Out of Gas: Fuel Shortage Threatens Health Care System and Women and Girls

A new mom receives supplies from UNFPA in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck in August. Image: UNFPA Haiti.

Gangs have gained greater control in Haiti in recent months following the assassination of Haiti’s president and a massive earthquake. Now, a fuel shortage is racking Haiti, leaving riots, kidnappings, and potentially, closed hospitals in its wake.  

In Haiti, electricity outages are frequent. Fuel is used to power generators that provide electricity to hospitals, institutions, and businesses. But, many of the fuel terminals in Haiti’s capital are located in or around gang-controlled territory. For the last two weeks, gangs have blocked fuel trucks from leaving their territory and have kidnapped drivers. Now, residents of Port-au-Price are rioting against the fuel shortage and spike in violence.  

Gender-based Violence On The Rise

Over 20,000 Haitians have fled their homes due to the violence. © Edris Fortuné

Over 100 people have been abducted this month already, and abductions of women and girls are on the rise. UNFPA has also seen increased reports of gender-based violence in recent months.

Yves Sassenrath, UNFPA’s Representative in Haiti, said, “Protection and health support services must be prioritized for women and girls and other vulnerable groups, such as people living with disabilities. We have interacted with dozens of people in the affected communities since the earthquake and recorded their concerns and fears in an effort to provide adequate and immediate life-saving support. Our urgent task is to ensure that their health, mental well-being, and rights remain at the front and center of our humanitarian response in Haiti.” 

Hospitals Could Close Tomorrow

A newborn delivered at the Saint-Antoine Jeremie Hospital. © UNFPA Haiti/Samuel Lamery Pierre

Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelleiste reported that the fuel shortage could force 40 hospitals, including children’s hospitals and maternity wards, to close across Haiti. Many hospitals only have enough fuel for the next few days. While UN agencies have been successful in purchasing more fuel, drivers refuse to make deliveries because of security concerns.  

Beginning as early as tomorrow, women in need of emergency care, like Caesarean sections, could lose their lives.  

Your support will ensure that even during a crisis, women can safely give birth. Donate today.  

-Dana Kirkegaard


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