First CAFOD aid reaches Haiti earthquake survivors

Less then 24 hours after the 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, CAFOD  has been able to quickly deliver aid to the survivors. In an email to CAFOD's Humanitarian team in London, CAFOD partner Caritas Haiti described their emergency response so far, but highlighted that people are still in urgent need of food, medical supplies and clean water.

On Wednesday (13th January) Caritas staff conducted a two hour visit to the devastated areas of the capital Port-au-Prince to determine what the immediate needs were. During that assessment tents, blankets and food were distributed to families. The team were also able to give basic first aid to survivors at clinics and hospitals.

Joseph Jonides Villarson, Head of Emergencies for Caritas Haiti, said:  "We are working night and day, but now we have no more supplies so we call on the solidarity of the network of dioceses to also send materials.

"The immediate needs include: temporary shelter, blankets, clothes, water and food first aid equipment, torches and batteries and trauma counselling."

Large numbers of injured are seen all over the capital. Many people are still buried in the rubble. People are being taken to hospital, but the medical teams can barely cope. Joseph Jonides Villarson said: "The hospitals are overwhelmed with the dead and injured. The risk of disease is great."

CAFOD partner Caritas Haiti described the streets and public spaces as full of people setting up makeshift camps as they do not know where to go. From time to time the area continues to feel aftershocks which adds to their distress and suffering.

Caritas Haiti President, Bishop Pierre Andre Dumas of Anse-a-Veau et Miragoane has appealed on radio Signal FM for calm and solidarity, as reports of some looting in the commercial areas of Port-au-Prince have been received as people desperately go in search of food.

In a statement, The Archbishop of Westminister, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, said: "The news from Haiti is so distressing...this will be a long-term aid and reconstruction effort. I urge people to find ways of giving practical expression, through aid charities and agencies."

CAFOD partners will continue to undertake assessments at community level, assessing the numbers of dead and injured, material losses and ensuring that emergency humanitarian aid reaches the most vulnerable in the worst affected areas.

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