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Haiti bulletin – 8 March 2004

08-03-2004 Operational Update

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field

In a new flare-up of violence, several people were killed and dozens wounded when an armed group opened fire on demonstrators in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on 7 March.

Public services throughout the country have been hard hit by the crisis. The disruption of supply lines for hospitals (fuel, medicines) and food markets have further exacerbated the situation in humanitarian terms.

In the absence of police forces across most of the territory, international contingents are being deployed to ensure law and order in the major cities. Meanwhile, the groups involved in the violence have still not laid down their weapons.

The ICRC, which has made bilateral contacts with the different parties to the violence, called on them once again to respect and protect the civilian population. In particular, it has asked that the wounded and sick be granted safe access to medical care.

 Medical assistance  

The ICRC's main priority at present remains providing medical and surgical material and personnel for the referral hospitals capable of responding to the crisis.

The ICRC surgical team working at Canapé-Vert Hospital in the capital is providing treatment free of charge for the wounded, whose numbers had diminished until the recent spate of violence on 7 March. Those wounded that day were taken to the hospital in Haitian Red Cross ambulances.

On 4 March, the ICRC brought in surgical supplies from the Dominican Republic, making it possible to set up a supplementary operating theatre at Canapé-Vert Hospital. Additional beds have also been installed, bringing the total number to 100.

Two days later, an ICRC convoy traveling from the Dominican Republic across the Dajabon-Ouanaminthe border arrived in Gonaives with a generator for the city's public hospital. It was also carrying fuel for National Society ambulances and ICRC vehicles. Preparations are currently being made for the installation of a complete surgical unit at the hospital in Gonaives, where an ICRC nurse is working.

The ICRC is now in the process of evaluating the impact of the most recent violence on access to medical treatment. Since 23 February ICRC doctors and nurses have been assessing the situation in hospitals and medical facilities in Port-au-Prince, the Gonaives region and the northern departments of Cap Haitien and Nord-Est. Similar evaluations are soon to be carried out in the southern regions.

    

 Detention  

Since the release of virtually all persons held in Haitian prisons and police stations, the ICRC has reminded all the parties concerned of their obligations toward anyone they may detain and the ICRC's mandate to visit these people. In particular, it has asked to be informed of all arrests.

 Cooperation with other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement  

On 4 March, an aircraft chartered by the French Red Cross landed in Port-au-Prince. On board were seven ambulances and 30 emergency medical kits donated by the French National Society and five emergency medical kits donated by the Netherlands Red Cross. Each kit, to be distributed to medical centres and first-aid posts by the Haitian Red Cross, contains enough supplies to treat 10,000 people for a period of three months.

The Spanish Red Cross has also provided telecommunications material for the Haitian National Society.

 ICRC presence  

The ICRC delegation in Haiti currently comprises 18 expatriates and 15 national employees.

On 4 March, the ICRC launched an appeal to donors for 4.6 million Swiss francs to cover its emergency operations in Haiti over the coming four months (see press release of 4 March and audio interview with Yves Giovannoni, ICRC head of operations for Latin America and the Caribbean, on http://www.icrc.org ).

 For further information, please contact :  

 Simon Pluess, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel. : ++ 509 256 78 24 or ++ 509 257 71 43 or ++ 509 525 62 68  

 Adolfo Beteta, ICRC Mexico City, tel. : ++ 5255 52 55 43 55  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. : ++ 41 22 730 24 58 or ++ 41 79 217 32 24