Australians digging deep to help survivors in Haiti (15/01/10)

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Australians have pledged nearly $400,000 through the Red Cross Haiti Earthquake 2010 Appeal in less than 24 hours.

By mid afternoon today, more than 3,000 people had made donations to the appeal, which was launched yesterday afternoon in support of Red Cross relief and recovery efforts in the devastated capital of Port au Prince and surrounds.

Donna McSkimming, Head of the International Program, said the response from Australians had been impressive and thanked the public for its generosity to date.

We know that Australians have a history of being generous in times of emergency, and this has been no exception, Ms McSkimming said.

We would like to thank those who have given generously, but emphasise that the relief needs of the Haitian community are huge and we still need people to donate.

We are seeing devastation on a massive scale and we still don't even know the full extent of it. The earthquake compounds already very difficult humanitarian conditions in the country and it is going to take a major international effort to help the Haitian community at this time.

Ms McSkimming said the best and most direct way for Australians to help was to donate through the Red Cross appeal as funds raised would directly support emergency relief, rehabilitation and recovery activities.

Australians have always given generously in times of crisis and we would like to thank them for enabling us to provide support and relief where it is needed most, she said.

How to donate (donations are tax deductable):

Visit www.redcross.org.au to make a secure online donation,

or Make a donation via credit card by phoning 1800 811 700, <

or Send a cheque or money order with a note indicating the donation is to the Haiti Earthquake 2010 Appeal to:

Australian Red Cross Supporter Services
PO Box 2957, Melbourne, Vic 8060

Note: Australian Red Cross will not deduct more than 10% of any donation for an international appeal to cover appeal costs. Should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people of the affected areas, Australian Red Cross will direct the excess funds to other emergency preparedness and response initiatives in the region. Any interest earned on donations will be directed back into the appeal.

Red Cross Response to Date

Red Cross has launched a preliminary global appeal seeking US$10 million to assist 20,000 families - that's about 100,000 beneficiaries for nine months.

This is just the beginning of what is going to be a massive humanitarian response.

Local and international Red Cross staff and volunteers are distributing relief and providing basic first aid in the most needed areas. One of the major priorities at this time is to assess and identify the needs of communities to make sure the right kind of help is being provided.

Haiti Red Cross staff and volunteers are continuing to assist people who are injured and homeless. Haitian Red Cross prepositioned stocks of emergency items are being used to assist earthquake survivors.

Additional relief items including kitchen kits, personal hygiene articles, blankets and tarpaulins have been sent. A planeload of supplies, mainly medical items, were due to arrive today.

We know that the most urgent needs continue to be:

search and rescue
emergency health care
providing clean water
o emergency shelter
o letting people know that their loved ones are ok

Red Cross has sent specialists and equipment relating to:

A basic health unit and a field hospital
Water and sanitation
Engineers, a surgeon, specialists in reuniting families separated by disasters, as well as specialists in economic security, logistics and IT specialists have arrived.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has staff focusing on repairing telecommunications infrastructure and coordinating with other agencies to gain a clearer picture of the situation.

ICRC staff and volunteers are also working to ensure that the bodies of the dead can be recovered and identified for the benefit of the families.

Media Enquiries: Jacqui Pringle 0448 571 484