AMI Foundation - Portugal stays in Haiti: Six months of dedication and commitment

News and Press Release
Originally published
Six months have passed since the earthquake hit the Haitian capital on January 12, but the situation on the ground remains very complicated. Beyond the tragic death toll and numerous wounded that caught the focus of the initial attention, new concerns emerged shortly thereafter: one such being the faith of all the affected population. The massive destruction of the most part of housing left over 2 million people (a quarter of the country's total population) deprived of safe shelter or means of subsistence.

The objectives AMI Foundation set for itself have always been very clear and defined: to evaluate the situation on the ground as quickly as possible so to define an intervention project in coordination with the strategies of the international community and local authorities, while making sure its intervention commenced at the earliest possible time by sending human and logistic resources as soon as possible.

Following the first emergency phase, which lasted a little over a month, the second emergency phase ensued. If the former focused on the key idea of saving lives directly and immediately imperiled by the catastrophe, the latter's main concern is to stabilize and contain the damage caused by this event.

It is in this context that AMI agreed to take over management of the Parc Colofer displaced persons camp originally established by the Portuguese Mission in Haiti, following the protocol established with the Portuguese Department of State. Having received additional funding from the International Organization for Migrations (IOM), AMI subsequently took responsibility for two more camps: Henfrasa and Palais d'Art. While the first is an established camp, the two others sprouted spontaneously out of necessity. Overall, the three camps, located in Port-au-Prince, are home to a total 10.000 earthquake victims forced to the condition of internally displaced persons.

In its role as Displaced Camp Management Coordinating Organization, AMI bases its action mainly upon two pillars: working directly with the displaced populations on the one hand, and securing the provision of services in priority sectors (health, water, food, sanitation, etc...) to the many humanitarian actors in the field on the other; actively collaborating in doing so with the Haitian Department of State and various United Nations agencies and international organizations, such as the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the International Organization for Migrations.

Additionally, within the framework of the displaced camp coordination project, AMI relies on a team of two local nurses and eleven community activists selected among the displaced population to carry out awareness-raising activities about the correct use and maintenance of the camp infrastructures which bring, among several other benefits, the indispensable health betterments. To date, 15 awareness campaigns have been carried out, mainly over the topics of personal and community hygiene and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Over 3.800 people have benefited from these initiatives.

Another priority area of intervention for AMI has been the delivery of health care to the displaced population. Since the beginning of its mission in Haiti, AMI has been running a mobile clinic composed of a team of voluntary Portuguese expatriate doctors and nurses, assisted by local nurses; assuring the displaced population, and adjacent communities, access to basic health care.

By June, over 1600 people have had access to medication and vaccines distributed by AMI, while its medical team has carried out over 3.700 consultations and over 500 nursery actions.

If up to the earthquake of January 12, the harsh reality of Haiti was unknown to many - it is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, ranking 149th of 182 countries in the Human Development Index -, they have now had a rude awakening to a situation that has since become even more worrisome.

The precarious life conditions the AMI team has had to operate in for the past six months are also notice worthy. As of lately, increasing security issues have also been reported, as time passes and social instability aggravates.

Therefore, AMI is going to maintain its intervention with expatriate teams, both at the mobile clinic and camp management levels, at least until January 2011; at which time a new assessment will be carried out.

In parallel, AMI will continue and increase its support to local organizations through the financing of microprojects submitted to us over the coming years, as has been its usual practice.

These many interventions in Haiti have only been possible thanks to the generous support of the Portuguese civil and corporate societies, and all those who have mobilized in order to assist the Haiti earthquake victims. As a result, AMI had raised 1.165.693,61 € by the end of June.

The financing the Portuguese Institute for Development Aid released for the first emergency mission and the IOM co-financing for the camp management initial phase have also been essential. As of now, AMI has a budget of 800.000€ for Haiti for 2010.