Belgium helps victims of the earthquake in Haiti

Belgium is taking action to help Haiti in the form of a B-FAST emergency team and funds to provide emergency aid, following the massive earthquake that has devastated the country. Belgian Development Cooperation has freed up €1 million for these efforts. The B-FAST emergency team comprises a medical intervention team, an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team and a drinking-water purification facility.

On the night of Tuesday, 12 to Wednesday, 13 January, Haiti - the poorest country in the western hemisphere - was hit by a devastating earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale and, according to initial estimates, claiming tens of thousands of lives. Many buildings collapsed in the capital Port-au-Prince, including the presidential palace, a number of ministries and the UN offices in the country, and the slight improvements in Haitians' living conditions that have been seen in recent years were undone in a matter of a few seconds.

€1 million for affected communities

Belgian Development Cooperation quickly decided to free up €1 million to purchase and coordinate emergency aid. International organisations such as UNICEF and NGOs, e.g. the Belgian Red Cross, were contacted with a view to spending these funds as effectively as possible, since aid must be used to help the worst-affected sections of the population, which is why Belgian Development Cooperation is advocating careful international coordination of the aid effort.

B-FAST emergency team

A B-FAST emergency team left for Haiti on Wednesday evening to help the victims of the earthquake. The team comprises some 60 people, falling into three groups:

a medical intervention team with a field hospital (20 people);

an Urban Search and Rescue team of 33 people and four sniffer dogs;

a drinking-water purification facility with two technicians.

The total cost of this B-FAST mission is estimated to be about €450,000, including €300,000 for transport, €80,000 for the field hospital and €30,000 for water purification.