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Christian Aid launch emergency Haiti earthquake appeal

Christian Aid has launched an emergency appeal for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Thousands of people are already feared dead and many more are believed to be critically injured. Countless are thought to be homeless.

The quake, measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale, struck 15km southwest of the capital Port-au-Prince just before 5pm local time yesterday, and was shortly followed by two strong aftershocks of 5.9 and 5.5.

Launching the appeal, Margaret Boden, CEO of Christian Aid Ireland, said:

‘This latest disaster is going to cause untold suffering and hardship, particularly in communities with very little to fall back on. There is an urgent need for emergency supplies, including food, shelter and medicine.

‘In the longer term, rebuilding is going to require massive international assistance. I appeal to people to give what they can.’

She added, ‘My colleagues Adrian Horsman and Andrew Coleman visited Haiti in recent months with one of our supporters Louis Grubb, a well-known Co Tipperary dairy farmer and maker of Cashel Blue cheese.  They were all deeply concerned about the level of poverty there. It is one of the poorest places on earth.’

Adrian Horsman, Christian Aid’s Media Manager, said today: ‘The situation in Haiti is very, very serious due to the strength and shallowness of the earthquake and its proximity to the capital Port-au-Prince.

‘Most of the buildings and infrastructure in Haiti are very fragile.  Many people have been killed by falling debris and there are still many more trapped under the rubble, in desperate need of assistance.

‘Hundreds of offices, hotels, houses and shops have collapsed, the presidential palace lies in ruins, and many churches have also been completely destroyed.

‘The Christian Aid office itself has also collapsed and three people, including Christian Aid staff, had to be rescued from the rubble. Thankfully they are safe but communications to the country are very difficult since the city is without electricity and the telephone network has broken down.

‘The absolutely critical humanitarian needs now are obviously search and rescue, much of which is initially being carried out by local people and organisations, shelter, clean water and medical assistance.’

Christian Aid Ireland’s Cork-based South West Coordinator Andrew Coleman, who was also in Haiti, said the Christian Aid building was relatively robust but was still destroyed. Loss of life in poorer communities is expected to be very high.

‘One of the key issues in Haiti is the weak state and the lack of resources at the state’s disposal,’ he said.

‘There will be a national response, but it is unlikely to be sufficient.  There will be a huge need for a concerted response on behalf of the relatively large aid community in Haiti.’

Christian Aid partner organisations in Haiti, Veterimed and Koral, are very experienced in emergency response work, and will be working round the clock to meet the urgent humanitarian needs.

Those wishing to donate on on-line should go to www.christianaid.ie

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For interviews or more information, please contact Adrian Horsman [Belfast] 028 90 381 204 or Florence Mutesasira [Dublin] 086 160 9405.

Notes to Editors:

1) Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

2) Christian Aid has a vision – an end to poverty.  Our new drive, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to make that vision a reality.