The strongest earthquake in Haiti in more than 200 years, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, rocked the impoverished Caribbean nation on 12 January. The death toll could be as high as 200,000 with over 3.7 million people in need.
Half a million children in Haiti need help. Hospitals, water supply, electricity, and local infrastructure are all critically affected. Homes, offices, and roads are destroyed.
Support has been flooding into Caritas offices from around the world. So far Caritas agencies have received $US 33 million (EUR 23. 5 million) in donations. Many supporters are holding collections this weekend.
Caritas Internationalis President Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga said, "Caritas aid is starting to reach the people in Haiti in large quantities. Caritas will be increasing the amounts of food, water, tents and medical help over the coming days. Our teams are doing wonderful work getting help to the most vulnerable.
"The support, prayers and messages of solidarity that Caritas has received for the people of Haiti from around the world is inspiring. It is a symbol of one common humanity sharing its efforts to overcome the terrible tragedy in Haiti. The Haitians will need even more solidarity over the coming months as they build a better future."
The appeal launched today will provide medical services and supplies, clean water and sanitation, emergency shelter, food, rubble removal and street cleaning, and family reunification over the next two months.
Caritas will work directly in 20 camps, but also distribute aid through its contacts with priests and religious working in 32 parishes with 150,000 people in need. The two month appeal will be followed by a longer 12 month reconstruction programme.
Caritas began aid distributions immediately after the earthquake and has carried large scale distributions of food, blankets, water purification tablets, and tents to over 20,000 people in Port-au-Prince, Jacmel and other towns.
In the badly damaged city of Léogâne, 11,000 blankets, water purification tablets, tents, and tarpaulins were given out yesterday to survivors.
Caritas has been providing medical support to St. Francois de Sale hospital and set up medical tents to provide surgical care elsewhere. A Caritas team of Search and Rescue staff has helped save people from collapsed buildings.
Contact Michelle Hough in Port-au-Prince 00393386921177 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For photos of the rescue and distribution contact Patrick Nicholson at Nicholson@caritas.va or 00393343590700