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Haiti Earthquake: One Week Later, Aid Agencies Facing Challenges

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One week later, international aid agency Oxfam is working to overcome the challenges of delivering aid in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.


Although aid is beginning to get through, the impact of the earthquake on Oxfam's Haitian and international staff, the logistical challenges combined with a destroyed office and warehouse and the loss of communications have made this the one of the hardest responses the agency has ever mounted. Part of the Oxfam office and a key warehouse full of more than $120,000 worth of vital water and sanitation equipment were destroyed when the quake struck.

Oxfam Country Director in Haiti Yolette Etienne said: "Many of my staff here have lost their homes, and some have had family losses. Two Oxfam members of staff were killed when the quake struck and I lost my own mother.  But we are still here working. I told my staff that we have no choice, no other option but to work and to work harder since we have the privilege of still being here and we can help people to overcome their desperation. A day after the quake most of the staff were back at the office planning our response."

Communications are beginning to improve and new equipment for providing clean water and sanitation is now arriving. Oxfam is using Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic as a hub for supplies, which travel by road to Port-au-Prince. So far, Oxfam has distributed water to about 19 sites using water bladders – flexible tanks, filled by water trucks, that can hold up to 10,000 liters of fresh water for local people.

The fuel situation countrywide is becoming more and more critical, which has led to fuel restrictions. Unfortunately, Oxfam had to suspend water distribution operations for hours on Monday due to a lack of fuel, but operations began again on Tuesday to three sites – two in Petionville and one in Carrefour (the worst hit area in the city).

Ten tons of new stock was flown from the United Kingdom to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on Saturday and has now arrived in Port-au-Prince. Thirty tons of stock will depart from the UK today and will be followed by a further flight, carrying 50 tons of Oxfam aid on Friday.  

"Every day, the recovery needs become even more urgent. We are working to overcome obstacles and challenges in order to deliver aid where it is needed most. There is obviously much more work to be done to recover from this disaster. Oxfam is committed to being in Haiti to help recover now and rebuild for the long haul," said Michael Delaney, director of humanitarian response at Oxfam America. 

SOURCE Oxfam America

SOURCE Oxfam America
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