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Should I Stay or Should I Go? Charities' Response Amid Haiti's Violent Unrest

   Mar 13, 2024

(This post was originally published on March 13, 2024. It has been updated with new information as of June 6, 2024.)

Violence in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince recently escalated as heavily armed gangs attacked the National Palace, setting afire with petrol bombs part of the Interior Ministry, the BBC reported. Haiti’s international airport suffered sustained attacks, closing all flights, including one carrying Prime Minister Ariel Henry whose plane was refused permission to land. The United States and European Union have been evacuating non-essential personnel.


But what about charities? Some international aid organizations have worked in Haiti to provide temporary aid after natural disasters, while others have maintained ongoing operations in the country for many years to provide access to healthcare, food, and clean drinking water.


CharityWatch reached out to some of our Top-Rated charities known to have worked in Haiti in the past to ask if they are continuing to provide aid amid the escalating violence and political instability in the country. We hope you will consider making a donation to one of these essential organizations today.

Direct Relief has been actively involved in humanitarian efforts, including providing aid to Haiti in response to various crises, such as natural disasters and health emergencies, for many years. During this time, Direct Relief has maintained a strong relationship with its network of health care focused organizations in Haiti and continues to work to support ongoing response. 

According to the charity:

“Direct Relief this month granted $1 million in funding to nine local organizations in Haiti to help offset the increased costs associated with operating in the country… In addition to the $1 million in grant funding, Direct Relief has provided more than $3.2 million in medical aid to 11 healthcare organizations in Haiti since March 2023.”

“Direct Relief is not currently accepting restricted donations for Haiti on its website. However, if people are interested in restricting their donation to Haiti, they can do so by emailing 
[email protected]. People can make an unrestricted gift to Direct Relief by visiting www.directrelief.org/donate.

“Direct Relief is committed to supporting Haiti through the immediate crisis and on a long-term basis through collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and its network of health care focused organizations operating on the ground."

Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF, operates medical facilities and health programs in and around the capital Port-au-Prince and in Haiti's South region. All medical facilities provide care free of charge to patients.

According to the charity:

“We saw an increase in patients with gunshot wounds and patients with traumatic injuries due to the escalating violence and political unrest since February 28. In response, we added 25 beds for trauma patients at our hospital in Tabarre, reaching a temporary total of 75 beds for trauma patients in the facility. We accelerated our timetable for opening the Carrefour trauma hospital and for reopening the Turgeau emergency center due to the increased needs since February 28. Since the escalation of the violence from February 28 onward, we have temporarily suspended mobile clinics in several areas of Port-au-Prince and intend to begin them again when it is safe to do so.”

“We collect donations globally for our programs and are not asking donors to restrict their donations specifically for Haiti at this time. For this reason we do not have a web page currently soliciting restricted donations for Haiti. Donors may, however, restrict their donation to our Haiti programs if they choose, by contacting our
donor services team.

Please see our website doctorswithoutborders.org for updates on our Haiti operations and on other contexts."

Lutheran World Relief (LWR) operates across Haiti with a large in-country team. LWR, which is part of the Corus International family of organizations, has been reaching families and communities in Haiti since 1997 through programs in agriculture, healthcare delivery and emergency response.

According to the charity:

"We are working in collaboration with local organizations in several departments in Haiti, providing critical health care services, including immunizations, cholera treatment, antenatal care, labor and delivery, nutrition interventions and HIV prevention and treatment. We are also eliminating the spread of lymphatic filariasis, a disease prevalent in Haiti, by administering highly effective antiparasitic drugs in communities most [at] risk. And we are continuing emergency responses efforts, including repairing health centers and improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene."

"Our office in Port-au-Prince remains open despite the political instability, to guarantee the continuation of activities. Strategic monitoring of the situation is carried out daily, our decisions are based on our evaluation of the situation. For now, we operate on an adjusted schedule, some days in office, some days remotely."

"We do not plan to evacuate any staff or partners. Indeed, we intend to continue our activities in Haiti at this time of critical need."

Donations can be made here

Medical Teams International was operational in Haiti for several humanitarian emergencies occurring between 1994-2017. However, Medical Teams is not currently operating in Haiti. 

According to the charity:

“Medical Teams has a long history of health-focused, humanitarian presence and effective partnerships in Haiti. We are deeply concerned about the current violence and instability in the country. Because of our commitment to serving people in crisis around the world, we are closely monitoring the situation to determine if and how we can be of support. However, Medical Teams’ support to partners in Haiti ended in 2023, and we do not foresee working with partners for this response.”

“Because the current situation threatens to unravel relief and development work that has been achieved in recent decades, Medical Teams would like to encourage individuals and organizations to do what they can to support health-focused charities on the ground in Haiti. In addition to having high poverty levels and being prone to natural disasters, the country has fragile health systems and infrastructure. Haitians desperately need reliable healthcare and other essential services, now more than ever.”

Mercy Corps has worked in Haiti since 2010. Currently, Mercy Corps is providing emergency cash assistance to 32,500 people and more than 700 small businesses in three departments, including Port-au-Prince. Since 2019, Mercy Corps has also been working to reduce violence and help young people pursue opportunities through financial inclusion and life skills training, reaching more than 8,000 adolescents. 

According to the charity:

“Our staff remain in the country and we are continuing with our ongoing program providing emergency cash assistance to help people who are in need of urgent support and in some cases have been displaced multiple times by violence. Our office in Port au Prince remains open but on an adjusted schedule to ensure staff traveling to and from their homes as well as to and from our program locations remain safe. The security and safety of our staff are our top priority and decisions about staff travel, work schedule and location are assessed daily. Currently, we remain operating and implementing our programs in the communities despite significant challenges such as roadblocks and protests that are unpredictable and impact country leadership’s decision-making daily. The vast majority of our staff are Haitian and live in the communities where we work. Some have been forced to leave their homes and stay with family or friends.”

“Donors to Mercy Corps are welcome to direct their donations to Haiti when making a donation here
. Donors can always “self-restrict” – that is, they can make a comment with their donation noting that they would like to direct it to Haiti, and it will go to support our programs in Haiti.”  

Partners In Health (@PIH) / X

Zanmi Lasante, as 
Partners in Health is known in Haiti, has been providing high-quality healthcare services to Haitians for over four decades. Despite the ongoing challenges, the charity continues to operate in the country and provide health care to those who have limited or no access to it. The caregivers at Zanmi Lasante are relied upon by 1.3 million people, equaling roughly 1 in 10 people in the country. Zanmi Lasante’s (ZL) operations are concentrated in the Central Plateau and lower Artibonite regions. The services ZL offers are diverse and address a wide range of medical needs. 

According to the charity:

“We are currently accepting donations specifically for Haiti relief 
(best link HERE), which will help support our staff and patients through a range of healthcare services. Our services include HIV care and programming, deploying mobile food clinics with a focus on children suffering from malnutrition, and our Journey to 9 Plus program that provides comprehensive care for pregnant women and their newborns.”

“Ensuring the safety and well-being of our staff and patients is our top priority, and we are glad to report that everyone remains safe at this time. Our team is closely monitoring the security situation throughout the country to ensure that our staff and personnel are out of harm’s way. For medical students completing their residency, we have safely accommodated them at ZL facilities, providing reliable electricity and internet access.”

“To continue reaching as many patients as possible, Zanmi Lasante is leaning on its wide network, referring patients from clinics and hospitals in conflict zones to more secure facilities, and adapting and innovating. For example, patients who require periodic outpatient visits are being provided with enough medication to self-administer at home, reducing the need for dangerous travel. ZL is also transporting supplies in vehicles that don’t look like ready targets to avoid potential carjackings and assaults. During this time, staff stay on-site longer to limit risky travel, and ZL provides them with food and hygiene kits. Vulnerable patients are also receiving food and hygiene kits. Additionally, PIH and ZL are building a temporary warehouse for medicines and more, located near healthcare facilities.”

Project HOPE implements a primary health care program that involves mobile clinics, water and sanitation (WASH), and Mental Health activities in the departments of Nipes, Sur and Grand'anse. Donations to Project HOPE for its programs in Haiti can be made here. 

According to the charity:

At the national level, specifically in Port-au-Prince, the security situation has had a direct impact on Haitians and the nonprofits like us that serve them, given that most government entities are not functioning or are only functioning intermittently, and medical supplies and humanitarian assistance is limited. We've noticed a significant uptick in migration of people fleeing the violence in Port-au-Prince and heading south, which has exponentially increased the demand for support. While the security context is directly affecting Project HOPE's activities, we are continuing to operate mobile medical units, distribute hygiene kits, promote health and hygiene activities, and support mental health needs." 

Save the Children in Haiti continues to operate in the country with the support and collaboration of local partners working in programs area. Donations can be made 

According to the charity:

“Currently, our international staff is working remotely, outside of Haiti. Close monitoring of the security situation is done daily, and necessary precautions are being taken to ensure national staff safety and security and the communities we serve. This monitoring also informs organizational response strategy to upcoming humanitarian needs. The country office is constantly evaluating the impacts on programs and reassessing the needs of the population in Port-au-Prince for an adapted response.”

“Our organization is working tirelessly to find ways to address the urgent needs of children forced to flee from their houses due to the violence in Port-au-Prince. We aim to provide assistance to more than five thousand families. This really represents a small portion compared to the huge number of families in need. This is why we are calling and pressing for more support to address the growing needs of populations.  We are also constantly assessing the situation and ready to provide immediate emergency aid, emergency shelter, distributing food, dignity kits, non-food articles and hygiene kits, psychosocial support, and establishing safe spaces for children to receive support and education.”  


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