ODPEM to Coordinate Local Haiti Relief Assistance

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An emergency centre has been established at the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), 2-4 Haining Road, New Kingston, to coordinate relief assistance generated locally for Haiti.

Speaking at a media briefing at Jamaica House on Friday (January15), Minister with responsibility for Information, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said that ODPEM would be responsible for streamlining all forms of assistance that would be forthcoming, to ensure that delivery and dispatch is smooth.

"They will advise you how best to get it to Haiti, and what to do with it. We have a number of volunteer organizations.the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, who have people over there, who can coordinate for you and make it possible for the relief to reach the persons in need in the shortest possible time," Mr. Vaz assured.

He explained that deliveries can be made either to ODPEM's head office or, in the case of parish deliveries, at Parish Council offices, the Red Cross, Salvation Army or the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency (ADRA). They will then be moved to ODPEM's head office for dispatching.

The Minister pointed out that Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders, has appointed an officer at the rank of Major, on the ground in Haiti, to act as liaison for the relief effort from Jamaica.

"He will then liaise with the Haitian Government and the United Nations, in terms of making sure that whatever comes to Haiti can be redirected to where it needs to go, as a matter of urgency," he said.

Space has been provided at the airport in Haiti to store supplies and dispatch them, through the military contingent there.

Based on discussions between Jamaica's Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, and Haitian President Rene Preval, during Mr. Golding's visit to Haiti on Thursday, priority items needed include: water purification tablets, basic food items, tinned foods, lanterns (batteries and kerosene), toiletries, hygiene and first aid kits.

"We're asking everybody to, as best as possible, package and label the items, so we can prioritize what needs to go first," Mr. Vaz urged. He also disclosed that an account number, 212-387-304, has been opened with the National Commercial Bank (NCB) to facilitate cash donations at any branch of the bank.

"The monies that will be raised through this account will be used to purchase some of these well needed emergency supplies for the relief effort," he said.

Additionally, he invited persons desirous of volunteering their expertise to go to Haiti, to contact ODPEM to facilitate arrangements for their trip and accommodation. Mr. Vaz said that expressions of interest have been forthcoming from several professionals, including doctors and engineers