January 18 - Expanded CWS situation update: Haiti Earthquake

Humanitarian workers are working to get much-needed assistance to survivors of the devastating Haitian earthquake, with the U.S. saying it will send additional troops to the country, while UN peacekeepers try to keep order in the capital of Port-au-Prince.

 Quake survivors need clean drinking water
Quake survivors in Port-au-Prince need clean drinking water.  CWS is supporting partner efforts in providing water, as well as water purification and sanitation equipment.
Photo: Reuters/Jorge Silva courtesy www.alertnet.org

Humanitarian workers are working to get much-needed assistance to survivors of the devastating Haitian earthquake, with the U.S. saying it will send additional troops to the country, while UN peacekeepers try to keep order in the capital of Port-au-Prince.  While still relatively calm, the city has experienced looting and other acts of lawlessness in recent days.

While CWS efforts to get aid to survivors has begun, Prospery Raymond, the country manager for CWS partner and ACT Alliance member Christian Aid, reports he is concerned there may not be enough food in the country to last more than a few days.

The streets are still thronged with homeless people, walking for hours to find food and water, ACT reports.  As well as wide-spread destruction of homes, schools and other buildings, major damage has been done to key water, electricity and road systems.  Port-au-Prince's heavily congested airport is finally allowing some aid to get through.

ACT members report that buildings remain very fragile and continue to collapse. Rain has compounded the situation for the some 1 million people without shelter. The border with the Dominican Republic remains insecure. Health risks of contagious diseases are getting serious. Other towns are also badly affected and many areas outside Port-au-Prince remain unexplored.

Even with enormous problems, there have been numerous acts of what ACT called "social solidarity, with people helping rescue each other from the rubble." Christian Aid's Raymond, for example, was pulled from the wreckage of the Christian Aid office by a passerby.

A large number of Port-au-Prince residents, perhaps 100,000, have left the city to stay with friends and family in other parts of the country.

In a report filed after he arrived in Port-au-Prince early Sunday (January 17), Don Tatlock, CWS Latin America and Caribbean program manager who is coordinating CWS efforts in Haiti, said: "People are starting to move around and you see once in a while street vendors."  But he also said evidence of the rubble and overall destruction remains staggering.

"People are still sleeping outside in make shifts tents on street sides, parks or any open area," he said, with streets closed to traffic.  "In some neighborhoods, you see signs written on sheets asking for water and food."

Overhead, Tatlock said, "looking up at the skies you see and hear the busy activities of cargo planes and helicopters.  There are so many flights coming in and not enough room at the airport to hold them."

Tatlock said a staff member of CWS partner Service Chretien d'Haiti, "could not hold back the tears and asks people to pray and help the people in Haiti.  The stress on her personal life is taking a toll, yet she is trying to stay strong for her children, staying strong so she can help others."

Developments

  • Relief items, including CWS Kits and Blankets that had been pre-positioned for disasters in a Santo Domingo warehouse by long-time CWS partner Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas (known by the acronym SSID), are being distributed in Port-au-Prince.  Also transported from Santo Domingo, vitally needed water and sanitation equipment that is part of CWS-supported efforts by the ACT Alliance.  ACT partners in Haiti "are pooling those initial resources" and are beginning to distribute them as they can today, said Donna Derr, director of emergency response for CWS.  Further details of initial aid delivery will be available in the coming days.  Further shipments to Haiti from the DR are planned.
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  • Tatlock reports that a CWS-supported psychosocial team from Europe is arriving in Port-au-Prince, not only for disaster survivors, but also for first responders.  "The situation is so horrifying that there is concern of post-traumatic stress syndrome for members of search and rescue teams," he said.

Recap to date

  • CWS on Jan. 13 issued an emergency appeal (#6762), expanded it on Friday, Jan. 15.
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  • Because of the ongoing challenges of aid getting into Haiti, CWS has determined that it must focus on making the neighboring Dominican Republic the hub for our response, at least for now.
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  • As noted, CWS is working closely with SSID, which will receive and purchase material aid in the capital of Santo Domingo and transport the aid into Haiti from the neighboring DR.
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  • CWS plans to send a 40-foot container with CWS Baby Care and Hygiene Kits to the Dominican Republic; the specifics of that shipment will be available later this week.
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  • Part of the CWS response is likely to be in assisting Haitians who may try to enter the DR and the establishment of a storage and distribution center in the Dominican city of Jimani.
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  • Another response will be for SSID and CWS to mobilize non-governmental organizations in the DR that focus on children's programs to support equivalent NGOs in Haiti.
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  • In Haiti, CWS will assist in the full restoration of operational and programmatic capacity of Ecumenical Foundation for Peace and Justice, a CWS partner. The EFPJ children's program in Port-au-Prince will deliver a range of services to children in Carrefour and La Saline.
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  • CWS will help reorganize and expand the network of volunteers trained by Cuban missionaries, from the Cuban Council of Churches, to work with people with disabilities in neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.
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  • CWS will assist in restoring the operating capacity of CWS partners Service Chretien d'Haiti and SKDE so they can provide direct services to survivors in of Port-au-Prince.
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  • As part of efforts in which CWS, a member of the ACT Alliance, supports the larger ACT effort in Haiti, CWS is exploring partnership program efforts with Christian Aid in ways that take advantage of our respective interests and capacities.
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  • Church World Service is providing funds to local partners in Haiti.
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  • 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.
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  • CWS has praised the decision by the US government granting Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Haitians living in the US.
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CWS-supported ACT response efforts

ACT members report the following efforts, being supported by CWS:

  • Christian Aid is distributing food and tents, hygiene kits, blankets, jerry cans and water purifiers to 15,000 people in eight communities, targeting areas getting little help from other agencies.
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  • Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe plans to deliver 15 tons of food relief together with Caritas Germany.
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  • Lutheran World Relief plans to send a shipment of food products.
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  • Norwegian Church Aid has sent water sanitation equipment and is providing psychosocial assistance.
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  • Elsa Moreno, the incoming ACT coordinator for Haiti, said that the ACT response will focus on delivering as much assistance as possible to the population in Port-au-Prince, but also around the city and to other areas devastated by the earthquake.  Some of the towns include those closest to the epicenter of the quake, Leogane and Petit Goave, which were devastated.  Moreno said ACT Alliance members have found many people have fled Port-au-Price and returned to their places of origin, putting a lot of pressure on local communities to host them.
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How to help

You can contribute online, or by phoning 800-297-1516, or by mailing your contribution to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515 (please indicate Haiti Earthquake).  Or your can contribute to Church World Service through your local congregation. Thank you!

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.

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


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