International aid agency Oxfam has today launched an appeal for millions of pounds as it geared up its response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti.
The extent of the devastation is still unclear but local officials are reporting a catastrophe of major proportions. Thousands are feared dead, millions are affected, and major buildings - such as the presidential palace - have collapsed.
Oxfam has a 100 strong-team working across Haiti - including 15 emergency specialists - and will be responding with public health, water and sanitation services to prevent the spread of waterborne disease. It also has links with a large network of community volunteers who can get aid to affected people quickly.
Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's International Director said:
"We have a strong and highly experienced team in Haiti, who responded to the hurricanes that wrecked havoc in the country in 2008. They are ready to respond to the devastation caused by this horrific earthquake.
"More than 85 percent of people in Haiti already live in poverty. With major buildings destroyed it is likely that less well-constructed homes will be even more seriously affected. This earthquake is grim news for the poor people of Haiti. We are calling for the generous support of the UK public to help us save lives."
Oxfam has emergency stocks pre-positioned in Panama, Mexico and in Bicester, Oxford and is primed to send them to the quake zone if needed.