Thursday, 14 January 2010

Thousands Dead In Haiti, Emergency Response

Haiti has been struck by the most powerful earthquake in 200 years, killing thousands of people and leaving many more homeless. The devastating earthquake struck the country on 12 January, approximtaely 15 km south of its densely populated capital, Port-au-Prince, bringing down the presidential palace as well as a five-story UN building and thousands of homes and public buildings.

The president of Haiti, René Préval, told international media that the mayhem and destruction caused in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.0 tremor was "un imaginable". Haiti has been brought to its knees and the country is calling for international help and support.

RedR is supporting aid agencies, who are deploying emergency teams in response and assessing the scale and impact of this disaster, on the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

RedR is an international charity that provides training and recruitment services for the humanitarian sector, improving emergency response worldwide. For the past 30 years, we have been helping rebuild the lives of those affected by disaster.

A major international humanitarian response is needed to support the country’s limited response force. Oxfam, Save the Children, MSF and the British Red Cross among others, have already launched emergency appeals. RedR has a number of experienced, qualified aid workers on stand-by from its active Membership of over 1700 Members, ready to fly out to contribute to relief efforts. In addition RedR Members are involved in coordinating emergency relief efforts and the charity has received requests for specialist advice into its free, on-line Technical Support Service.

RedR is conducting an initial needs assessment to identify the training requirements of aid agencies who are responding to the crisis. This needs assessment will involve not only the international community but many local and national NGOs who it is anticipated will play a major role in the response. So far information sources suggest that water and sanitation, shelter and security will be major issues. These are all key areas of RedR expertise.

As communications are disrupted, it is not yet known exactly how bad the situation is, but initial opinions suggest it could be a disaster of catastrophic proportions. Emergency shelter expert and RedR Member Joseph Ashmore, who was in Haiti just over a year ago responding to urban shelter needs following severe flooding in Gonaives, comments;

“When I was in Haiti, I was concerned about the risk of earthquake. Houses in Port-au-Prince are built high up onto the hill slide and the town is developed with limited planning and using poor construction techniques. I thought that if an earthquake were to strike, then it would be a huge disaster.”

The earthquake is just one in a long list of disasters to hit Haiti in recent years. In 2008, four deadly storms battered Haiti causing widespread flooding and fatal mudslides. Recovery from such natural disasters is also complicated by civil unrest.

Joseph fears recovery may be difficult; "There will be serious issues in the longer term requiring longer term support from organisations like RedR - long after the earthquake has faded from the news. It will be a complex urban reconstruction with multistory houses and a history of chronic poverty and unrest."

Please donate now to our Emergency Response Fund. Donations will be used to help RedR respond to the needs of the relief workers on the ground right now and in the future.

If you would like to make a donation to RedR please visit our Donate page or call 020 7840 6000.


britishredcross said...

As mentioned above, Red Cross volunteers are amongst the agencies assisting the injured survivors of the Haiti earthquake and supporting hospitals struggling to cope with this emergency. Click here to watch Pete Garratt, Relief Operations Manager at the British Red Cross explain how the Red Cross operates in this region, to find out more about the disaster and to support the Red Cross’ contribution to the DEC (Disasters and Emergency Committee) appeal

britishredcross said...

To click directly through to the British Red Cross video click here British Red Cross Haiti video