IOM to begin distributing emergency relief ro Haitian earthquake victims

News and Press Release
Originally published
With search and rescue efforts in Haiti continuing in a race against the clock to find those still buried under the rubble from Tuesday's massive earthquake, IOM is to distribute emergency relief material from stocks already in the country.

The distributions, to begin jointly later today with the World Food Programme, will consist of non-food items such as tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, water containers and bladders, and some shelter material.

IOM's chief of mission in Haiti, Vincent Houver, said the Organization has enough stock in the country to assist an estimated 10,000 families, but a far greater level of support is needed.

"What we need is tents, tents and more tents. We need large or individual tents, whatever is available, and financial support quickly," he added.

IOM will be leading the coordination of emergency shelter and non-food emergency relief aid among humanitarian actors responding to the disaster and will appeal for funds through the UN's Flash Appeal.

IOM and other humanitarian actors on the ground report the main needs as emergency health, water and sanitation, shelter, food and non-food items, logistics, rubble removal and telecommunications.

To support IOM staff and operations on the ground, which include seven sub-offices throughout the country, IOM is also deploying a team of emergency experts.

Although all IOM international staff have been accounted for, contact has still not been made with some national staff. The Organization has a total of 89 staff in the country.

The Haitian capital was the worst hit by the earthquake which registered 7.0 on the Richter scale off the Haitian coast some 17 kilometres from Port-au-Prince. An estimated one million people at least are affected and large numbers of people believed to have been killed, though with communications extremely difficult and the city in chaos, the true scale of the damage is unknown.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the disaster has caused massive loss of life, injuries, major damage to private homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings and key infrastructure in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Reports from some of the IOM sub-offices have filtered in with staff in the town of St.Marc who visited a local hospital saying that about 50 injured people had come in from Port-au-Prince for treatment. Many people were also looking in the hospital for lost family members. St.Marc was reported to have suffered minor damages and no injuries.

IOM has been working in Haiti since 1994. On-going programmes and projects cover activities such as humanitarian and emergency response, rule of law, early recovery, security sector reform and post-crisis community stabilization.

IOM Haiti is part of the UN Country Team and works closely with UN partners on emergency response and early recovery. IOM is also part of the national emergency response and works closely with civil protection.

For more information, please contact Jean Philippe Chauzy or Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9361/+41 79 285 4366 or + 41 22 717 9486/+ 41 79 217 3374, Email: pchauzy@iom.int or jpandya@iom.int or Niurka Pineiro at IOM Washington, Tel: +1 202 862 1826 ext 225 or email: npineiro@iom.int