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Haiti: ICRC continues to help flood victims

13-10-2008 News Release 08/186

Port-au-Prince (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to support the efforts of the Haitian National Red Cross Society to help victims of the tropical storms Gustav, Hanna and Ike, the damaging effects of which are still visible in many cities in the country a little over a month after the storms struck.

On 2 and 3 October, Haitian Red Cross volunteers and ICRC staff delivered aid to 1,700 affected families in 12 neighbourhoods of Cité Soleil. The families received kitchen utensils, sleeping mats, tarpaulins, jerrycans and soap. In addition to providing these items, the ICRC made its logistics network available to National Society personnel bringing aid to the victims.

" Since the storms hit, I see people returning to the site or the ruins of their homes every day, desperately waiting for any help to arrive. The modest houses made of sheet metal, plastic or wood were not worth much, but they were all these people had, " said a volunteer from a Red Cross chapter in Cité Soleil, which also still bears the scars of the violence it has suffered. " The aid arriving from the Red Cross is only a drop in the ocean of the pressing needs of the population, which the disaster has made even more destitute. "

The supplies delivered by the Haitian Red Cross and the ICRC nevertheless represent the only help received since the storms struck by inhabitants who lost everything. " This is the first time that I have been given anything by an organization working in Cité Soleil, " said Kristela Thomas, an 18-year-old woman living with her parents and five other members of her family.

" There are eight of us in our family, and these supplies will be very useful to us, " said another woman, Osiana Siméon, who is 50 years old. A 70-year-old man, who pointed out that he was already living in Cité Soleil before the Duvalier family left, said that " since 2004, I've had a good opinion of the Red Cross's work in Cité Soleil. This aid distribu tion strengthens my belief in the humanitarian work that the Red Cross is carrying out here. "

After completing a joint assessment with the national water authority (SNEP), the ICRC provided partial funding for upgrades in the water supply network in Cabaret, one of the communities worst affected by the storms, with severely damaged infrastructure.

In accordance with its mandate of providing assistance for people in custody, the ICRC also assessed and repaired damage in places of detention. Major work was undertaken to clean the police station courtyard in Gonaïves, which had been filled with mud and all sorts of waste swept into it by the floodwaters. In Port-au-Prince, the ICRC carried out repair work on the roof of the civilian prison, where it distributed hygiene items and medical supplies to the inmates.

The ICRC continues to trace and reunite families all over the country. These efforts enabled Nona Alliotte, a pregnant woman living in Cabaret, to rejoin her family. Her partner, Jean-Louis Sauveur, declared that " my joy at finally seeing Nona again, safe and sound, is even greater than my sadness at having lost one of our daughters during the flooding. " He was evidently relieved, but nevertheless concerned about what might happen to his family and hundreds of others that had lost everything and were being housed in temporary shelters.

At the State University of Haiti Hospital in Port-au-Prince, the ICRC is handling the medical follow-up of an adolescent girl and a three-month-old baby evacuated from Gonaïves. After having reunited the girl and her father, ICRC staff are now focusing on tracing relatives of the baby. In Jacmel, in the southern part of the country, four children are also being looked after by the ICRC and the Haitian Red Cross, which are trying to locate their families.

  For further information, please contact:
  Rob Drouen, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel: +509 34 56 34 00
  Jean Jacob Charles, ICRC Port-au-Prince, tel: +509 34 58 41 86