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05-07-2011 | Latest News , Americas

Floods and landslides highlight extreme vulnerability of thousands in Haiti

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Video 1 - Disaster Risk Reduction: Communications
Video 2 - Disaster Risk Reduction: Stocks
Video 3 - Disaster Risk Reduction: Vigilant
Video 4 - Disaster Risk Reduction: Hygiene


Red Cross ready to respond as hurricane season arrives


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) continue to target millions of vulnerable people with disaster preparedness activities as serious rains and landslides have hit Haiti, causing loss of life and devastation in some parts of the country.


Red Cross teams have been assessing the impact of the rains over recent days with Haitian Red Cross volunteers distributing blankets, aquatabs, water and hygiene kits to families affected in the Tomazezau area.


"As the tragic events of the last few days have shown us, even without a direct hit by a hurricane, landslides and significant volumes of rain and flooding pose a real threat to vulnerable communities" said Marcel Goyeneche, disaster preparedness coordinator, IFRC.


Nearly eighteen months after the 2010 earthquake, hundreds of thousands of people remain in camps and highly vulnerable to the spread of cholera and the impact of storms, flooding and landslides.


"The Red Cross Movement has helped to re-house over 50,000 people but Haiti still has a hugely vulnerable camp population who are about to face a second hurricane season under canvas" continued Goyeneche.


Red Cross teams are visiting families in camps to help them secure their shelters and to carry out further tarpaulin distributions where necessary. Crucially, large amounts of water also bring health threats. With cases of cholera in Haiti having recently risen, the continuous rainfall puts the population at even greater risk.


Further serious weather events are predicted in the upcoming months as meteorologists estimate the country could face between 6 and 10 hurricanes, including between 3 and 6 ‘major' ones. The 2011 outlook also includes up to 18 named storms.


Led by the Haitian Government's Civil Protection Department (DPC), work continues across the country to help people get ready for hurricanes and rain. Over the past year, Red Cross teams have been working with communities in camps and neighbourhoods to identify simple actions that can minimize the impact of storms or floods. Red Cross activities include emergency first aid courses, training in early warning systems, projects such as digging ditches and disaster preparedness training in camps.


In coordination with Haitian authorities and other humanitarian actors, the Red Cross has also been pre-positioning emergency supplies to reach up to 125,000 people in vulnerable regions across the country including St. Marc, Gonaives, Cap Haitien, Fort Liberté, Jacmel, Léogâne, les Cayes, Jeremie, Hinche and Port de Paex.


Recognizing the vital importance of information, the Haitian Red Cross and IFRC, have prioritized the use of media and telecommunication networks to sensitize communities about the imminent risk of rains and storms with radio programmes (Radio Croix Rouge Haitienne) and mass-SMS campaigns supporting more traditional preparedness efforts. Disaster preparedness awareness sessions are also being carried out in public places such as health centers, markets, churches, and in tap taps.


For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:


In Haiti:
Becky Webb, communications coordinator Tel: +509 3491 9813

 

The Federation, the national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. For further information on Federation activities, please see our web site: www.ifrc.org


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