SILVER SPRING, Md. -Extensive displacement and the lack of clean drinking water in Haiti's devastated capital of Port-au-Prince are rapidly contributing toward a mounting humanitarian crisis, as survivors struggle to find water access and safe areas to stay four days after a powerful quake struck the city and surrounding rural communities, according to an Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) emergency response team that arrived in the Haitian capital yesterday.
"Water is at a premium," says Raymond Chevalier, who is helping coordinate the logistics for ADRA's emergency response in Haiti. "In the following days, we expect civil unrest to grow especially in some of the overcrowded areas where people have sought shelter, unless an abundant supply of water and other forms of aid are quickly made available to them."
In Haiti, particularly in Port-au-Prince, water and sanitation are a priority, given that normally only 50 percent of the country's population has access to clean drinking water, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, makeshift camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) have sprung up throughout different parts of the city, including on the grounds of the presidential palace, ADRA staff reported.
"Preliminary estimates from our UN emergency teams show widespread damage to infrastructure in Port au Prince and other affected areas, with as many as 50 percent of buildings in the worst-hit areas damaged or destroyed," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement yesterday. "A high proportion of the 3 million people in the capital area are without access to food, water, shelter and electricity."
ADRA is staging relief operations at the campus of the Haitian Adventist University in Carrefour, located in Port-au-Prince, where some 30,000 IDPs have sought refuge since the quake struck on January 12.
ADRA partner GlobalMedic is already working to distribute more than 2 million water purification tablets and other water cleaning systems. A new shipment of purification tablets and oral rehydration salts will be airlifted tonight from Toronto's Pearson International Airport to Haiti. In addition, a team of doctors and emergency specialists has already begun providing medical assistance to the injured. The group plans to set-up a 22 ft. x 42 ft. inflatable field hospital to focus on restoring medical services and infrastructure. Local aid groups will receive training on the installation, operation and maintenance of the gear so that it remains operational for as long as it is need.
Go to Time.com to read a full account of ADRA's emergency response arriving in Haiti.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that Port-au-Prince is filled with displaced people who are fearful of returning to their homes due to the high risk of more tremors and further building collapse. Thousands of people are sleeping in the open at night in areas where the bodies have not been buried or recovered. Damage to water sources, infrastructure, electricity grid and telecommunications also has been severe.
To send your contribution to ADRA's Haiti Earthquake Response Fund, please contact ADRA at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or give online at www.adra.org.
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ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.
For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org.
Author: Hearly Mayr
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