Haiti bulletin – 2 March 2004
02-03-2004 Operational Update No 04/03
Latest report on ICRC activities in the field
In the capital
The situation in Port-au-Prince descended into chaos this past weekend. As a result, the ICRC’s capacity to work was severely limited. On 27 February, the organization had to pull its medical team out of Canapé-Vert Hospital in the capital after a group of armed civilians broke into the facility and threatened ICRC and Haitian medical personnel. The few doctors who remained had to cope with a massive influx of wounded during the night of 28 February.
By 1 March, relative calm had returned to the hospital district, following an intervention by the Haitian security forces on 28 February. The ICRC plans to send back its medical team as soon as possible, to support Haitian staff in treating the wounded.
Meanwhile, in the former military hospital, a team of Cuban doctors has set up a surgical field hospital. In the night of 28 February, they successfully operated on 17 people with bullet wounds. On 29 February the ICRC provided them with enough first-aid kits to treat 100 patients, and the next day it supplied them with a surgical kit (1.3 tonnes) containing enough material to operate on 100 wounded. Also on 1 March, the ICRC was finally able to retrieve the first-aid kits (enough to treat around 1,000 wounded) that were waiting at Port-au-Prince international airport, ready for distribution to the country’s main hospitals.
An ICRC-chartered cargo plane left Geneva on the night of 27 February with surgical and other medical material for hospitals in Port-au-Prince and Gonaives. Security conditions in the Haitian capital meant that the plane had to unload in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. The 32 tonnes of material, which include two hospital modules and medical kits, will be transferred to Haiti as soon as possible.
In the north
In Cap-Haitien, an ICRC team is busy making arrangements for the transfer of one of the two hospital modules from the Dominican Republic to the public referral hospital in Gonaives.
Meanwhile in Gonaives another ICRC team, supported by Cuban medical personnel, is preparing the ground for setting up the module at the hospital.
The ICRC remains concerned by the lack of respect for medical facilities and staff and for the red cross emblem. It continues to alert the relevant authorities and the general public to this problem via messages broadcast on the main radio stations.
Cooperation with other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
Despite the extremely tense situation in Port-au-Prince on 28 and 29 February, the Haitian Red Cross teams showed exceptional dedication, for instance evacuating at least 20 wounded persons to Canapé-Vert Hospital, some in the middle of the night. Given the current fuel shortages, the ICRC supplied pe trol for the National Society’s ambulances.
As the Haitian Red Cross branch in Pétion-Ville (Port-au-Prince) was looted during the night of 28 February, the ICRC urgently provided red cross tabards and medical kits in addition to information brochures explaining the mandate of the different components of the Movement, for public distribution.
The two hospital modules for Port-au-Prince and Gonaives were provided by the Norwegian Red Cross, which has considerable expertise in this field.
On 1 March the Dominican Red Cross, in coordination with the ICRC, sent a plane carrying around 50 blood units to Haiti for the National Society blood bank. These will be used to supply the various hospital facilities in Port-au-Prince.
The ICRC delegation in Haiti currently comprises 15 expatriates and 14 national employees. In the Dominican Republic the ICRC, with the support of the Dominican Red Cross, has set up a temporary logistics base from which ICRC personnel and goods can be sent to Haiti.
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