The Inter-American System Responds to the Earthquake in Haiti

News and Press Release
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Following Tuesday's devastating earthquake that left Haiti in virtual isolation, the organizations that make up the Inter-American System immediately responded by setting in motion various complementary relief initiatives while simultaneously conducting assessments of injuries to their personnel and damage to their facilities in Port-au-Prince. These collective efforts were led by the Organization of American States (OAS) and its affiliate, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF); along with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). The headquarters of PAHO and IDB have been damaged and are unusable while the Haiti National Office of the OAS is incommunicado.

The day after the earthquake, OAS Member States exchanged coordinated pledges of assistance to Haiti during meetings of the OAS Permanent Council and the OAS Group of Friends of Haiti. In order to support the continuity of coordinated efforts, the OAS set up an Operations Control Room to monitor the response of the Inter-American System to the tragedy.

At this time initiatives have been taken in the three areas where help is most urgent: collection of funds, immediate relief to the victims and future reconstruction plans.

Collection of Funds

- The OAS is reviewing its financial resources to build an Assistance Fund for Haiti with at least one million dollars.

- The OAS gave the Permanent Representative of Haiti, Duly Brutus, a donation of 100.000 dollars.

- The PADF opened an account to collect funds with the objective of reaching 10 million dollars. Donations may be channeled through the web site www.PanamericanRelief.org

- The IDB Haiti portfolio holds some 330 million dollars in undisbursed funds, of which 90 million could be quickly redirected to high-priority civil works and reconstruction projects.

- The IDB announced an emergency donation to the government of Haiti of 200.000 dollars.

- The OAS has opened an account to channel the donations of its employees. The Personnel Association will donate matching funds from its Emergency Fund.

- PAHO has advanced 200.000 dollars from its disaster response fund to initiate immediate critical activities.

Immediate Relief to the Victims

- PADF personnel in Haiti already conducted a preliminary assessment following the disaster: 75 percent of Port-au-Prince has been affected, there are very few resources on the ground, and the greatest needs are water, food and blankets.

- Experts of the PAHO Regional Response team immediately traveled to the Dominican Republic and from there made their way to Port-au-Prince. Similarly, the PADF established a distribution channel of needs assistance through the neighbor country: from a warehouse at their disposal in Santo Domingo the goods are transported to Jimaní, on the border with Haiti, from where they are sent to Port-au-Prince, a trajectory that takes 1.5 hours by land.

- An initial shipment from the PADF to Haiti is of 7.000 canteens of water, 1.000 sleeping bags and shelter packages (including tents, water purification tablets and cooking supplies, among other things) for 500 people; another shipment is ready of between 40 and 50 22-ton containers of fortified rice, equivalent to 275.000 food servings; and it is preparing another dispatch of between 12.000 and 18.000 anti-diarrhea medicine boxes to be placed at the disposal of PAHO.

- Faced with the collapse of conventional forms of communication in Haiti, the OAS General Secretariat is ready to send satellite telephones, satellite uplinks for computers and technicians to operate them.

- PAHO already sent trauma kits for 500 victims for 10 days.

Future Reconstruction Plans

- This year the IDB hopes to approve up to 128 million dollars in new donations for Haiti, facilitating more resources for reconstruction.

- IICA will immediately begin to assess the damages in the rural areas and the more pressing needs in relation to food production.


- PADF will undertake an immediate public awareness campaign at all the airports in the American continent to encourage donations, and will transport Haitian actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, founder of the NGO "Hollywood Unites for Haiti," to Haiti.