12 February 2010
One month on from the devastating quake in Haiti which has affected millions, the British Red Cross races to bring relief to those in need as the rainy season begins.
More than 20 British Red Cross delegates are now in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Panama, helping deliver aid and provide shelter, sanitation and other vital services.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has more than 500 workers from 22 countries deployed to the Haiti relief effort, as well as hundreds of Haitian Red Cross volunteers across the country.
Sharon Reader is part of a Red Cross sanitation emergency response unit (ERU) in Haiti. She said: “One month on from the quake, the needs are still overwhelmingly real and urgent. We’re now in a race against time to prevent further damage from another potentially catastrophic problem: Haiti’s looming wet season.
“The rains normally hit the island in mid-February and last for three months. With hundreds of thousands still living in camps, the onset of rain may destroy the sanitation systems we’ve worked so hard to set up and would accelerate the spread of disease.
“This is a country still very much in crisis and we are going to have to continue to meet basic life-saving needs such as access to clean water and basic shelter for many, many more months to come.”
The British Red Cross sanitation ERU, equipped with a mini-digger and flat-pack latrines, is providing sanitation and hygiene promotion to 20,000 people in two camps. Meanwhile, the organisation has logistics experts based in the neighbouring Dominican Republic ensuring the flow of aid into the quake-stricken country does not let up.
Pete Garratt, disaster relief manager, said: “People’s support for Haiti has been absolutely phenomenal, and for that we are hugely grateful. The needs are here for all to see, it is a disaster on an unprecedented scale for a single country. To make matters worse, the rainy season has begun six weeks early and it’s going to take a concerted effort to prevent outbreaks of cholera, diarrhoea and malaria.
“As the relief operation continues we are also planning for long-term recovery, but reconstruction will be a slow process, needing time and money. We are here for the long haul and we need people’s generosity to continue so we can keep helping.”
Follow updates from the response teams on the British Red Cross international blog.
View our Haiti photo gallery.
More about the Haiti Earthquake Appeal
In the event that we raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help us prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters either overseas or here in the UK.