January 22 2010

SOS Children's Villages' relief programmes in Haiti to reach up to 40,000 people

22/01/2010 - After careful assessment of the situation on the ground and available resources, SOS Children's Villages' relief teams have developed a plan for the weeks months to come. It includes several forms of support adapted to a range of different needs, from immediate supplies of what is needed most all the way to long-term care for children who have lost their families.

Thousands of people need help urgently - REUTERS/Hans Deryk - courtesy www.alertnet.org
Thousands of people need help urgently - REUTERS/Hans Deryk - courtesy www.alertnet.org

It has been more than a week since an earthquake of devastating force hit Haiti, and thousands of destitute people are still roaming the streets in search of food, water, medical supplies and, in many cases, their loved ones. The range of individual needs is almost as wide as the numbers of people affected by the disaster are great. This chaotic situation calls for a well-structured response, and SOS Children's Villages' international team of experienced relief coordinators has set up a plan that will respond to the different needs of the population and has the capacity to reach 25,700 children and their families, some 40,000 people in total.

SOS Children's Villages has a special responsibility towards the most vulnerable victims of this disaster: children who have lost their families to the earthquake or have not been able to find them since. Their swift identification, registration and admission to temporary or possibly long-term care in SOS facilities is a top priority and requires the unbureaucratic exchange of data between relief organisations on the ground. As one of the very few organisations with still operational facilities inside the zone of destruction, SOS Children's Villages Haiti has the capacity to take in up to 500 unaccompanied children, either until they can be reunited with their families or until an alternative long-term solution can be found.

SOS Children's Villages will create a safe place for up to 500 children - Photo: SOS Archives
SOS Children's Villages will create a safe place for up to 500 children - Photo: SOS Archives

In the communities around Santo, SOS Children's Villages had been running several social programmes to support familes through a total of 16 SOS community centres when the earthquake hit. Six of these have been reopened, and more are expected to reopen in the days and weeks to come. Using these centres as outposts, SOS Children's Villages is already providing 1,000 children and their families with what they need most, i.e. food, water, medical supplies and even building materials for the reconstruction of their homes. Once more centres have been opened, they will be able to supply up to 7,000 children and adults with basic necessities.

Amid all these efforts to ensure that the children and families that were already being supported by SOS Children's Villages previously to the earthquake are provided for, SOS relief teams also gave immediate support to the general population. They will extend this support to areas where SOS Children's Villages has not been active so far. Provisions of food and other basic supplies in this time of crisis can directly reach up to 32,000 children and adults.

Naturally, SOS Children's Villages will also ensure that the 200 children in the SOS families are safe and have all the care and support they need, as well as providing temporary shelter and support to the SOS co-workers and their families whose homes were flattened by the earthquake, some 225 people all in all.

Today the third shipment of emergency relief goods arrived in the SOS Children's Village in Santo. It consists of food packages that can each provide up to 120 people with sufficient food to last a week, hygiene kits and medical supplies.