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Haiti: ICRC starts work in shantytown

19-01-2005 News Release No. 05/8

The inhabitants of the Cité-Soleil shantytown in Port-au-Prince suffer extreme economic and social deprivation, as well as being exposed to sporadic outbursts of armed violence.

The ICRC has therefore embarked on a large-scale water and sanitation project there and is also helping the local committee of the Haitian National Red Cross Society to evacuate people wounded in the clashes.

Rehabilitation work has just begun on the communal latrines in the Bellecourt and Soleil 19 districts, as has work to decontaminate the immediate surroundings of these sites. A major wastewater channel in the Boston district is being rehabilitated as well. All the work is being carried out by the local inhabitants with the support of the ICRC. This joint effort could only go ahead after ICRC delegates had paid several visits to the shantytown, where members of the Red Cross committee arranged for them to meet with the inhabitants and the leaders of the main gangs in control of the Boston and Bellecourt districts. During the meetings, the ICRC presented its water and sanitation project to make sure that its aims and working methods were clearly understood, and both the gangs and the inhabitants gave their explicit backing to its plans.

As regards the shantytown’s water supply, the ICRC and CAMEP (the local water board) are initially seeking to stabilize production from the only borehole that is still in operation. Later, the two other boreholes will be repaired and equipped with pumps and generators. For the time being, a private company is conducting pumping tests for the ICRC.

The ICRC has also helped the local Red Cross committee to rent a tap-tap (traditional taxi), so that it can evacuate the wounded to wards medical facilities where they can be operated on. Many people were injured by bullets in Cité-Soleil during the latest clashes between the gangs and in the joint operations conducted by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the Haitian National Police. Since 17 December, the ICRC and the local Red Cross committee have evacuated around 20 wounded and given first aid to others directly on the spot.

Improvements have also been made to the building of the Haitian Red Cross, where a new water pump and electricity have been installed.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Wolde Saugeron, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel.: ++509 257 7143 or +509 525 6268  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel.: +41 22 730 24 58 or +4179 217 32 24