From the Field

Haiti crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Children wearing navy-and-white gingham school uniforms sit at a lunch table with red plates holding their meals.

In recent decades, Haiti has suffered numerous natural disasters and crises. The current situation in Haiti is dire, with 5.2 million people in need of humanitarian aid due to mounting sociopolitical instability, gang violence, and a cholera epidemic. Gang-related crimes in Haiti have reached an alarming level, with increasing violence, armed robberies, and kidnappings.

FAQs: Haiti in crisis

Explore facts and FAQs, and learn what you need to know to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable Haitians.

Fast facts: the crisis in Haiti

  • Haiti is one of the most impoverished nations in the Western Hemisphere and is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.
  • An estimated 5.2 million people in Haiti will need life-saving humanitarian aid in 2023. More than half are children and women.
  • The number of people living in extreme poverty continues to rise; 31% of the population makes less than $2.15 per day.
  • Over 160,000 people are displaced due to the recent turmoil, with a quarter of them living in makeshift settlements.
  • As many as 300 criminal gangs, with up to 150 in Port-au-Prince, are infiltrating Haiti’s breadbasket as hunger spreads, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
  • Violence spiked in the first quarter of 2023, with 807 fatalities (a 107% increase from the last quarter of 2022), and 746 injuries (up by 114%). There were also 627 reported kidnappings, representing a 125% increase from the previous quarter, according to U.N. reports.
  • Since the first two cases of cholera were reported in Port-au-Prince in early October 2022, cholera has spread throughout Haiti, resulting in 35,000 suspected cases as of March 2023.
  • A magnitude 7.2 earthquake in August 2021 caused widespread destruction and displacement. Many Haitians continue to recover from the disaster.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

People stand on a collapsed building after a devastating earthquake shook Haiti on August 14, 2021.
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti on August 14, 2021. World Vision has been working for decades to improve the lives of children in Haiti, so while our program areas weren’t near the southern quake-hit zones, we were able to quickly distribute life-saving food supplies and hygiene kits to affected families. We continue to support impacted families with access to food, clean water, sanitation, and housing supplies. (©2021 World Vision)

How long has the crisis in Haiti persisted, and what factors are driving it?

Haiti has experienced a multidimensional crisis for decades, caused by political unrest, economic hardship, and social problems. The assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021 exacerbated the political turmoil and led to widespread violence. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit Haiti hard, worsening economic difficulties and straining an already fragile healthcare system. Natural disasters, including the 2010 earthquake, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and the August 2021 earthquake compounded the hardships facing Haitians.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Who is in charge in Haiti right now?

Currently, the country of more than 11 million people is without elected officials at the presidential, legislative, and mayoral levels, and there are no scheduled elections to replace expired terms. Additionally, there is a political standoff between the government of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who assumed presidential power after Moïse’s assassination, and civil society leaders, amid an escalating security crisis. The prime minister has promised to hold elections but only in safer conditions.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

An aid worker in a World Vision vest looks toward a World Food Programme helicopter waiting on the tarmac.
In partnership with the WFP, World Vision teams prepared shipments of hygiene and baby care kits in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the country in August 2021, leaving an estimated 650,000 people — including about 260,000 children — in need of life-saving aid. (©2021 World Vision/photo by Paola Avello)

How is the crisis affecting the people of Haiti?

With the rise in gang activity, horrific acts of violence are being carried out against innocent civilians.

Snipers shoot randomly in the streets and even into homes, killing or injuring innocent bystanders. Women and girls are experiencing increased sexual violence, with gangs committing these crimes to terrorize and control the population. Gangs are also kidnapping teachers, parents, and students near schools, forcing many to close and leaving children vulnerable to recruitment into armed groups.

As a result of this violence, at least 160,000 people have been displaced from their homes, many staying with friends or relatives in overcrowded conditions without access to basic necessities like clean water and sanitation.

Hunger in Haiti is reaching record levels, with half of the population facing acute hunger and nearly 1 in 5 at the “emergency” phase.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

A girl wearing a turquoise shirt smiles at the camera and claps while other children play with their backs turned.
Even before the recent spike in violence, many Haitians were already struggling, particularly after the August 2021 earthquake. As Haitians work to rebuild after the quake, World Vision continues supporting children impacted by the disaster by providing safe places for them to play and learn. “I come to this World Vision club to play with other children,” said 11-year-old Witchina (shown above). “Here, we know how to jump rope, play soccer, and compete for the title of champion.” (©2022 World Vision/photo by Edson Lubin)

What risks do Haitian children face during this crisis?

The upheaval in Haiti has created a dangerous environment for children. The numerous risks they face include:

  • Exposure to violence. Children may witness or experience violence firsthand, which can have long-lasting physical and psychological effects.
  • Forced recruitment into armed gangs. This exposes them to even greater levels of violence and exploitation.
  • Limited access to education. With schools closing due to a lack of security, children risk falling behind in their studies or missing out on education entirely.
  • Malnutrition and food insecurity. Food shortages and rising prices resulting from the crisis have put children at risk of severe malnutrition and its lasting impacts.
  • Separation from family. The volatile situation has led to displacement and migration, during which children can be separated from their families and lose the protection of their caregivers.
  • Lack of access to healthcare. The violence and instability have disrupted health services, leaving many children without access to essential medical care and vaccinations.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Haitian children dressed in school uniforms line up to wash their hands at an outdoor handwashing station.
Students at a school in Haiti line up to wash their hands before heading to the cafeteria for lunch. Equipping communities in Haiti with lasting access to clean water, improved sanitation, and quality education is critical in reducing poverty. World Vision works in Haiti and worldwide to improve access to these services by reconstructing and supporting schools and health clinics, helping to build water systems, and establishing sanitation facilities. (©2023 World Vision/photo by Guy F. Vital-Herne)

Why is there a cholera epidemic now?

Since the 2010 cholera epidemic in Haiti, cholera has become widespread. The recent surge in cholera cases has affected people across the country, with over 300,000 becoming sick. Of those, more than 2,000 cases have been confirmed through testing, and nearly 600 people have died. Confirming cholera cases is challenging because of its similarity to other illnesses, the time-consuming nature of the tests, and limited access to medical care and resources.

Most cases of cholera, an intestinal infection caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium, result from consuming or coming in contact with contaminated water or food. Disasters like earthquakes, conflict, severe weather conditions, poverty, and lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation can all contribute or lead to an outbreak of cholera.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How is World Vision helping vulnerable Haitians today?

World Vision has been working in Haiti for more than 40 years. Despite the current challenging and unpredictable conditions, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting vulnerable children and families.

In 2022, we supported Haitian children and families in the following ways:

  • Reached 12,971 children with hot meals each day through school food programs
  • Equipped 114,975 children with educational curricula aimed at ending violence in schools
  • Helped 2,156 children obtain birth certificates through community birth registration education and mobile registrations, helping ensure more secure futures for them
  • Provided business and entrepreneurial training skills to 6,700 people

As of early 2023, we have supported 15,645 people with programs that support improved sanitation and hygiene. In addition, we were able to:

  • Distribute 200 hygiene kits for cholera prevention to residents on the Haitian island of La Gonâve
  • Team with community and church leaders to provide vulnerable families with information on COVID-19 prevention and supplies, including hygiene kits, reaching a total of over 2.2 million people
  • Provide seeds to 2,100 households for growing healthy food to support children’s nutrition; more than 5,600 students and their families also received monthly take-home meals from school
  • Partner with 45 schools to offer educational support following emergencies, encouraging ongoing learning for children in the midst of crisis

BACK TO QUESTIONS

A woman in a white dress and matching short-sleeved jacket smiles outside a Haitian school.
World Vision is collaborating with 110 school directors in Artibonite, Cap-Haitien, and Port-au-Prince to improve student health and nutrition with the support of USAID programs. “Most of these children come hungry every morning and if not for this meal would go hungry until late in the afternoon. Because of the food they are [more] alert and learn better,” said Marie Gérald Bernard, principal at École Nationale d’Application de Damien in Port-au-Prince, Haiti (shown above). (©2023 World Vision/photo by Guy F. Vital-Herne)

How can I make a difference and support Haitian children and families?

You can help World Vision continue to respond to emergencies in Haiti and around the world.

  • Pray: Join us in praying for all those affected by the crisis in Haiti. Merciful God, we ask You to orchestrate an end to the crises afflicting the people of Haiti. Father, we pray for the protection of children, women, and men facing unimaginable levels of violence. Please give all those who are hungry enough food to keep them nourished. We ask in Your name that the people of Haiti will find peace, hope, healing, and restoration for their lives and nation.
  • Please give: Help support vulnerable children and families affected by emergencies like the crisis in Haiti.
  • Sponsor a child: Empower a child — and their family and community — for a brighter future by helping to establish lasting access to essentials like clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, quality education, and more.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Haitian girls in school uniforms and wearing blue hair ribbons laugh and clap joyfully.
World Vision has been working to support Haitian children and families affected by the 2021 earthquake, including rebuilding schools and providing educational opportunities. With access to quality education, children like Louisina, Sophie, and Jilienne (shown above at ages 9, 13, and 11) can become lifelong learners with the tools to help transform their communities — and a better chance to experience life in all its fullness. Their smiles reflect their joy for the opportunity to learn and grow. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Guy F. Vital-Herne)

Disaster Relief

View All Stories
Men in reflective gear guide a group of women and children bundled in winter clothing walk with suitcases and backpacks.
From the Field

War in Ukraine: Displacement and refuge

A young blonde girl faces the camera, seated in a learning space. She’s wearing headphones, and an open laptop sits before her.
From the Field

Ukraine crisis: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Latin America/Caribbean

View All Stories
A girl in pigtails smiles from a doorway while holding a red curtain aside.
From the Field

Simple recipe changes help once-underweight Yesica to thrive

A girl sits at a sewing machine, with brightly colored fabric in the foreground.
Prayers

Matthew 25: Prayer for women and girls