Haiti earthquake responses by the British Red Cross

The Red Cross is supporting communities affected by a second deadly Haiti earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak.

(Last updated 20 January 2023)

Cholera breaks out in Haiti amid humanitarian crisis

On 14 August 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, causing 2,248 deaths and injuring 12,763 people.

The devastation reached far and wide, destroying 53,815 homes and damaging 83,770 more. Many people were left without shelter. 28 healthcare centres were completely destroyed along with 64 schools, disrupting education and access to primary healthcare.

Since the earthquake, the situation in Haiti has worsened. Due to damaged infrastructure, a cholera epidemic has been sweeping through parts of Haiti since October 2022. More than 12,541 suspected cases reported by the Ministère de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP) in November, with a further 1,110 cases confirmed and 233 deaths.

Cholera, compounded with high levels of people living without shelter, poverty, internal conflict and a lack of food and water, means that the humanitarian situation in Haiti is rapidly becoming a grave and deepening humanitarian crisis.

How is the Red Cross helping people in Haiti?

The scale of the destruction is immense. As well as the huge humanitarian impact, the earthquake has destroyed homes and damaged hospitals, roads and bridges.

Hospitals and medical centres - already overwhelmed by Covid-19 - have been destroyed, with many injured being treated in the open or under makeshift shelters.

Support from across the Movement

Red Cross emergency specialists are currently being deployed to Haiti to assess the damage and support the immediate response. They will focus on those affected, especially the most vulnerable, such as women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities. Currently:

  • Six Red Cross ambulances are transferring patients that have been evacuated from the affected areas to health care facilities in Port au Prince
  • 25,000 people and 5,000 families reached with essentials, such as blankets, buckets, tarpaulins, kitchen kits, and hygiene kits in the Sud and Nippes departments
  • 32 volunteers mobilised to Restore Family Links in the four affected departments (Ouest, Sud, Grand'Anse and Nippes

Teams from the Haitian Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent will continue to coordinate damage assessments, and provide aid, especially in the southern part of the country.

Aid has now arrived from our regional hub in Panama. The cargo flight landed on 19 August with 37 tons of aid including shelter kits, tarps, jerrycans, kitchen sets, blankets, PPE and mosquito nets. 

The plane then headed back to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to reload with more humanitarian aid. IFRC also sent 15 tons on 18 August by boat (via the French Navy). The ship arrived 21 August to Port au Prince and the aid was sent on to Les Cayes and Jeremie.

What are the main challenges in Haiti?

Heavy rains and floods caused by Tropical Storm Grace struck the same areas hit by the earthquake. This has brought additional landslides and floods and further hampered rescue efforts.

Red Cross logistics experts are working hard to get aid into the affected area, and extra logistics support has arrived.

Where the roads are blocked by landslides, or too damaged or unsafe to cope with heavy truckloads, alternatives such as air and sea are being used. But it is still hard to get out to more rural areas.

Additional trucks are being serviced and supplied from Santo Domingo, to alleviate pressure on truck stock in Haiti.

How does the 2021 Haiti earthquake compare to the Haiti earthquake in 2010?

Sadly, at 7.2 magnitude, the Haiti earthquake in August 2021 is more powerful than the earthquake which struck Port-au-Prince in 2010 at 7.0 magnitude.

Red Cross workers from across the world travelled to Haiti to help. The emergency response became the largest single-country operation in the history of the Red Cross.

Thankfully, the 2021 Haiti earthquake has hit a more remote area than Port au Prince. However, assessments and search and rescue is ongoing, and the death toll likely to increase.

A Haitian Red Cross worker shows a little girl how to wash her hands using a temporary wash station.

A Haitian Red Cross worker helps a little girl wash her hands as part of the Red Cross WASH project.

Haiti earthquake 2010: Red Cross emergency response in numbers


  • 226,030 households given essentials such as blankets, cooking equipment and mosquito nets
  • 229,977 people treated in Red Cross emergency health-care facilities
  • 195,160 households given food supplies
  • 1.2 billion litres of drinking water distributed
  • 149,204 cubic metres of rubble removed
  • 81,716 households given financial support
Red cross workers and local people respond to a devastating second earthquake in Haiti.

Why are the earthquakes in Haiti so powerful?

According to the National Geographic, Haiti sits near the intersection of two tectonic plates that make up the Earth's crust. When these plates move together and create friction, an earthquake can happen.

As Haiti is the poorest nation in Latin America, its buildings are not strong enough to withstand earthquakes. In this case, the country was still recovering from the enormous earthquake in 2010 and was especially vulnerable.

Haiti is also a highly populated island so when disasters occur, the devastation is extreme.

Illustration showing fault lines explaining the severity of Haiti earthquake 2021.