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HAITI EARTHQUAKE: THE HARDEST WORK LIES AHEAD

(Photo on home page: REUTERS/Marco Dormino/UN/MINUSTAH/ Handout, courtesy of www.alertnet.org)




“I'm here in one of Port-au-Prince’s slum communities, helping Concern do a distribution: an orderly line of women wait with vouchers in their hands to collect blankets, jerry cans, plastic sheeting and water purification tablets. The operation has taken me and the Concern team a full week to plan: talking with community leaders, going house-to-house conducting registrations, cutting the rolls of plastic sheeting, loading trucks, arranging the UN security team to be here with us at 6:30 am. Each person will get 2 jerry cans, 2 blankets, 2 tarps measuring 4mx6m, and small boxes of aqua tabs. We started at 2 minutes past 7am—and we are processing 400 women an hour. In total ,1400 families—over 8,000 people—will be sleeping more comfortably tonight thanks to our teams and the support of our donors worldwide.”
Concern Worldwide US Operations Director Dominic MacSorley
Follow Dominic MacSorley from Haiti on Twitter at http://twitter.com/aidwkr
Watch Dominic MacSorley interviewed from Haiti on PBS World Focus

(Updated February 10, 2010)
The most powerful earthquake in 200 years hit Haiti on January 12, with the epicenter just 10 miles  from the capital, killing an estimated 200,000 people and affecting over 3.5 million, according to the United Nations. Concern launched immediate emergency appeal in response. 

Concern’s US Operations Director Dominic MacSorley and our Rapid Deployment Unit (including our Head of Emergencies, a water/sanitation engineer, three logisticians, and an emergency IT specialist) are on the ground providing additional expertise and support to the 100-member Concern Haiti team based in Port-au-Prince. Food, water, shelter, and medicine are the most urgent short-term needs for survivors. The risk of increasing levels of severe malnutrition among children under the age of five is a very serious concern in the aftermath of the quake, when lifelines to even the most basic health services have been disrupted, especially for the extreme poor, among whom access to maternal and child health care was already a problem. 

Most of the structures in Port-au-Prince’s vast and overcrowded slum communities were built with raw concrete walls and metal roofs, and the majority have been utterly razed, causing widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of traumatized residents in these slum areas and in other parts of Port-au-Prince are now homeless and seeking refuge in makeshift camps and settlements.

On January 26, the Haitian government announced that rescue operations would cease, 12 days after the earthquake. The government and the international community are now focusing on identifying any gaps in aid and providing humanitarian relief and assistance to those worst affected and unable to meet their basic survival needs. Per an announcement on February 3 from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, former United States President Bill Clinton (already the UN Special Envoy to Haiti) has been asked to take on a new leadership role for the United Nations in coordinating international aid efforts, from emergency response to reconstruction in Haiti.

THE FIRST 48 HOURS: OUR RESPONSE 
In the first 48 hours after the disaster, Concern staff:

  • Carried out rapid assessments of the worst affected areas, including the status of 10 health centers where Concern was working
  • Delivered critical medical supplies, ready-made therapeutic food and water to the State University Hospital for use by medical teams there
  • Distributed water, first aid supplies, pick axes (to clear rubble), surgical gloves, disinfectant and water purification tablets to community leaders in the slum areas of Saint Martin and Martissant, where 350,000 earthquake survivors have been left without food, water and electricity
  • Concern US Operations Director Dominic MacSorley, and two other staff members from Concern US, along with Concern's 8-member Rapid Deployment Unit, flew to Haiti to assist the Haiti-based Concern team on the ground with the emergency response.
  • Immediately following the disaster, Concern chartered three flights to bring in lifesaving relief supplies such as ready-to-use emergency therapeutic food, water purification tablets, jerry cans and bladder tanks for water storage (10,000 liters), blankets, tents and plastic sheeting

THE NEXT 6 MONTHS: CONCERN IN ACTION
Concern is distributing relief items in the poorest areas using our network of existing local partner organizations, our youth volunteers and our peace committees. These groups have already been very proactive in cleaning up and helping in the immediate aftermath of this disaster.

While the needs on the ground are constantly changing, the main elements of Concern’s six-month response and recovery program will be:

  • Water distribution for 50,000 people 
  • Food distribution for 150,000 people
  • Providing urgently needed tents and other shelter materials to displaced families
  • Relief supplies sent via 3 charter cargo planes (2 have arrived, on en route) with supplies of blankets, water purification tablets and water storage containers, shelter materials, emergency therapeutic food for children under five (high-protein biscuits called BP-5, therapeutic milk formula called F100, and plumpy'nut)
  • Emergency health: nutrition support and counselling to mothers, pregnant women, and children under the age of five
  • Building temporary latrines, bathing cubicles, and handwashing stations
  • Education programs for children in temporary camps and makeshift settlements
  • Cash-for-work programs to provide urgently needed income to women
  • Continuing to assess and monitor the impact of the crisis and respond as needed in the coming months

Concern in Haiti
Concern has working in Haiti since it launched a disaster relief program in 1994 in response to Hurricane Gordon. Our current programs focus on helping the poorest communities lift themselves out of poverty with long-term development programs in the areas of health, education, HIV and AIDS, peacebuilding, livelihoods, and disaster risk reduction and emergency interventions. Concern works in three parts of Haiti: the island of La Gonâve, the communities in and near Saut d’Eau in the central plateau, and in the poorest neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.

Concern has worked with the national civil protection authorities in Haiti in response to civil conflict to help establish and train local civil protection committees and in peacebuilding initiatives in violence-torn slum neighborhoods.  We have also provided lifesaving disaster relief and humanitarian aid in response to past earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods. Our focus is on the extreme poor and the most vulnerable.

PLEASE DONATE NOW TO ENSURE THE SURVIVAL AND LONG-TERM RECOVERY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE EARTHQUAKE.