Haiti bulletin – 17 March 2004
17-03-2004 Operational Update
Latest news on ICRC activities in the field
Both the capital and outlying areas are still suffering from the near-total paralysis of the administrative and local authorities and of public services. The virtual breakdown of the electricity supply caused by the fuel scarcity is heightening the feeling of insecurity in Haitian towns.
While entities exercising de facto control are maintaining an uneasy peace in some northern towns, the situation in the south, where no forces have been able to enforce security, remains a matter of concern.
Several major humanitarian agencies well established in Haiti are assessing conditions outside the capital (in Cap-Haïtien, for example), with a view to resuming the work they were forced to suspend owing to the lack of security.
The ICRC holds daily meetings with the authorities of all the towns where it is present, in an endeavour to find ways of improving the lot of people affected by the armed violence, such as the civilian population and detainees. In their dialogue with all parties, ICRC delegates urge them to abstain from acts of revenge.
At the beginning of last week, the ICRC surgical team and their Haitian colleagues at the Canapé -Vert hospital in Port-au-Prince had to contend with an influx of patients who had been wounded by shots fired at demonstrators, four of whom were killed. Most of the more than 30 people wounded were brought to the hospital. Meanwhile, installation of an operating theatre, a blood bank and an intensive care unit has been completed and an ICRC anaesthetist has just arrived to bolster the organization’s surgical team at the hospital.
On 12 March, the ICRC distributed first-aid kits to the Carrefour, Saint-Esprit and Le Français hospitals in order to improve their ability to respond to emergencies. Each kit makes it possible to provide emergency care for at least 100 wounded persons.
On 11 March, the ICRC transported the following items to the public referral hospital in Gonaives: an operating theatre, a care unit, a blood bank, a laboratory and 50 hospital beds. An ICRC hospital technician is supervising their installation. In addition, the ICRC has dispatched a vital new electricity generator to the hospital from the Dominican Republic.
As the Health Ministry is unable to supply public referral hospitals and other health-care facilities outside the capital, the ICRC is facilitating, on an ad hoc basis, the shipment of basic medicines and vaccines to the north of the country. Last week the ICRC followed up its first convoy to Gonaives with another consisting of essential stocks of medicines financed by the WHO for hospitals in Nord department. The organization has also sent propane gas cylinders (needed for refrigerators storing vaccines) to Nord from the Dominican Republic.
After pr oviding initial support to the surgical service at the hospital in Jacmel in mid-February, the ICRC is now expanding its presence in Haiti’s southern departments. Yesterday, a survey mission was sent to this region among other things to assess the impact of the violence on access to medical treatment.
The ICRC is continuing to closely monitor the situation of persons detained in connection with the present crisis. After the release of almost all detainees from prisons and police stations, ICRC delegates are visiting new detainees in provisional detention centres.
Cooperation with other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
On 11 March, a ceremony was held to hand over the keys of seven ambulances donated by the French Red Cross to the Haitian National Red Cross Society, in the presence of the donors (representatives of the French embassy and a representative of the Humanitarian Aid Office of the European Commission). The four ambulances intended for the Red Cross in Port-au-Prince will improve transportation of the sick and injured to the city’s hospitals. The three other vehicles are for the local Red Cross branches in Saint-Marc, Mirebalais and Gonaives. A French Red Cross emergency-care specialist is at present giving refresher courses in first aid to the ambulance teams of the Haitian Red Cross.
The ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the Haitian Red Cross are setting up a VHF telecommunications system in Haiti, and it is now possible to communicate on VHF between Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien. This system will improve coordination between the headquarters of the various Red Cross organizations and their staff in the field, and thus improve security for that staff.
The ICRC delegation in Haiti currently comprises 26 expatriates and 16 national employees.
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
Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. + 41 22 730 24 58 or + 41 79 217 32 24