Caritas response at Haiti in full flow as Secretary General flies in
05 February 2010
15,000 tons of food, water and medical supplies are arriving in Port-au-Prince this week for the Caritas emergency response in Haiti.
Caritas aid distribution in Haiti.
Donated by parishes and community groups all over Mexico, the huge consignment, filling seven Mexican marine ships, was given to Caritas for distribution to the people most in need all over Haiti. The first ship to dock, the Papanlapou, carried with it almost 2,000 tons of essentials like rice, beans, UHT milk and medical kits from the Mexican Red Cross.
“It will make a big difference, the food on this ship”, Olaf Pospíšil from Caritas Czech Republic, who organised the collection of the donations. “With it, we can feed hundreds of thousands of people.”
Up to 200,000 people have been reached with food distributions by Caritas since the earthquake of 12 January. The combined public donations from around the world are now over US$ 80 million.
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight arrives in Port-au-Prince at the weekend, accompanying Caritas Haiti President Bishop Pierre Dumas on his return trip from Rome.
“Caritas aid is getting to the most vulnerable people in Haiti,” said Lesley-Anne Knight. “All our supporter have been overwhelmingly generous in responding to this tragedy. We’ve seen incredible efforts on the parts Catholic parishes, schools and individuals. Thanks to them, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have received support.”
Shelter materials have arrived and these are beginning to be given out to those that need them most. Although given the massive overcrowding in Port-au-Prince and the dense nature of the informal camps, tents for families will be given out where there is space, and alternatives, such as plastic sheeting, given where there is none.
Catholic Relief Services, a Caritas member from the USA, is playing a leading role in distributions at Petionville Club along with Caritas Haiti and with the support of Caritas members from around the world.
At Petionville, the largest camp in the city where Caritas is feeding over 50,000 people, Caritas staff are distributing shelter materials to help bring some comfort to those who were forced to flee their homes.
A shock trauma team from the University of Maryland is in place this week and the plan is to rotate the teams in one-week shifts over the next six months.
The current focus is on surgeries and orthopedics, though this will evolve according to the needs of the patients. The team are performing around 16 complex surgical operations. They are working around the clock.
Conor O’Loughlin is in Haiti on Phone: M+ 353 86 2071942 or +353 86 607 4327; Skype: coloughlin; Email: COLoughlin@trocaire.ie