SITUATION: Haiti's security situation remains questionable, with tensions continuing between rebels and Haitian police in the country's north this week. Humanitarian assessments continue to remain difficult.
The situation in the northern part of Haiti is probably the most serious, according to recent reports. Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, say that journalists and government officials are in hiding because of security concerns
"It's been three weeks since the Multinational Interim Force arrived in Haiti, but the rule of law has yet to be reestablished in the north," Joanne Mariner, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Americas Division, said earlier this week.
During the receipt of Church World Service emergency assistance of medical supplies and food at the Dominican-Haitian border on Saturday (March 20) two Assemblies of God pastors who work in Haiti, Haitian Paul Michelet and Uruguayan Alejandro Fernandez, said that while a degree of calm has returned to parts of the country, the situation remains chaotic.
Kidnappings, shootings and rebel incursions still disrupt everyday life, they said, creating havoc for those working in humanitarian response. "This may be the quiet before the next storm," Fernandez said. "We don't know who's really in power."
Some 3 million people - more than a third of the total Haitian population -- have been affected by the current crisis, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The violence has resulted in an unknown numbers of deaths, generating fear and uncertainty, as well as up to $300 million in damaged property, according to a March 10 report in the Miami Herald.
"Humanitarian space has been repeatedly violated and most hospitals have ceased to function," Action by Churches Together (ACT) International said in a recent report. "Beyond this, the situation has created an acute humanitarian crisis because of the disruption of normal communications and economic activities."
The high level of vulnerability of the majority of the population - 48 percent of whom already had an insufficient income to be able to feed themselves adequately - means "that a shock of any kind can force them to sell their remaining assets and push them into destitution," ACT said.
CWS RESPONSE: On March 4, Church World Service issued an initial appeal in support of an immediate emergency CWS airlift of food and medicine to support efforts to assist those in need in Haiti as well as Haitian refugees in the neighboring Dominican Republic. The commodities in this airlift were requested by long-time CWS partners Social Service of Dominican Churches (SSID) and Grupo de Pastores Interdenominacionales (GPI), which are providing services to Haitian refuge seekers.
The initial shipments of emergency food and medicine for Haiti were shipped March 8 and distribution of the shipment began on Saturday (March 20). The shipment of items was coordinated on the ground by CWS International Emergency Response Liaison Don Tatlock and SSID staff.
SSID, working with church-based groups that have fostered "border-to-border" relations between churches along the Haitian-Dominican border, will supply other churches with medicines and foods for distribution in the coming weeks. GPI will also distribute some items.
Some of the overall shipment - valued at $151,003 and containing both 17,280 pounds of dehydrated food and 30 Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) medicine boxes - is also bound for other locales in Haiti, with Tatlock in Haiti this week to coordinate the start of distribution there.
The specifics of the CWS shipment:
-- The food component includes 17,280 pounds of dehydrated food, packed in two-pound bags. When hydrated, each pound of rice/potato/vegetable blend yields 25 one-cup servings, for a total of 432,000 servings.
-- The medical portion includes 30 Interchurch Medical Assistance (IMA) standard medicine boxes and eight disaster medicine boxes. Each standard medicine box contains enough basic medicine to serve 1,000 people for three months, while each disaster box contains medicine to treat the immediate medical conditions of approximately 115 people in a disaster situation, and is about 90 percent antibiotics.
A second emergency shipment has been requested by partners in Haiti. Further details on this will be forthcoming as on the ground assessment activities continue.
In addition, Church World Service is expanding the Haiti emergency appeal to include support for efforts within the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International network, including support for efforts by the Lutheran World Federation (Act Appeal # LAHT-41). This expanded appeal will support additional response to the current crisis through first aid and legal assistance; food security; health assistance; agricultural recovery; income generating activities; psychosocial assistance; and conflict resolution. Response is in nine Haitian provinces.
Specific beneficiaries and activities - provided by local partners in Haiti -- include:
First aid, legal assistance to victims of political violence: 200 recipients Medicines and medical equipment: Nearly 148,000 recipients Food security, including tools, seeds and animals: 3,750 families (a family in Haiti statistically counts 5 -7 people) Psycho-social, psychological, legal help, conflict resolution: 3,600 recipients Income-generation: 150 recipients
Total budget for this expanded response is $439,355, which includes $379,232 in direct assistance. That includes medicines, medical equipment, legal assistance, conflict resolution training, income-generation programs, etc.
This expanded appeal will continued to be revised to include other longer-term assistance plans that are being developed by CWS partners in Haiti. Contributions to support this emergency appeal may be sent to your denomination or to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515. Please designate: #6742 - Haiti Crisis. For further information about disasters to which Church World Service is responding -- or to make a credit card contribution -- please visit the Church World Service Website at www.churchworldservice.org or phone (800) 297-1516.
CWS Emergency Response Program special
contacts: (212) 870-3151; International: firstname.lastname@example.org Domestic:
CWS / ERP web site: www.cwserp.org