Haiti

Haiti Earthquake Emergency Appeal

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As many as 100,000 people are feared dead after a devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck the impoverished nation of Haiti.

Buildings were destroyed and people were buried under tonnes of rubble after the massive quake struck close to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince at around 9am (AEST) 13 January 2010.

This earthquake, the most powerful to hit Haiti in more than 200 years, levelled hospitals, churches, schools, shanties and many other buildings.

Eyewitness reports described local people digging for survivors while other traumatized citizens roamed the streets dazed and sobbing amid scenes of utter devastation.

One young man told reporters: "Too many people are dying. We need international help. No emergency aid, no food, no phone, no water, no nothing."

The capital was reportedly without electricity following the powerful earthquake and the two strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5 magnitude. Many people have been made homeless and are in urgent need of medical care, clean water, food and shelter.

AngliCORD has launched an emergency appeal in response to the disaster in Haiti.

CEO Misha Coleman urged people to donate whatever they could afford to help those affected.

"This is a tragedy for a region which was already desperately poor. The devastation is unimaginable and the true horror is only beginning to emerge.

"I am calling on all Anglicans to support the people of Haiti in their hour of need. Please donate now," Ms Coleman said.

AngliCORD will direct all donations through the Action by Churches Together (ACT) Alliance, a global alliance of churches and related agencies responding to emergencies.

Members of the ACT Alliance are already on the ground in Haiti, assisting those affected by the earthquake. ACT staff are carrying out assessments of damage and the needs of survivors.

ACT is sending a rapid support team including a response coordinator, water and sanitation experts and trauma councillors. ACT members, including AngliCORD, are also sending water and sanitation materials and hygiene kits to the devastated area.

The quake's epicentre was only 16 km from Port-au-Prince, where some 1 million people live, many of them in sprawling shanty towns and extreme poverty. Around 10 million people live in Haiti as a whole.

Rev. Kesner Ajax, Executive Director of the Bishop Tharp Institute (BTI) in Haiti, said: "According to reports I have received here in Les Cayes, the damage in Port au Prince and areas around it is terrible.

"There is no Cathedral. The entire Holy Trinity complex is gone. The convent for the Sisters of St. Margaret is gone. The Bishop's house is gone."

The office of Christian Aid - one of the ACT Alliance members in Haiti - collapsed and three people had to be rescued from the rubble.

"Many people have been killed by falling debris and there are still many more trapped under the rubble, in desperate need of assistance," said Nick Guttman, head of Christian Aid's humanitarian division.

Haitian President Rene Preval called the damage "unimaginable" and described stepping over dead bodies and hearing the cries of those trapped in the collapsed Parliament building, where the Senate president was among those pinned by debris.

John Nduna, the General Secretary of ACT Alliance expressed condolences for the affected families and with those organisations that have lost staff.

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, said: "Once again the people of Haiti have experienced the great burdens of anguish, damage, and death because of a natural catastrophe. They already carry many burdens of political instability and poverty."

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith said: "This is a tragedy for Haiti, a country which has experienced a great deal of suffering in recent decades."

ACT Alliance members in Haiti:

Christian Aid

Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe - DKH

Lutheran World Federation - LWF

Swiss Interchurch Aid - HEKS

United Methodist Committee on Relief - UMCOR

Donate

To donate online please click here.

Or call us to donate on freecall 1800 249 880 or (03) 9495 6100.

Please support the people affected by the disaster in Haiti. Please give generously.

In the unlikely event that donations to the Haiti Appeal exceed requirements, excess funds will be reallocated to other high-priority projects.

Image (top right): A woman in the ruins in Port-au-Prince after the 7.3 magnitude earthquake. By Globovisión.

Additional reporting from ACT, AlertNet