After the unspeakable, we speak hope Image

After the unspeakable, we speak hope

The Salvation Army has a longstanding presence in Haiti and will continue helping communities recover long after the immediate response to today's tragic events.

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The Salvation Army Responds to Devastating Earthquake in Haiti

A Salvation Army assessment team in the south of Haiti has sent reports that communities are working together to deal with the devastating after-effects of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck on Saturday 14 August.

The Salvation Army’s initial approach will be to target its response in nine locations. In eight of these, 250 families – more than 1,000 people – will be provided with a tarpaulin, blankets, hygiene kits (including soap, diapers/nappies, sanitary items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, disinfectant and hand sanitiser), drinking water and basic food items such as rice, peas and cooking oil. In the city of Aquin, which has been particularly badly affected, the response will be provided to an even larger number of families.

So far, six locations have been confirmed: Aquin, L’Azile, Duverger, Petite-Rivière, Saint-Louis-du-Sud and Vieux-Bourg-d’Aquin, with a further three still under consideration. The area is well known to Salvation Army emergency responders who provided food and shelter after Hurricane Matthew tore through in October 2016.

In Aquin, a city of more than 100,000 people, at least 860 houses collapsed completely, with around 3,500 other houses showing signs of significant damage. Thirteen people lost their lives and another 100 were injured. Almost 5,000 families are reported by the local authorities to be ‘in difficulty’, which equates to up to a quarter of the entire city. Most churches and municipal buildings have been destroyed or damaged, including the police station, hospital and schools.

A member of the assessment team, Mondesir Henderson, reports: ‘We were able to visit Aquin 24 hours after the earthquake. In this community, almost all the buildings are damaged.

‘Our visit allowed us to notice the state in which people are living since the earthquake happened. They make shelters with sheets and coconut straw. Some take refuge under trees. But the majority of the people sleep in the street.’

After earthquakes, it is not unusual for people to avoid sleeping indoors, even if their houses are still intact. Significant aftershocks are common – sometimes they can be stronger or longer than the original quake – and people can feel safer outdoors.

Despite the difficult situation, Mondesir saw signs of hope, especially from the way that people are pulling together. ‘People put barricades of rocks and debris to prevent vehicles from entering the perimeters,’ he explained. ‘It is out of solidarity that people are trying to overcome the challenges, each one sharing with others.’

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The Salvation Army is going to begin their emergency response in Haiti by focusing on 9 affected communities. Within these communities, 250 family groups will be identified who need the services and support of The Salvation Army. Initial response will include providing clean and safe drinking water, blankets, tarpaulins, food supplies and hygiene kits, including covid-19 mitigating items.

We are in process of evaluating the 9 areas and have successfully evaluated just 1 area so far. Much of the damaged areas are difficult to access as a result of damage, terrain and also security concerns. There is no call at this time for personnel support to go to Haiti but that could be possible later in the response.

At this stage, The Salvation Army USA is collecting donations using so that we can provide for these current needs and prepare for a larger response as the needs are uncovered. Information is coming from our International Headquarters in London, England through the International emergency Services office.

THE Salvation Army in Haiti is responding after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake brought devastation across the south of the country. Almost 1,300 people are known to have been killed in the disaster, with that number certain to rise as collapsed buildings are cleared and thousands of missing people are accounted for.

According to, ‘the earthquake has caused severe damage to infrastructure, including hospitals, especially in Jérémie and Les Cayes’. First reports say that no Salvation Army personnel have lost their lives, but a number of Salvation Army buildings have been seriously damaged – including one corps (church) hall which has completely collapsed. Sunday worship in many locations was held outdoors.

A Rapid Response project has been put together at The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters (IHQ) in London to provide initial funds for food, drinking water and hygiene items. Tents and tarpaulins are also needed, especially as heavy rain sets in from Tropical Storm Grace. Medical support may also be sought from a Salvation Army clinic in Fond-des-Nègres. A relief team has been assembled, supported by Major Kenel Jean (Territorial Emergency Disaster Coordinator, Caribbean Territory).

Damaris Frick, International Emergency Services Director, says that the situation is complicated further by COVID regulations and restrictions. ‘The Prime Minister of Haiti has said he won’t be seeking international help until the first assessments have been carried out,’ she explains, ‘but we are fortunate that many Salvation Army personnel in Haiti have received emergency response training.’

The response is made even more difficult because some roads have been damaged between the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the worst-affected region. There are also major security concerns around any travel through the centre of the country.

General Brian Peddle, The Salvation Army’s international leader, shares through his Twitter account a recollection of a visit he made to Haiti when he found in the country’s young people ‘a deep sense of hope’. He adds: ‘I pray that nothing, even current events, robs the next generation of a good future. Bless Haiti.’


For media queries, please contact:

The Salvation Army World Services Office