Flights into the Port-au-Prince airport have been all but cancelled, and many aid agencies are flying into neighbouring Dominican Republic before making their way into Port-au-Prince. Hauke Hoops, CARE's Regional Emergency Coordinator, arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, just after midnight local time today, and spoke before boarding a plane to Port-au-Prince.
"The airport is full of aid workers, rescue teams. It is turning into the humanitarian hub," said Hoops. "I don't know what I'm going to find when I get to Port-au-Prince. Roads are blocked, and fuel will be hard to come by. Electricity is a real problem. Reports are that there is no water or food in Port-au-Prince. That will be CARE's first priority for the emergency response, and I am working with other agencies to find options to procure additional food and water for the people affected. Maybe from Gonaives, maybe from Dominican Republic."
CARE has already shipped water purification sachets from nearby Panama to Port-au-Prince, and is prepared to distribute 60,000 meals of high-energy biscuits to the affected population. Joseph Francoeur Jean, CARE's Project Manager in the nearby Haitian city of Gonaives, said the immediate needs are first-aid supplies, water purification solution, body bags, and emergency food rations.
"This is Haiti's darkest day," said Jean from Gonaives. "This was a hard blow for Haiti and our colleagues, some of whom lost children. In addition to the emergency, we also need to think about giving people psychosocial help, and assist them to rebuild their homes and their lives."
CARE hasn't yet been able to determine if all our staff are safe, but we are getting increasing reports of family members who perished in the quake, particularly children. CARE staff around the world are thinking of our colleagues in Haiti who have lost relatives in the disaster, and to all Haitians affected by this tragedy.
CARE has increased its immediate emergency allocation for the emergency to more than US$700,000, to enable our emergency teams already on the ground in the disaster zone to scale up our response. Additional emergency staff are on their way to Port-au-Prince today. CARE plans to start distributions of high-protein biscuits from warehouses in Haiti, and we are working together with the World Food Programme to start supplying food to the affected population. CARE is coordinating with other UN agencies and aid organizations in the joint assessment to gather more detailed information about the damage and the needs.
CARE has 133 staff already working in Haiti, with extensive experience responding to disasters. CARE began operating in Haiti in 1954 to provide relief assistance after Hurricane Hazel. Today CARE's work in Haiti includes projects in HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, maternal and child health, education, food security, and water and sanitation.
For more information or to arrange interviews with staff in Haiti:
Melanie Brooks (in Geneva): +41 79 590 30 47, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Feagans (in Atlanta): +1 404-457-4644, email@example.com
Stephanie Libby (in Atlanta): +1 404-979-9182, firstname.lastname@example.org
About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is one of the world's largest humanitarian aid agencies. In nearly 70 countries, CARE works with the poorest communities to improve basic health and education, enhance rural livelihoods and food security, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity, and provide lifesaving assistance after disasters. CARE is based in Geneva, Switzerland.