Relief experts arrive in quake struck Haiti

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14 January 2010: A team of international experts from Plan will arrive in Haiti today to help deliver emergency aid to the millions of people affected by the devastating earthquake that struck on Tuesday.

Plan experts specialising in disasters, humanitarian relief, resource management and communications will provide desperately needed assistance. They will join local staff and other agencies who have been working round the clock to provide emergency relief.

Plan has already released US$500,000 of emergency funds and has launched a massive appeal to help over 3,000,000 people who have been affected by the 7.0 magnitude quake. Hundreds of thousands of people are injured, missing or feared dead.

Please donate to the Haiti earthquake appeal today.

Unimaginable devastation

Plan Haiti Director Rezene Tesfamariam said the devastation in the capital Port-au-Prince was on an "unimaginable" scale.

"People are trying to recover bodies from buildings all over the city. The emergency services are overworked and most of the bodies are being recovered by loved ones. They are using whatever they can, their bare hands or rudimentary tools like shovels or pick-axes," he said.

"Makeshift camps are springing up across the city and Plan is involved in assessing people's needs.

"I've seen villages destroyed by floods but this is something else. I've worked for Plan for 27 years and have seen all kinds of tragedies. I've seen refugees fighting for their lives and floods destroy communities but I've never seen anything like this."

Emergency aid

Initial aid will focus on providing safe water and sanitation, health care and counselling to children, who are most vulnerable in the wake of a disaster. Having worked in Haiti for 36 years, Plan is well placed to know what assistance will be needed immediately and in the long term.

Plan Director of Humanitarian Response & Disasters Roger Yates said the Haitian people were doing their best to respond to the disaster, but international help was vital.

He said: "In such a terrible time, outside support is going to be really important. Children are always the most vulnerable in these situations, particularly those who have lost parents and Plan staff are already working to help communities protect these children."

Away from the central urban area of Port-au-Prince, where the devestation has been widely reported, staff have also reported severe damage in Jacmel and Croix-des-Bouquets, two of the areas where Plan operates.