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Red Cross Appeals For $100 Million For Haiti

  • Lisa Schlein

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for $100 million for Haiti. The appeal covers emergency relief and long-term recovery assistance for 300,000 people over the next three years.

The International Red Cross Federation says its most immediate concern is to get lifesaving emergency aid to hundreds of thousands of survivors of Haiti's catastrophic earthquake.

But Red Cross spokesman, Matthew Cochrane, tells VOA, the needs of people go beyond the immediate emergency response and that is what its $100 million appeal is meant to address.

"Lives have been absolutely destroyed. Houses have been destroyed. Community infrastructure has been absolutely destroyed and we are very much committed to being involved in the rebuilding of Haiti once the relief operation winds down in six to nine months," he said.

Cochrane says the Red Cross is making progress in getting together all the elements needed to scale up its humanitarian operation. In the past couple of days, he says two planes carrying 22 tons of aid landed in the Haitian capital, Port au Prince.

He says a convoy of aid supplies, including a 50-bed field hospital, and disaster experts arrived overland from the Dominican Republic.

He says the earthquake victims are in desperate need of food, water, medical assistance and shelter. In the coming weeks, he says the Red Cross will concentrate much of its effort on providing clean water. He says this is crucial to reduce the risk of waterborne and water-related diseases.

"Dysentery, diarrheal diseases. These were threats that were probably with the Haitians even before the earthquake," he said. "Now that this damage, that last bit of infrastructure, that last bit of social support, there are huge concerns that we will see outbreaks of entirely treatable and preventable, but nevertheless, very deadly illnesses. And, so that has to be a focus," he said.

Up to now, international aid operations have been centered on the capital, Port-au-Prince. But, little attention has been given to the outlying areas because of the difficulty of reaching them.

Cochrane says the Red Cross has some preliminary assessments of the severity of the damage caused by the earthquake in three places. He says aid workers report between 80-90 percent of the town of Leogane has been destroyed.

In Gressier, up to 50 percent of the town has been destroyed and in Carrefour, he says there are reports of people still being trapped in collapsed buildings.