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Haiti earthquake: situation remains precarious for hundreds of thousands

28-01-2010 Operational Update

Despite the large-scale humanitarian effort now under way, the situation remains precarious for hundreds of thousands of people. The ICRC is supporting the broader Red Cross and Red Crescent response in Haiti, notably in areas where few humanitarian organizations are working because of security concerns.

  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00566    
When the home for the elderly where she was residing was destroyed, this woman was left homeless until a local NGO provided her with shelter.    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00576    
Port-au-Prince. An ICRC team installing a water reservoir in the Petionville women’s prison.    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00578    
Haitian Red Cross first-aid post, Port-au-Prince. Steve, six, who lost his parents during the earthquake is now in his grandmother’s care.    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00582    
Port-au-Prince. An ICRC employee collects information from a women in search of her two-month-old baby.    
  Meeting the needs of the poorest

" People in the city's poorest neighbourhoods still have pressing needs, particularly in terms of shelter, food, health care and sanitation, " said Riccardo Conti, head of the ICRC delegation in Haiti. " We know the areas well. By working closely with local organizations and the Haitian National Red Cross Society, we are making life a little less difficult for tens of thousands of earthquake victims in these underserved areas. "

In recent days, ICRC and the Haitian Red Cross personnel have opened several first-aid posts and provided clean water for thousands. They have also helped people separated from other family members, including children, to regain contact with one another. " Now we are also looking ahead and developing assistance projects that will have a longer-term impact, " added Mr Conti. One such project involves cooperating with the Port-au-Prince water board to repair the water distribution network and provide sustained access to clean water for over 200,000 residents in Cité-Soleil, one of the poorest neighbourhoods.

The international Red Cross and Red Crescent relief effort is being coordinated and led by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. For more details on the overall Red Cross Red Crescent response to the earthquake, please visit the Federation website at www.ifrc.org .  
  A new first-aid post and increased availability of water

Together with the Haitian Red Cross, the ICRC opened a new first-aid post in the Canapé-Vert neighbourhood, where around 3,000 people who lost their homes are now living in makeshift camps. The ICRC also provided existing Haitian Red Cross first-aid posts in Port-au-Prince with additional medical supplies.

In Cité-Soleil, ICRC water and sanitation engineers installed four water distribution points, boosting the total number of people in the capital receiving drinking water every day to 25,000. They also started to replace a broken generator at a pumping station in Duvivier, an area within Cité-Soleil. In the Champs-de-Mars neighbourhood, where around 20,000 people are gathered in camps, the engineers assessed the state of the five water sources in the area and found that three of them are still operational, a circumstance which will considerably reduce the need for water to be brought in by truck.

At the women's prison in Pétionville, all 300 inmates and the 30 members of staff were given hygiene kits. The ICRC also gave 250 people sheltering on the premises of Radio Lumière plastic sheeting, soap and buckets.

An ICRC cargo aircraft loaded with 104 metric tonnes of blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, jerrycans and laundry soap arrived in the Dominican Republic yesterday. The cargo will be taken by road to Port-au-Prince over the coming days.

Restoring family links

ICRC and Haitian Red Cross mobile tracing teams are carrying on with their work in some of the largest camps in Port-au-Prince. They have started to register information about people confirmed as alive on the basis of lists provided by hospitals, Haitian Red Cross first-aid posts and oth er institutions. So far, they have helped to place nearly 2,200 phone calls for people without news of their relatives. Over the past few days, tracing personnel in Port-au-Prince collected 1,477 " safe and well " messages and received 27 new tracing requests.

The family links site ( www.icrc.org/familylinks ) for Haiti currently lists over 25,600 names. Over 3,000 of the postings are from people reporting that they are alive and safe. The ICRC has so far been able to remove 884 names because the people concerned had been traced.  

  For further information, please contact:
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Port-au-Prince, mobile: +509 3456 3392 and +41 79 251 9302,
  satellite: +88 165 146 6175
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 58 or +41 79 217 32 24  

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