Caritas staff visited badly affected areas of the capital Port-au-Prince yesterday to assess immediate requirements. At least 60 tents were distributed to families in desperate need. First aid was provided to some of the survivors in clinics and hospitals.
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. Caritas Haiti President Bishop Pierre André Dumas has appealed on the radio for calm and solidarity. "The immediate needs are for tents for provisional shelters, covers, clothing, clean water, food, psychological support, first aid materials, drugs, flashlights and batteries. Caritas has no supplies left."
Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said, "We are in solidarity with the people of Haiti. Caritas will be providing desperately needed aid. Caritas and its church partners have extensive experience in Haiti delivering shelter, food, healthcare, and clean water through the communities in which we work.
"We urge the international community to support aid efforts. Haiti is a very poor country that needs our assistance. We have long warned that the lack of development in Haiti, its dire poverty, and its decaying infrastructure leaves it vulnerable to disasters. We are facing such an emergency now and we must respond quickly to save lives.
"One of the poorest nations in our world will be the focus of media attention and the outpouring of humanitarian assistance as a result of this natural disaster. May this bring with it lasting solutions and commitment to alleviate the misery of Haitians and the infrastructural poverty of this beleaguered nation."
Caritas Haiti and Caritas members working in the country have available warehouses, 200 medical centres, and a strong community network of volunteers that are being used to deliver aid. Caritas Internationalis is sending a team of international staff to support the national operations in areas including food, shelter, sanitation, communications and logistics.
Caritas is accepting donations for Haiti
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