Relief Efforts are Only Beginning

“Poverty is at the root of this catastrophe.”

“Thousands of patients with major fractures, major wounds, that have not been treated yet.”

“Time for a UN Crisis Corps.”
…These words taken from headlines ranging from The New York Times to Reuters are alerting the international community just how difficult the task of restoring Haiti is. Soon after many troops landed into Haiti to provide humanitarian relief, an alarmingly strong aftershock,that was reportedly 5.9 on the Richter scale, struck 35 miles from the capital yesterday (Wednesday, January 20), just after 6 a.m. While there was minimal injuries and devastation from this aftershock, many civilians were forced to return to images of the terrible night when the original earthquake hit last week. Seismologists are even concluding that more aftershocks will arrive shortly. Since the earthquake last week, Haiti has already experienced nearly 50 aftershocks.

Rene Preval was scheduled to address the nation via radio yesterday afternoon, but due to the tumultuous aftershocks, his words to Haiti continue to be prolonged.

More detailed information is finally obtained. Brazil, who has led a peacekeeping mission through the UN since 2004, lost 18 soldiers this past week, its largest loss of soldiers since World War II. More than 11,000 American troops are now present in Haiti, but relief efforts are still a struggle even for these large forces and superpowers. According to the Economist, “The main arteries in Port-au-Prince are blocked by rubble.” The first step is getting the aid to those who are in need. International Action is fighting the same battle as these institutions and countries. Even through the difficulties, we are working to reach impoverished neighborhoods and provide sanitary water to all. Because of the aftershocks, even more debris has been tossed around,  making it more difficult to locate clean, safe water nearby.

As of yesterday, Dalebrun had obtained 2 truckers. Today, there were 10 truckers made available (We hope for 14 tomorrow). Dalebrun has continued to make trips, serving nearly 35,000-40,000 Haitians with one gallon of water or less per person. Other water areas, such as MAC, are providing minimal water even with plastic bags.

The Haitians are grateful for the water, but also remain agitated. The dilapidated jail has allowed for many criminals to escape making it difficult to maintain order.  Additionally, Dalebrun has found it imperative to acquire staff for protection purposes. Although he is still negotiating the salary, he said he might spend $1,600-$1,700 on the new staff. We went through the list of water tanks and he told us which ones are broken but function, which ones are totally broken, and which ones are undamaged.
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Update from Haitian Staff

Our Haitian director, Dalebrun Esther, is busy distributing water to as many neighborhoods as possible. Dalebrun says that CAMEP officials would be willing to assist in his effort to distribute water to the population, along with truckers from privatized companies. He knows of two water sources that are working and has identified 28 public water tanks that are in good enough shape to hold water. He has hired additional workers and is tirelessly working to get water to as many people as possible.

International Action continues to work and share information with other agencies, including Southcom, USAID, PAHO, Clinton Foundation, Partners in Health, and the Red Cross. We have sent many agencies GPS coordinates of all the public water stations.

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Death Toll and Effects of Earthquake Still Unknown

As millions of people continue to tune into the news each night for any update on the Haiti disaster, many questions are still unanswered. Already, 5,000 U.S. troops are present within the region, with thousands more are expected to arrive soon. The U.S. took precautionary steps to assure Haitians that presence within the area would not reflect their invasive actions of 1915. Humanitarian relief is coming from all directions and from all different countries. As U.S. troops make their way into the country, signs are seen that read, “Dead bodies inside” and “Welcome the U.S. Marines.” The President of Haiti, René Préval, is reportedly addressing the nation on Wednesday by radio.

United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, addresses violence in Port-au-Prince and a need for food, shelter, and sanitary water. Many impromptu businesses have developed since the earthquake, and have begun to increase their prices dramatically. One woman was charging $1 (30 gourdes) for a piece of fried chicken, which is normally half a day’s wages for Haitians.

Former President Bill Clinton arrived in Haiti on Monday to tour the hospitals and witness the destruction for himself. Many procedures have been carried out in the dark and many patients flood the hallways. Soon after, he met with René Préval to discuss the aftershock of the earthquake and possible strategies to get humanitarian relief efforts on track.

During these desperate times, International Action has collaborated with other officials to support this worldwide effort. Arch Chemicals,  a chlorine and biocides manufacturer, has been working with IA to transfer water purification supplies to desperate areas.

Your help and generosity is greatly appreciated. We will continue to post updates and hope to hear from anyone with questions, concerns, or advice.

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