Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti on Oct. 4, 2016, assaulting the southern coast with 233-km-per-hour winds and causing extensive devastation. The Category 4 storm destroyed homes, crops and livestock, cut off transportation routes, and caused widespread human suffering. The latest figures from the governmental Directorate of Civil Protection of Haiti have so far confirmed 546 deaths and many more injured as a result of the hurricane. Matthew was the worst natural disaster to strike the island nation since the 2010 earthquake.
MINUSTAH actively assisted with recovery efforts in the immediate aftermath and weeks following the storm.
The worst part of the storm hit the south western peninsula of Haiti, with the cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie receiving the full force, sustaining wind and water damage across wide areas.
Humanitarian Aid Distribution
UN peacekeepers assisted in providing relief to the people of Haiti through the distribution food, water and medicine to those most affected by the storm.
UN peacekeepers, along with UN Police, Formed Police Units and HNP conducted patrols to as a show of force to curtail any criminal activities in the wake of the hurricane. UN units also ensured aid was distributed in an orderly and secure manner.
MINUSTAH engineer units were among the first organizations to come to the aid of Haitians on the western peninsula of the country, which was hardest hit by the hurricane. Troops put their expertise and heavy equipment to use clearing debris and repairing infrastructure after the storm.
Following widespread protests after the 2015 national elections in Haiti, the runoff originally scheduled for Dec. 27, 2015 was postponed several times. In April 2016, the Provisional Electoral Council announced that a fresh presidential election would be held on Oct. 9. That race was further postponed due to Hurricane Matthew, which made landfall in Haiti on Oct. 4. The election was rescheduled and conducted on Nov. 20. Election observers and the Provisional Electoral Council offered broadly positive assessments, and the day was accompanied by minimal violence.
The MINUSTAH military component facilitated the democratic process by distributing election materials to remote areas, partnering with UN Police and Haitian National Police on joint patrols, providing security via overt deterrence, and facilitating the safe return of election materials to tabulation centers after polls closed.
Elections Material Delivery & Collection
MINUSTAH assisted the Haitian government in delivering election material to remote parts of the country by providing ground support, air support, and security.
In preparation for the elections, UN peacekeepers with the military component partnered with UN Police and the Haitian National Police to form quick reaction forces that would be on standby to deploy to troubled areas up request of the Haitian government.
Election Day Security
The MINUSTAH military component provided deterrence that contributed to a secure environment on election day.
During the election on Nov. 20, the public school in the locality of Mombin Crochú functioned as a polling center in the Northeast department of Haiti. This polling center was staffed by URUPERBAT, the MINUSTAH battalion comprised of troops from Uruguay and Peru. During the week the soldiers camped near the school, they noticed that part of the building structure showed significant damage and was in danger of falling. On the initiative of the URUPERBAT staff, in early December a team of masons, painters and gardeners went to the school with a joint patrol of UN Police and the Haitian National Police. A part of the structure of the school was repaired, and afterward a snack was given to the children and residents in the area.