Haiti: Survivors desperate for aid

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Search and rescue efforts are continuing in Haiti, with reports of survivors still being pulled from the rubble.

Haiti's worst quake in two centuries hit on Tuesday.The UN says that up to 80-90% of buildings in Leogane, the epicentre which is about 19km (12 miles) west of Port-au-Prince, have been completely destroyed.

The Pan American Health Orgnanisation has estimated the number of dead could be as high as 100,000.

It is estimated that at least 3.5 million people have been affected directly or indirectly by this tragedy.

Thousands of survivors are in desperate need of food, water, medication, shelter and emotional support.

Assistance for older people

Bertin Meance, Emergencies Programme Officer in Haiti, has been in Petion-Ville today in central Port-au-Prince.

He says:

"People were starting to get some assistance, although not a lot. I saw search and rescue activities still going on.

"I was able to talk with our local partner CARPA. The CARPA office was severely damaged but the staff are ok. Mr. Sony Cely of CARPA requested assistance for 300 older people - food and water to start with, then other basic essential items."

Security risks

Meanwhile our international Emergency Response Team are trying to get into Haiti by making their way across the border from the Dominican Republic.

There are however now security risks on the road to Port-au-Prince which will affect aid agencies.

Partners quick to act

The team have met up with Simon Bolivar the Director of ALA Dominicana, our partner in the Dominican Republic. ALA are sending Mobile Medical Units to support relief efforts, led by gerontologist Dr Rosy Pereyra Ariza.

We are also working with local partner APROSIFA which operates in the slums of Port Au Prince.

Older people must not be forgotten

Bertin Meance continues: "I look forward to welcoming the emergencies team from the UK and Jamaica. Together with our partners, we will set up up a team to assist the victims.

"More importantly we will reach the older people, a group that can get left behind and forgotten in a catastrophe of this magnitude. We will find these older people to let them know they are not alone.

"Many will have to take care of their orphaned grandchildren and deal with the trauma of having lost their loved ones.to a disaster of the kind they have never experienced before in their lives. We know that this work is for the short, medium and long term."

How you can help

Our international sister organisations have launched appeals to support our response in Haiti.

You can donate to our Haiti relief efforts through:

* Age Concern and Help the Aged in the UK

* HelpAge USA

* HelpAge Germany.

We are also part of Disasters Emergency Committee Haiti Earthquake Appeal which was launched yesterday.

The DEC is an umbrella organisation that launches and coordinates the UK's national appeals in response to major disasters overseas. HelpAge International's sister organisation Age Concern and Hep the Aged is a member.