At least 700,000 Haitians are surviving without adequate shelter – many of them huddling together on whatever spare ground they can find in the already-overcrowded capital and in the coastal city of Leogane, which was almost completely destroyed in the quake.
To date, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement response has included the provision of emergency shelter materials to nearly 19,000 families (95,000 people) consisting of tarpaulins, tools and tents.
But improvised settlements equipped with shelter support such as this will offer scant protection from even an average rainy season, let alone a hurricane.
“The overriding problem is space,” says Nelson Castaño, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) relief operation in Port-au-Prince. “The city was already seriously overcrowded.
“Now what you have are huge areas of Port-au-Prince rendered uninhabitable, while large numbers of residents have moved into small open spaces.
“Given more land, we could certainly do more. But it’s unlikely to be enough to completely ward off the danger posed by the rainy season.” Gedeon emphasizes the importance of the land issue. “Getting land is crucial,” she says. “If more land becomes available, there are at least 5,000 Red Cross volunteers – half of our national strength – who are ready to try to make it safe by doing things like digging drainage channels and clearing sewers.”
IFRC Secretary General, Bekele Geleta, who visited Haiti together with IFRC president Tadateru Konoé in the immediate aftermath of the quake, says: “In terms of its proportionate impact on one country, the Haitian earthquake may well be the worst natural disaster ever.
“The Red Cross Red Crescent is committed to fully supporting the people of Haiti on the long road to recovery that lies ahead. We will partner with communities so we can rebuild safer homes and more sustainable livelihoods. Together we must transform this tragedy into an opportunity for Haiti to rise again.”
The IFRC today publishes a special report on the Haitian earthquake, Haiti: From Tragedy to Opportunity, now available at its web site. The combined Red Cross Red Crescent response – involving the Haitian National Red Cross Society, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from all over the world, the ICRC and the IFRC – is the largest in the 150-year history of the Movement in a single country.
As aid agencies around the world scrambled emergency response teams last month and logisticians looked for fast routes to the Caribbean, Haitian National Red Cross Society volunteers were the first to respond to the disaster on the ground in Haiti and remain central to the ongoing humanitarian effort.
Please make a donation now and lets keep up the momentum for Haiti; The Red Cross Red Crescent emergency appeal seeks 218.4 million Swiss francs (203.5 million USD/149 million euro) to assist 300,000 people for three years.
A spokesperson from Basic Resources Strategies says, "Lets continue to send funds to help them to reach this target and beyond lets all dig a little deeper and help as much as we can."
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