In the aftermath of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12th, 2010, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), of which the Dominica Red Cross (DRC) is a member, was among the first members of the international community on the scene assisting affected communities.
“We have an active National Society in Haiti that has been operating there for decades and we will be there long after everyone else has come and gone,” says Kathleen Pinard-Byrne, Director General of the DRC. Ms. Pinard-Byrne went on to clear the air about the way money collected by the Red Cross/Red Crescent has been spent, “The monies gathered by the International Red Cross so far have been used in several areas.
In the health sector, 28,841 people have been treated at our health care facilities and by mobile teams in Haiti and 45,000 have been vaccinated. 1,000 to 1,300 patients are seen daily by our basic health care units and integrated mobile clinics. In the area of relief/shelter, more than 28,000 households received hygiene kits; we distributed 1,860 tents, 56,352 tarpaulins and 2,914 shelter kits.”
The contribution made by the Red Cross in Haiti has been recognized worldwide to the extent that the IFRC team was appointed as coordinator for shelter under the inter-agency humanitarian cluster system allowing emergency shelter-material to reach more than 650,000 people. Tens of thousands of tarpaulins, tents, ropes, timber uprights and toolkits continue to pour into Haiti helping to put shelter over people’s heads ahead of the rainy season, which peaks in May.
Additionally, Mrs. Pinard-Byrne said, “With respect to water and sanitation, 30 million litres of drinking water was distributed, 102 camps now have water points and 574 toilet facilities have been built. We organized 97 flights into Haiti and shipped 46 – 40ft. containers for a total tonnage of shipments of 4,106 in relief supplies that reached the people of Haiti.”
The response to the Haiti earthquake is the largest single-country disaster response that the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement has mounted in its history, in terms of both money raised and the number of people responding internationally in the first weeks. All stakeholders in Haiti see the power of The Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement to continue to meet the needs of those on the ground who have been affected by this disaster. The Red Cross/Red Crescent is well positioned to play a key role in leading efforts to promote community-based recovery and long-term progress toward achieving safer and healthier communities in Haiti.
According to the IFRC, the most urgent priorities for assistance continue to include shelter, sanitation and hygiene services. There is also a critical need for rubble removal as well as for the identification of suitable land for the construction of transitional shelters.
Through the recovery process the government hopes to support the decentralization of services and population from Port-au-Prince. The Government of Haiti is targeting to present a master plan at a Donor meeting in New York on April 15th and it has highlighted the fact that there is a serious lack of resources.
In light of this, Mrs. Pinard-Byrne said, “This is not the time to cast aspersions on the aid agencies through which the local and international donors see it fit to channel their assistance to Haiti; it is a time for a coming together of the Governments of the Region to pledge funds to the Government of Haiti to meet these challenges, while the Red Cross/Red Crescent concentrates on ensuring a return to normal functioning of the Haitian society.”
– Dominica Red Cross