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Haiti earthquake: health posts cater for people in one of the capital's poorest areas

25-01-2010 Operational Update

Amid death and destruction wrought by the earthquake that struck on 12 January, life is slowly returning to the streets and camps of Port-au-Prince. The ICRC and the Haitian Red Cross have set up two first-aid posts in Bel-Air, one of the city's poorest neighbourhoods.

  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00543    
  Haitian Red Cross volunteers give first aid to a child at a first-aid post set up by the ICRC in Port-au-Prince.    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00514    
  The ICRC distributes water to people camped in the La Primature area of Port-au-Prince.    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00503    
  Port-au-Prince. A patient receives treatment at the Norwegian field hospital.    
  ©ICRC/M. Kokic/ht-e-00502    
  A boy affected by the earthquake uses an ICRC satellite phones to reassure his relatives.    
  Life in Port-au-Prince

Despite the destruction and the pain, life is returning to the streets and camps of Port-au-Prince. Neighbourhood committees have started to organize throughout the city. Bulldozers are removing debris and tearing down damaged buildings. More food is available in street markets, albeit at two or three times the prices charged prior to the disaster. Money transfer offices and banks reopened again on Saturday, putting an end to a period of 12 days during which no one had access to cash.

" Hospitals are still overcrowded and often short of supplies, but the long lines one saw in front of their gates only a few days ago have disappeared, " reported Simon Schorno, an ICRC spokesman in Haiti. Tanker trucks supply clean water several times a day in most camps, where hundreds of thousands of people are living in makeshift tents.

" Everyone here is uncertain about the future. But early Sunday morning I saw families dressed in their Sunday best – little girls in white dresses and shiny black shoes, their fathers holding their hands, wearing neat jackets and ties – walking towards what is left of a church. A few moments later, they were listening to their preacher and singing hymns amid the ruins, " added Mr Schorno.


Health posts in Bel-Air  The ICRC is working cl osely with the Haitian National Red Cross Society. 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 .

Last Saturday, the ICRC and the Haitian Red Cross opened two first-aid posts in the Bel-Air neighbourhood of the capital. Over 20,000 people displaced by the earthquake live in sprawling makeshift camps in the neighbourhood, one of the poorest in Port-au-Prince, where people have so far had little access to medical care. More than 100 individuals have received medical treatment at each of the two posts over the past two days. One of the posts is located next to a destroyed hospice for some 75 elderly people, who are now living in the open alongside homeless families.

  See also: Community networking enables ICRC to open first-aid posts in underserved area  
New cargo plane on its way  

The ICRC has provided urgently needed medical supplies for the Rosalie Rendu health-care centre in Cité-Soleil. Dressing materials and basic health-care kits have also been donated to volunteer doctor teams working at the Collège Classique Don Bosco and in the Tabarre neighbourhood.

The ICRC continues to provide clean water for over 12,000 people living in three camps, where it also sponsors trash collection. Water and sanitation engineers from the organization rece ntly visited the women's prison in Pétionville to assess needs. While the prison authorities have been able to obtain an adequate supply of water on their own, they did ask the ICRC to provide hygiene items.

The ICRC has just conducted the first-ever training course on proper management and documentation of the dead for Port-au-Prince mortuary personnel. The search for and recovery of remains of earthquake victims is expected to continue for the next few weeks as rubble is removed. The training provided by the ICRC for officials and for Haitian Red Cross volunteers aims to ensure that information is collected for identification purposes using ICRC forms and that remains receive a dignified burial.

An ICRC cargo aircraft loaded with 104 metric tonnes of blankets, plastic sheeting, kitchen sets, jerrycans and laundry soap is expected to leave Panama late today and to arrive in the Dominican Republic tomorrow. The cargo will be taken by road to Port-au-Prince over the following days.

Restoring family links  

ICRC and Haitian Red Cross mobile tracing teams have continued to work in some of the largest camps in Port-au-Prince. Staff working in Desprez, Stade Sylvio Cator, Champs-de-Mars, Pétionville and Dalmas arranged for over 1,600 calls to be made between relatives. The ICRC continues to inform the population about the availability of its tracing service through radio spots and street broadcasts.

The tracing specialists also registered two unaccompanied minors. The first one, a 12-year-old boy whose parents died years ago, had been living with his aunt and uncle but lost them both during the earthquake. He is being looked after temporarily by a host family until a permanent place of care can be found. The second child spent one night at the ICRC office and was then taken to the Un icef office for interim care arrangements, pending reunification with his aunt residing abroad.

The family links site ( www.icrc.org/familylinks ) for Haiti currently lists over 25,200 names. Nearly 2,800 of the postings are from people reporting that they are alive and safe. The ICRC has so far been able to remove 731 names because the people concerned had been traced.


For further information, please contact:  
Simon Schorno, ICRC Port-au-Prince, mobile: +509 3456 3392 or +41 79 251 9302,  
satellite tel: +88 165 146 6175
  Marçal Izard, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2458 or +41 79 217 32 24  

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