Situation Update: Haiti Earthquake

The global humanitarian effort, which includes the work of Church World Service, in response to Haiti's devastating earthquake faces enormous challenges, given difficult logistics, collapsed infrastructure and rising tensions.

 Collapsed hospital
A hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince collapsed during the earthquake
Photo: courtesy Eric Celiz/CWS

The global humanitarian effort, which includes the work of Church World Service, in response to Haiti’s devastating earthquake faces enormous challenges, given difficult logistics, collapsed infrastructure and rising tensions.

Looting has been reported in parts of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, and the problems with infrastructure are slowing the delivery of assistance, authorities said.  Power remains out; food supplies are dwindling; and telecommunications are, as The New York Times reported, “rarely functioning.  Most medical facilities had been severely damaged, if not leveled.”

Initial estimates of those who died, which were originally estimated at 100,000 or higher, have been reduced by the Haitian Red Cross to about 45,000 to 50,000, though those estimates remain extremely tentative, the Times reported.

CWS Response

Church World Service is sending funds to local partners in Haiti as it continues to assess the situation; partner SSID in Dominican Republic is sending pre-positioned CWS Kits and Blankets from its warehouse in the capital of Santo Domingo to Haiti.

CWS-supported efforts will include the construction of temporary water systems, providing water purification materials, tents and food packages.  Additional efforts will be announced once assessments are completed.

Photo of Martin Coria, CWS Latin America/Caribbean Regional Coordinator
Hear CWS’ Martin Coria, Latin America / Caribbean Regional Coordinator, describe how CWS’ local partners fared in Haiti & the Dominican Republic, and the strategy to help rebuild.
Download audio (mp3, 1:54)

Photo courtesy Tallu Schuyler

Don Tatlock, CWS Latin America and Caribbean program manager, is coordinating CWS efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic; Tatlock is in the DR now and expects to travel to Haiti shortly.

There is no further information on the House of Hope, a day school CWS supports in Port-au-Prince.  Preliminary information indicates the school building was damaged.

Church World Service is pressing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Members of Congress to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians, allowing them to remain in the United States for at least 18 months as part of a comprehensive response to the current humanitarian crisis.  Through the CWS Speak Out and a Refugee Council USA members letter, CWS notes that Haiti’s current circumstances fall well within the criteria for granting TPS, since it may be granted when requested by a foreign state that temporarily cannot handle the return of nationals (e.g. by deportation) due to an environmental disaster.  TPS has been granted in similar situations to nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001.

How to help

Contributions to support the CWS emergency appeal may be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515.  Please designate: Haiti Earthquake, Appeal Number #6762.  You can also click here to donate online now.

For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding, please visit www.churchworldservice.org or call the CWS Hotline, (800) 297-1516.

CWS Emergency Response Program special contacts: (212) 870-3151
Program Director: dderr@churchworldservice.org

Media Contact:
Lesley Crosson, 212-870-2676, lcrosson@churchworldservice.org
Jan Dragin, 781-925-1526, jdragin@gis.net


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