Caritas aid arriving in Haiti

Caritas aid is arriving in Port-au-Prince, while rescue attempts still continue for those caught in the rumble after a devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Caritas rescuers pulled three people out of a collapsed building alive as late as Saturday, five days after the earthquake.

In a massive swell of solidarity, Caritas organisations have sent 200,000 blankets, 15,000 tents, water cans and purification tablets, as well as food water and hygiene kits. Twenty trucks of aid arrived in Port-au-Prince on Sunday.

Caritas has set up two mobile operating theatres with pre- and post operative care and provided medicines and fuel. Six mobile clinics are also planned.

An emergency clinic is being flown in from Holland. The Dutch plane also will contain a surgeon, six technical staff for installing water purifying installations and seven water purifying installations.

Thirty-four tonnes of aid will be flown into Haiti from Germany on Tuesday. Half will given out in Port-au-Prince and the other half will be distributed in Jacmel, in the south of the country. A ship with 80 containers of food has also arrived.

"The real strength of Caritas is its network of parishes that gives us direct contact with communities and a point from which we can provide help," said Alistair Dutton, Humanitarian Director for Caritas Internationalis, who is leading the international coordination of the Caritas aid agencies response from Port-au-Prince.

Distribution of aid remains a challenge. Caritas has undertaken small-scale distributions of food, water and hygiene kits. Aid agencies fear a breakdown in public order in larger distributions as many people have had limited food and water since the earthquake.

Last Tuesday's disaster has left up to three million people in need of help. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake flattened tens of thousands of houses in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas and caused massive damage to infrastructure.

Aid deliveries were initially hampered when the airport was closed in the aftermath and the port was too damaged to function. Roads are blocked by rubble and earthquake damage to infrastructure means that aid delivery has been slow.

Caritas Haiti, Catholic Relief Services (CRS - a Caritas member from the USA) and Caritas Switzerland were already on the ground before the disaster managing development programmes.

Please contact Michelle Hough in Haiti by sms on 00393342344136 to arrange an interview by satellite phone. Interviews are available in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and German. Or try contacting Jos de Voogd on 00 881 0622 41 94 85