Haiti: Earthquake relief
I. Overall Situation
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in the late evening on Tuesday, 12 January. The quake's epicentre was only 10 miles (16 km) from Port-au-Prince, which has a population of about 1.3 million. It is estimated that overall three million people may be affected by Haiti's worst earthquake in 200 years. The quake destroyed an unknown number of buildings and homes and caused significant damage to the infrastructure, roads and the communication system. The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance, however, cannot be determined exactly until the extent of the damage is known. The death toll is still unknown but is expected to be high.
According to OCHA ( United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), immediate priorities include search and rescue, medical services and supplies, clean water and sanitation, emergency shelter, food, logistics and telecommunications. A limited number of search and rescue teams have arrived at Port-au-Prince airport. The members of the UN Disaster and Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) have started to arrive in the country. UNDAC will set up a reception centre at the airport in Port-au-Prince. The United Nations will release US $ 10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
Haiti is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 8 out of 10 people living in extreme poverty and will therefore depend on international assistance in order to cope with this disaster.
II. Malteser International activities
Today, 14 January 2010, Malteser International is sending an eight-headed medical team via the Dominican Republic to Haiti. The team consists of two members - one medical doctor, one logisticians - of "Ordre de Malte France", two medical staff members - both native Haitians - from the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta in Miami and three members - two medical doctors, one public health expert - of Malteser Germany. Head of the mission is the Malteser International emergency relief coordinator Dr. Georg Nothelle. All team members are expected to meet at the Santo Domingo airport (Dominican Republic) and then try to reach Port-au-Prince (Haiti) by car as the Port-au-Prince airport due to damages was closed for scheduled flights.
On the ground, the logistical preparation for the emergency relief mission is at present realized by His Excellency Hans Rothe, Ambassador of the Order of Malta to Haiti, residing in Santo Domingo.
The team's mission will be:
1. provision of first aid and basic health care
2. needs assessment in the crisis region
3. information and communication into the
English, French and German language areas
Furthermore, three medical experts from the US associations, one water technician from the French association and further medical staff from the Malteser International Rapid Deployment Unit RDU are on stand-by in order to support the international Malteser team on the ground. Malteser International is extremely grateful for this support and preparedness. However, for the time being no additional staff will be sent unless the real need on the spot is known. Nevertheless, based on the further development and the assessment results that we expect for next week, it cannot be excluded that Malteser International might need additional volunteer staff, especially in the medical field, to support the team in Haiti. We shall keep you informed about all further developments.
For about 15 years already, the Order of Malta has been supporting a hospital in the north of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The emergency relief of Malteser International is coordinated within the worldwide international network of the Order of Malta. Mr. Geoffrey Gamble, Vice-President of Malteser International from the USA is prepared to visit Haiti as soon as possible in order to meet our team on the ground.