shelter, and help to initiate recovery. Pray for the team of experts assessing clean up needs and safe disposal of ash to have wisdom from heaven. There is still uncertainty as eruptions continue. Pray for the safety of those cleaning up the ash. Hurricane season starts soon and is forecast to be very active. Pray for the islanders’ fear to be replaced with peace and hope for the future.
Volcanic eruptions on St Vincent have displaced about 20% of the Caribbean island’s population, as a UN official warned of a growing humanitarian crisis. Between 16,000 to 20,000 people were evacuated under government orders when La Soufrière volcano first erupted on 9 April, covering the island with ash that continues to blanket St Vincent, Barbados, and other islands. 6,000 of those evacuees are vulnerable. 20,000 risk food insecurity from loss of livelihoods in fisheries & agriculture. 4,000 are living in 87 government shelters, schools, churches and others are in hotels. Most of the water systems are shut down. Cots, sanitation, hygiene and emergency latrines are urgently needed. Ongoing explosions are causing new pyroclastic flows that could continue for weeks.
Kidnappings for ransom have surged as gangs gain influence amid a political crisis. Seven Catholic clergy, five Haitian and two French, have been kidnapped. The five priests and two nuns were abducted in a commune northeast of Port-au-Prince, while they were on their way to the installation of a new parish priest. The kidnappers demanded $1m ransom for them. The Haitian Conference of Believers said three other people had been kidnapped at the same time. Authorities suspect an armed gang called ‘400 Mawozo’ which kidnaps for ransom. Armed gangs have increased as the nation is rocked by political unrest. Gang violence and political instability has drawn protesters onto the streets at the subhuman situation where the political leaders cling to power, but are increasingly powerless.
Praise God that the International Justice Mission (IJM) has signed its first collaborative agreement with the business sector in the Dominican Republic. IJM and Aerodom, the largest network of airports in the country, are joining forces to bring an end to sex trafficking. They are launching awareness campaigns in the air terminals, equipping their staff to recognise the signs of trafficking, and establish additional protocols to report these crimes to local authorities.