With Haiti isolated from the world, supplies are dwindling and its crisis is worsening

With Haiti isolated from the world, supplies are dwindling and its crisis is worsening

As photojournalist Giles Clarke walked through the maternity ward of a hospital in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, he asked a doctor why it was so dark.

“We only have a few lights working and we depend on generators, which are expensive to supply,” said Dr. Petit-Frère Arabella, resident maternity doctor at Justinien University Hospital. “We also don’t have running water because the hospital’s main pump is not working.”

The hospital staff, like many in Haiti right now, are doing the best they can with the little they have. The Caribbean nation, battling an epidemic of deadly gang violence and political instability, faces a humanitarian crisis. Supplies are scarce since little enters the country.

“The airport, port and roads are closed,” Jacob Burns, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders, told Clarke. “We have not received any major medical supplies in weeks.”

Food has also been difficult to come by, although the World Food Program has been trying to fill the gaps. But their supplies are also dwindling and there have been shortfalls in donor funding for the UN Humanitarian Response Plan.

Clarke was able to return to the capital, Port-au-Prince, earlier this month on a World Food Program helicopter. In addition to visiting some of the few functioning medical facilities, she also photographed chaotic displacement sites and dilapidated schools occupied by people who have fled gang violence.

“The city I knew and have visited for the past 14 years is now a full-blown war zone in many areas,” he said. “The streets where we drove 12 weeks ago are now empty and under gang control – ‘no-go zones’. The General Hospital where I met with doctors, nurses and patients in February was no longer in operation and is now occupied by a gang and “is being used as a launching point for attacks against the nearby National Palace.”

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry resigned last month and handed power to a transitional council. Haiti now awaits the deployment of a multinational security support force, led by Kenya.

“Contractors are furiously building temporary shelters for them near the airport, but there are probably only a few hundred,” Clarke said. “Meanwhile, the gang leaders have vowed to fight to the last man to drive them out.”