HelpAge and partners respond to Haiti earthquake

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The full extent of the worst calamity ever to hit Haiti is still unknown, but urgently needed international aid is now getting through to the desperate population.

Haiti's worst quake in two centuries hit south of the capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday. The quake and eight aftershocks have destroyed buildings and infrastructure and caused massive loss of life.

Those who survived are desperately in need of food, water, medication and shelter.

Assessing immediate needs

HelpAge's offices in Port-au-Prince were badly damaged so local staff are not able to run emergency operations from there. However, they are getting on with the job of assessing the immediate needs of survivors on the ground.

Our emergency team will arrive in Port-au-Prince this weekend to reinforce relief efforts.

"We are currently assessing needs in areas hit by the quake. Our response will focus on older people and will include emergency healthcare, psychosocial support, relief supplies and temporary shelter," says Frances Stevenson, Head of Emergencies at HelpAge.

"One of HelpAge's Haitian partners, APROSIFA runs community clinics and provides free medication to older people in the slums of Port-au-Prince. Even before the quake hit, APROSIFA identified that the most urgent need for older people was food supplies."

Working with local partners

HelpAge has been working with local partners in Haiti for several years. We have helped local communities prepare for natural disasters and reduce the risks of a disaster.

"Working through partners on the ground is a very important priority for us. It means we support local people and use local resources, maintaining long term capacity and reducing dependency," continues Frances Stevenson.

"HelpAge's team in Port-au-Prince will be joined by staff from the Regional Office in Jamaica and Emergencies Team in London.

"We are getting in touch with our network of long term partners in Haiti to support their response to the emergency. We know already that some of them lost staff in the earthquake."

HelpAge's partner in neighbouring Dominican Republic, ALA Dominicana, has been quick to show its support and is sending two mobile medical teams to Haiti.

Fifteenth disaster in 10 years

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. 56% of the population live on less than US$1 a day. The country has also suffered decades of violence and political instability.

This earthquake - the fifteenth disaster to hit Haiti since 2000 - has dealt a further devastating blow to an already fragile nation.

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.

The DEC is an umbrella organisation that launches and coordinates the UK's national appeals in response to major disasters overseas. HelpAge International's partner organisation Age Concern and Help the Aged, is one of the members.

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