HI staff with a partner beneficiary at the rehabilitation center in the Cayes, Haiti after the earthquake. 2021 | © R.CREWS-HI
Vulnerable people and people with disabilities are at even greater risk of harm following the earthquake. HI is determined to put protection at the forefront of the response
In the aftermath of the August 14 earthquake in Haiti, gender, age and disability put people disproportionately at risk of vulnerability. HI is keeping inclusion and protection at the forefront of its emergency response to ensure that no one is left behind.
"Protection is a major source of concern right now," says Anissa Bouachria, HI emergency area manager.
"Anyone who is dependent on care from someone else is more likely to be neglected in times of crisis."
"At a certain point, people are forced to prioritize their own needs before others', which means that the needs of children, older people, people with disabilities and women are often forgotten. We're seeing cases where injuries have worsened due to neglect, and acts of violence against these individuals are increasing."
Not only is it more likely for needs to be neglected, but risk of deliberate harm has also risen. Many have lost their homes, leaving them without shelter or safety. With no electricity or running water, women and children must use bathroom facilities that may be isolated and poorly lit, further exposing them to danger. Distribution of food and basic needs are often completed without access for people with disabilities, leaving them without important supplies.
As an expert actor in Inclusive Humanitarian Action, HI is intentional in making sure that people at risk of neglect receive essential care and that safety measures are taken when planning solutions. In the ongoing cluster meetings to coordinate humanitarian response with other actors, HI serves as a key advocate for ensuring that protective measures are taken into consideration.
"It's a transversal topic that should be a priority for anyone intervening in this crisis," Anissa says. "It applies when treating the wounded or distributing supplies, and making sure people have a safe way to get home after an emergency evacuation. It also needs to be an integral part of coordinating aid with other actors. For example, if there is a need that we cannot fulfil, we need to know where people can find that service and how."