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Aid Agencies Increase Efforts for Haiti Earthquake Survivors Before Rains Arrive

  • Lisa Schlein

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says it is increasing its efforts to get emergency relief and shelter to hundreds of thousands of Haitian earthquake survivors before the rains hit their peak in mid-May. The Red Cross says three months after the earthquake struck, relief operations are in full swing.

This is one of the biggest and most complex operations in the 150-year history of the International Red Cross Federation. The Red Cross says it has raised over $700 million from more than 50 of its national societies for earthquake relief, recovery and reconstruction in Haiti.

And, this money is being put to good use. Red Cross spokesman, Paul Conneally, says aid workers have delivered more services in a short time than ever before. "The result of this is that although the situation in the streets of Port-au-Prince is truly horrific, the fact is that many displaced people are now receiving more regular and reliable clean water, food and access to health care than before the earthquake. And, while their situation is still desperate, it is a significant improvement compared to the early days after the disaster," he said.

About 60 agencies are working to provide emergency shelter to the homeless. The Red Cross Federation is coordinating this operation. The original goal was to provide shelter for 1.3 million people before the rains started.

But, Red Cross Communications Coordinator, Alex Wynter, says that figure just recently has been increased to 1.5 million people. So far, he says 80 percent of that goal has been met. "But, we are confident that there is enough shelter relief materials, tents and tarpaulins and toolkits in the pipeline for the shelter cluster group of agencies to approach 100 percent of the new figure of 1.5 million by the first of May," he said.

Wynter says Haiti still faces a grave humanitarian crisis on top of and distinct from the earthquake because of the rainy season. He says mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, increasing the risk of malaria and dengue fever.

He says it is absolutely crucial to distribute mosquito nets to protect people from getting ill.