Haiti Situation Unique, Stress Relief Participants

February 19, 2010 3:19 p.m. EST

Topics: disaster and accident, relief and aid organization, United States

Tejinder Singh – AHN Correspondent

Washington, DC, United States (AHN) – The unique nature of the situation posed by the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti was highlighted by representatives from major relief organizations, the U.S. State Department and journalists with first-hand experience in post-earthquake Haiti in an hour-long presentation at the National Press Club on Thursday..

Nan Buzard of the American Red Cross emphasized the tremendous gap between the difficulty of the operation on the ground and the strong desire of the world for things to immediately improve in Haiti.

She spoke about the need to look beyond the statistics of the relief operation, commenting on the unprecedented nature of this situation. “We have all said this is off the charts,” she said. “This is much harder than the tsunami, which is remarkable.”

She also emphasized the importance of the Haitian people’s involvement in the recovery.

Other panelists included Gordon Duguid of the U.S. Department of State, Niurka Pineiro of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Jennifer Parmelee of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and Jaspreet Singh of the United Sikhs, a U.N. affiliated organization.

Duguid, on behalf of the Obama Administration, denied any knowledge of a request from the Haitian government for a “prison ship” to house convicts. “I am not sure if we have a facility like a floating prison ship,” he told the audience in reply to a question.

He noted that the goal of the U.S. government is to restore “self-sufficiency for Haiti in the aftermath of this disaster,” with as much help as possible from the mainland.

Pineiro welcomed the tireless efforts of other agencies including local organizations and U.N. personnel on the ground, saying the IOM is working out of makeshift offices as its offices were razed by the earthquake.

Parmelee, from the WFP, stressed the need to provide shelter and help at the usual habitat of the residents so they could continue generating a livelihood in familiar environs in future.

Singh, of United Sikhs, reiterated the needs of the Haitian people and efforts by organizations to meet that.

He noted two points being addressed by United Sikhs, saying, “we are the only NGO [non-governmental organization] providing hot food within days of the earthquake, with the only other hot food initially being provided by a camp set up by the government of the Dominican Republic.”

Singh said the other point is “the need for legal assistance-there are many cases of children orphaned from families who have relatives here in the United States who are citizens willing to adopt; cases where parents are killed and grandparents wish to adopt grandchildren.”

He added that the United Sikhs’ legal team is involved in assisting these families at a Haitian family support center in conjunction with the Red Cross.

Read more: http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7017872107#ixzz0g9Btq3jC


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