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More Quake Victims in Haiti Getting Shelter

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports more than half of Haiti's 1.3 million earthquake survivors have now been provided with shelter.  The Red Cross says it expects most of the victims will have some form of shelter by May 1 to protect them during the upcoming rainy season.

The International Red Cross Federation says more than 60,000 families or 300,000 earthquake survivors now have some form of emergency shelter materials.  By May 1, the Red Cross says it expects more than 90 percent of the homeless will have received tents, tarpaulins or some other form of shelter to protect them from the rain.

A Red Cross operations coordinator, Pablo Medina, calls this an outstanding achievement.

"It is an enormous challenge to provide shelter materials to 1.3 million people," Medina said.  "And considering that during the first three weeks of the earthquake, the attention was focused on the search and rescue and that the delivery of emergency shelter assistance only started about the third, fourth week after the disaster, then more than 110,000 people have been reached every week with some form of emergency shelter assistance."  

The rainy season in Haiti runs between May and July.  It is immediately followed by the hurricane season, which lasts until October.  

Medina says the Red Cross is now moving toward providing transitional shelter, of a more durable and resilient sort, to help people survive the rains and gusty hurricane winds.  

"We are also working on hurricane shelter solutions …  Common hurricane shelters where people could seek refuge if a hurricane is going to hit," added Medina.  "I do not think it will be possible to provide hurricane-resistant solutions to all the population affected or in need by the time the hurricane season starts.  But, we can provide common shelters where people can take refuge if and when a hurricane is to strike.  We are looking at different solutions for this, hopefully constructions that can be put up and down easily and can be moved or taken in a warehouse when the hurricane season ends."  

Medina says the relief phase of most emergency operations normally lasts between three and six months.  But, he says the relief phase of the Haitian operation is expected to go on for at least one year, given the complexity and enormity of the disaster.

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