Shelter, Water and Food of Increasing Importance for Haiti's Earthquake Victims

News and Press Release
Originally published
IOM is today jointly carrying out a second wave of distributions of food and non-food emergency relief items with the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) to victims of Haiti's earthquake for whom shelter, water and food are now in desperate short supply.

The distribution of non-food items that include tarpaulins, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, bladders, and some shelter material by IOM, will be carried out in three locations around the capital, Port-au-Prince to assist 8,000 people.

Yesterday, IOM and WFP carried out a similar distribution to about 4,000 survivors who had gathered in the Prime Minister's compound, in Place Boyer and at the Villa Creole, where a mobile hospital has been established. However, the distribution at Place Boyer had to be stopped due to overcrowding and security concerns.

Due to ongoing operations in Haiti prior to Tuesday's devastating earthquake, IOM had a stockpile of non-food items to assist 10,000 families. However, a far greater level of support is needed urgently to assist the hundreds of thousands of families displaced or affected by the earthquake. Three days after the powerful earthquake, many thousands of people are without any shelter protection and tents in particular are desperately needed.

The most urgent needs for IOM are tents, jerry cans, aquatabs, kitchen and hygiene kits, mosquito nets, plastic sheeting, water bladders, and tools, which should allow the quick establishment of temporary settlements where assistance will be provided to the displaced.

Yesterday, an overflight of the city took place to help the government identify preferred temporary settlement sites. A joint IOM-WFP assessment will be carried out later today by car.

IOM will be leading the coordination of emergency shelter and non-food items amongst humanitarian actors and is asking for around US$30 million for its operations as part of the UN's Flash Appeal due to be issued shortly. With the true scale of the disaster still unknown, this figure is likely to change in the coming weeks.

With estimates of deaths reported in the tens of thousands, IOM's Chief of Mission in Haiti Vincent Houver said the government has mobilized heavy equipment and machinery to remove bodies lying on the streets that continue to multiply as people extract more dead and injured from the rubble.

He also identified access to fuel as an issue as was the lack of electricity over concerns that fallen wires could cause more hazard and fire.

IOM staff at Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic report that although the situation is calm, there is growing traffic.

"The Haitian Immigration supervisor at the Jimaní border post told us that he has seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of Haitians trying to cross the border. He also noted an increased number of people gathering around the Jimaní hospital, mainly family members who brought in the wounded," said Stephanie Daviot, of the IOM Mission in the Dominican Republic.

Daviot added that reports from the Dajabón border crossing indicate that all is quiet. "The supervisor in Dajabón said there are no Haitians trying to flee their country. I received the same information from the Pedernales border crossing in the south."

A similar influx of people has been witnessed in the northern Haitian cities of St Marc, Gonaives and Cap Haitien, which were much less affected by the earthquake.

IOM has been working in Haiti since 1994. On-going programmes and projects cover activities such as humanitarian and emergency response, rule of law, early recovery, security sector reform and post-crisis community stabilization.

IOM Haiti is part of the UN Country Team and works closely with UN partners on emergency response and early recovery.

For more information, please contact Jean Philippe Chauzy, IOM Geneva, Tel: + 41 22 717 9361/+41 79 285 4366, Email: pchauzy@iom.int, Jemini Pandya, IOM Geneva, Tel: +41 22 717 94 86/ +41 79 2173374, Jpandya@iom.int or Niurka Piñeiro at IOM Washington, Tel: +1 202 862 1826 ext 225 or email: npineiro@iom.int