As if Haiti doesn’t have enough to deal with, gang activity is now complicating earthquake relief efforts. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattled southern Haiti on August 14, and the death toll rose over the weekend to 2,200. At least 340 others are still missing.
Mission Aviation Fellowship 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.
Dave McCleery with MAF says, “There’s gang activity that has affected Port-au-Prince, the capital, for a long time…. But specifically, the gangs have taken control of an area of Port-au-Prince that has closed the main road into the southern peninsula where this earthquake took place. And because of that, that whole area of Haiti has been cut off.
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“When you’re talking that quantity of aid that’s needed, if the road access is cut off because of gang activity, that is a real concern. We can certainly fly needed cargo in, but it’s much more expensive and takes a lot longer than if it’s able to be accessed by road.”
The Haitian government recently negotiated with the gangs to leave the area and re-open the road.
But McCleery says, “I don’t know how long that’s going to last. As supplies start coming through there for aid for the affected area, at some point I would guess that the gangs will come back…and start stopping those shipments and demanding part of the shipment. It may become dangerous again.”
To further complicate things, MAF only has one plane for relief efforts. Their other airplane is waiting on critical parts for repairs, but the supply chain has been slowed because of COVID-19.
MAF also has limited personnel available. “We have a disaster response department, but they have been responding to other emergencies in Africa and Central Asia. And so we have less staff mobilized in this situation,” McCleery says.
Despite several challenges, the ministry is committed to serving Haiti’s earthquake victims and offering Christ’s hope.
They’ve joined arms with other organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and Missionary Flights International to advance aid efforts.
One ministry near the border of the Dominican Republic, Danita’s Children, called MAF to transport three doctors and five nurses as well as 800 pounds of medical equipment.
McCleery says, “Definitely pray for the needed aid to come, but also that the aid can get to the affected areas.”
Written by Lyndsey Koh. This story originally appeared at Mission Network News and is republished here with permission.