"Bodies everywhere on the streets of the capital" of Haiti

News and Press Release
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Written by Conor OLoughlin

Trócaire has committed an initial €200,000 to the emergency response in Haiti as its partners tell of "bodies everywhere on the streets of the capital" and it emerges that up to three million people could be in need of life-saving assistance, the aid agency said today.

One of Trócaire's main partners on the ground, Caritas Haiti, has begun providing first aid, tents and blankets to survivors of Tuesday night's earthquake. The emergency response team of Caritas Haiti is working around the clock to provide support to people in urgent need.

Staff of Caritas Haiti, with whom Trócaire has worked since 2000, visited badly affected areas of the capital Port-au-Prince yesterday to assess immediate requirements. 60 tents were distributed to families in desperate need and survivors were brought to Caritas clinics and hospitals for initial first aid.

Caritas Haiti Head of Emergencies Joseph Jonidès Villarson said, "This is the worst disaster Haiti has experienced. Many people have been killed in Port-au-Prince. Their bodies are everywhere on the streets of the capital. People are still under the debris. The hospitals are overwhelmed with the dead and injured. The risk of disease is great.

"The streets and public places are filled with people who do not know where to go. We fear violence if the situation continues. Looting has already broken out. There is very little visible presence of the police.

Trócaire emergency programme manager Maurice McQuillan said, "The immediate needs are for tents for provisional shelters, covers, clothing, clean water, food, psychological support, first aid materials, drugs, flashlights and batteries.

"Given Haiti's vulnerability to hurricanes, Caritas Haiti are highly skilled in the provision of emergency shelter, food, healthcare, and clean water. Through them, Trócaire will be providing desperately needed aid."

80% of Haitians are Catholic and the church there has opened its networks to facilitate Caritas' provision of aid.

Caritas Internationalis, an international confederation of 162 catholic aid agencies of which Trócaire is a member, is sending a team of international staff to support the national operations in areas including food, shelter, sanitation, communications and logistics. Caritas agencies in Haiti have available warehouses, 200 medical centres, and a strong community network of volunteers that are being used to deliver aid.

"Haiti is a very poor country that needs our assistance. Trócaire has worked there since 1991 and has long warned that the lack of development in Haiti, its dire poverty, and its decaying infrastructure leaves it vulnerable to disasters and our work in the country has focused on helping communities prepare for such events.