Following information on the current situation in Haiti and the planned emergency relief actions was provided by the Regional Office in Costa Rica today:
Myriam Rodríguez, director of SOS Children's Villages in The Dominican Republic, flew to Haiti on a private helicopter on 14 January.
The objectives of the trip were:
1. Contacting the personnel of SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti in general and Celigny Darius, the national director in particular.
2. Making an evaluation of the overall situation, the state of the children and SOS families, co-workers and the families which are participants in the Family Strengthening Programme.
3. Establishing a more stable communication base through mobile phones until satellite communication would be possible in the following days.
4. Evaluating the general state of the population and the children in particular. Contacting and confirming cooperation opportunities with other organisations was also among the goals of the trip.The results of the trip were:
1. The Haitian Government did not allow the landing at SOS Children’s Village Santo. It was only possible to fly over the village and surrounding areas. Therefore, making contact with the co-workers and evaluating the situation of the population was impossible. Pictures from air of the village and the disaster area were taken.
2. The cell phone usage alternative failed, even though the provider company assured that it would work. As a result we are still unable to communicate with Haiti via mobile phones. We are forced to wait for the arrival of the satellite phone from Peru, which will be received in Haiti during the following weekend or early next week brought by the team from SOS Children's Villages Peru.
3. We did not manage to contact the other NGOs that are working in Haiti. However, we were successful at confirming that there was no link or coordination among the organisations which are providing support during this emergency or with the government of Haiti.
4. The general population is becoming increasingly desperate due to the lack of food, clean water supplies. We have had reports of various riot and other violent incidents. This has led us to understand the need for armed protection when distributing basic food and other relief goods.
5. We know that in the SOS Children Village Santo only the perimeter wall was damaged and thankfully all the other buildings are still standing and appear to be in a good shape. It is important to note that our facilities in Santo are well positioned and we may as well be the only organisation located so close to the epicentre with its buildings still operational after the earthquake. Moreover, the SOS Children’s Village Santo is close to the airport and has access to functioning roads. The above mentioned advantages can be very relevant when coordination aspects are analysed as well as possible cooperation with other organisations in the country.
Delivery of material and access of staff to Haiti:
1. Staff of the Regional Office Costa Rica will be responsible for the emergency project in Haiti. Johann Denk has the overall responsibility. He is expected to arrive in Haiti today. Also, eight staff members of SOS Children’s Villages in The Dominican Republic will be leaving for Haiti along with the first convoy of materials. The SOS Children’s Villages team from Peru (former members of the team who managed the earthquake emergency programme in Peru in 2007) will be travelling to the Dominican Republic on 18 January.
2. Within the SOS Children’s Villages in the Dominican Republic, providers for the purchase of materials are being searched for. The first shipment will leave for Haiti on Saturday, 16 January.
3. SOS Children’s Villages in Panama is working on identifying providers for the purchase of items which are too expensive to buy in the Dominican Republic such as tents and blankets. We hope to be able to send these items via COPA Airlines as they are offering a reduced cargo price for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Haiti.
4. We are contacting French speaking professionals in the area of psychology and social work who would be available and willing to donate their time to help the emergency relief project in Haiti (promotion is being posted in Costa Rica and The Dominican Republic).
Contact with other organisations:
1. SOS Children’s Villages has contacted the regional directors of the main organisations for children that operate in Latin America, integrated in the Global Movement for Children. Thus, we will have a meeting with these organisations today in order to share information and start a joint coordination of various actions.
2. The director of DIAKONIE, organisation specialised in emergency support (www.diakonie-katastrophenhilfe.de) is being contacted to talk about the possibility of their help with the coordination of relief efforts.
3. The director of SOS Children’s Villages in the Dominican Republic will contact the government of the Dominican Republic and offer an available space within the facilities of the SOS Children’s Village Santo to install a mobile clinic. It may be the solution to the medical emergency in the area.
Areas of Intervention:
The detailed design of the emergency relief project will take place once the SOS teams are in Haiti. In general our actions will be focused as follows:
1. Insure a stable condition of the SOS families and co-workers as well as the SOS Children’s Village Santo and the National Office in Haiti.
2. Support for the biological families of the children cared for in Santo and support of families participating in the family strengthening programme.
3. Provide a transitional refuge within the SOS Children’s Villages in Haiti, specifically in the SOS school, for children who are located in the disaster area and have no parental care or no resources to secure their survival.