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Shelter provision must speed up Red Cross warns two years on from Haiti quake

10 January 2012
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Housing repairs and reconstruction in Haiti must speed up, the Red Cross is warning two years on from the most devastating earthquake in the country’s history, as hundreds of thousands of people remain living in camps.

Striking on January 12 2010, the quake killed more than 200,000 people and left 1.5million more homeless

Although progress on recovery has increased over the last year, hundreds of thousands of people are yet to be rehoused.

“Progress has accelerated in the last twelve months, while that is encouraging it is important that issues around availability of land and appropriate housing stock is addressed to maintain momentum,” said Alastair Burnett, British Red Cross recovery manager.

“Around 500,000 people have actually left the camps and moved to improved living conditions, which is very positive.

“The problem Haiti faces now is that demand for shelter is outstripping supply –at the moment there aren’t enough appropriate places for the people moving out of the camps to live in.”

Over the last year, a total of more than 100,000 families have been able to access improved shelter, with the Red Cross alone reaching around a quarter of these.

Large scale camp decongestion programmes in Port au Prince have helped families to leave camps, with the Red Cross and others working with displaced communities to identify the best options for people and enabling a return to some semblance of normal life.

“There simply aren’t enough rental properties available and our programmes will slow down in the coming months unless more is done,” said Eduard Tschan, head of delegation for the International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent in Haiti.

“The Red Cross is increasing its shelter commitments to reach 37,000 families, with a particular focus on rental support and housing repairs and we urge others to do the same.”

The British Red Cross still has a large presence in the country dealing not only the aftermath of the earthquake, but also the underlying poverty and vulnerability which existed even before January 12 2010.

As well as providing grants to enable people to access rental accommodation and rebuild their livelihoods, British Red Cross teams have trained masons, educated local people on how to create safer homes, and installed hundreds of showers and toilets.

“Our teams are not simply trying to provide improved shelter for families, but also trying to improve the broader community living environment where we are working - so looking at how issues such as waste management, drainage and lighting for example can be addressed to improve people's quality of life,” added Alastair Burnett.


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Notes to editors

UK contacts

• Alastair Burnett, British Red Cross recovery manager
• John English, British Red Cross recovery manager
• (contact  via Mark South 020 7877 7044

Haiti contacts

• In Haiti - Becky Webb, communications coordinator, Haiti, IFRC
Mobile : +509 349 19813 E-mail :

On Tuesday 12 January 2010, an earthquake measuring 7 on the Richter scale struck Haiti. Its impact was devastating. 1.5 million people were left homeless, 200,000 people were injured, and around 220,000 people are thought to have died. Huge swathes of the capital, Port-au-Prince, were reduced to rubble. Leogane, the site of the epicentre, suffered 80-90% destruction. Hospitals, schools and 27 out of 28 Haitian government buildings were also destroyed.

The disaster prompted the biggest single country response in the history of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. Immediately after the earthquake, the Haitian Red Cross distributed emergency aid and set up first aid posts, despite having lost members and suffered damage themselves. The emergency response concentrated on providing basic aid items, healthcare, sanitation, food, safe water and shelter materials, as well as psychological support.

Haiti earthquake in numbers

> The earthquake of 2010 left 1.5million homeless, 200,000 injured and around 220,000 dead
> Some areas experienced 70-90% destruction. 27 out of 28 Haitian Government buildings were destroyed
> The British Red Cross Haiti earthquake appeal raised £17.5m
> Globally, the Red Cross Red Crescent raised £811m
> Over 600 Red Cross and Red Crescent workers from at least 30 countries were deployed
> 21 specialist emergency response units (ERUs) were deployed from around the world immediately after the disaster
> 124 Red Cross Red Crescent national societies have supported the Haiti operation with money or expertise
> 1.13 million people received basic aid items from Red Cross Red Crescent Movement
> 68,953 households (covering approx 344,000 people) have received livelihoods support grants or loans
> 317,480 people provided with daily access to drinking water at peak of emergency operation
> 230,000 patients treated in Red Cross Red Crescent healthcare facilities
> 37 cholera treatment centres set up in response to cholera outbreak of Oct 2010
> 1.2 million people reached with SMS/text messages, giving info on cholera, malaria, inoculations, and other help
> £4.7m has also been invested in disaster preparedness and risk reduction, to prepare for future emergencies

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.