Haiti

Oxfam teams in Haiti initiating aid delivery

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- Govt anticipates setting up camps for quake survivors

- Water most immediate problem

- Oxfam warns that picture from rural epicentre yet to emerge

- Oxfam staff available for interview in quake zone

Oxfam staff in Haiti are providing shovels and picks for local civil workers to clear rubble to search for trapped victims in the capital, Port-au-Prince, following Tuesday's massive earthquake in Haiti.

From its Oxford UK warehouse, Oxfam also has up to 10 tonnes of water, sanitation, health and shelter equipment, valued at around £70,000, that will be flown on a specially-stripped British Airways flight to Santa Domingo at 2pm Saturday UK time. It also has pre-positioned stocks in Panama on stand-by. Oxfam plans to scale-up aid delivery are now being finalised. The destruction continues to severely hamper aid efforts. Seventeen Oxfam International humanitarian experts flew into the Dominican Republic and will arrive in Haiti today.

Oxfam has had brief and erratic communications with members of team in Haiti. Many have themselves had their houses destroyed and are now having to sleep in the street. Some have lost family members. One Oxfam staff was killed in the quake. Essential communications with the team are marginally improving. Oxfam has more communication equipment arriving today. The horrific picture of need, and the vast obstacles to getting aid to people in need, is emerging.

While international efforts are focused on establishing a foothold in the wrecked capital from which to disperse aid, Oxfam warns that the actual epicentre of the quake was in the countryside. There is no access to rural areas, so no picture yet of the disaster there and scale of people's needs.

The Oxfam team in Port-Au-Prince is working on assessments now. This is the essential first step in emergency aid delivery. Oxfam has linked with the UN and other aid agencies on the ground. The UN, many of whose own offices were levelled, has regrouped its headquarters near Port-au-Prince's stricken airport.

"This is a nightmare for survivors and aid workers alike. The airport is near ruined, communications fractured and people are traumatized and in great need. We are now beginning to get aid through despite the challenges," said Oxfam's international director Penny Lawrence.

Oxfam understands the Haitian government is planning to set up 14 camps around the capital to give people somewhere to sleep. In this situation camps could offer the best temporary solution to get food and water and sanitation to people in need. Access for survivors to clean water is probably the most immediate problem to resolve now.

The Disasters Emergency Committee – a group of the 13 leading UK aid agencies including Oxfam - launched a joint appeal for funds from the UK public today. To make a donation to the DEC Haiti appeal visit http://www.dec.org.uk or donate over the counter at any post office or high street bank, or send a cheque – see details below.

Oxfam affiliates around the world are appealing for funds. Oxfam has two staff members in Port-Au-Prince who are available for interview. They are Louis Belanger and Caroline Gluck. For further information, and to arrange interviews for Louis Belanger and Caroline Gluck, please contact Ian Bray on +44 (0)1865 472289/ +44 (0)7721 461339 or Rebecca Wynn on + 44 (0) 1865 472530/+ 44 (0) 7769 887139 or the Oxfam Media Unit hotline on 01865 472498 or email media.unit@oxfam.org.uk with enquiries.

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Rebecca Wynn

Press Officer

Oxfam

+ 44 (0) 1865 472530

+ 44 (0) 7769 887139

http://oxfam.org.uk/news

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