|Girls hold blankets at the Foye Zanmi Jezi orphanage in the Lilavois neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The blankets were part of a recent shipment that also equipped thousands of children in residential care centres with bedding, hygiene supplies, toiletries, clothing and footwear.|
By Roshan Khadivi
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 8 February 2010 – On a dusty, hot day here in the Haitian capital late last week, UNICEF’s new logistics hub was buzzing. Fifty people were loading trucks with hygiene kits for immediate dispatch to quake-stricken communities in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.
The workers themselves, who come from the local area, have all been directly affected by the disaster that struck Haiti on 12 January. “Yet they show up every day, eager to move the supplies as fast as possible to other Haitians in need,” said UNICEF Logistics Specialist Sebastien Laplanche.
UNICEF’s former warehouse in the capital was badly damaged in the quake. The new logistics hub in Port-au-Prince doubles as a warehouse and operations centre for the delivery of life-saving supplies amidst the children’s emergency in Haiti, where nearly 40 per cent of the population is under the age of 14.
|At the airport in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, UNICEF staff unload packages of essential items to be distributed to some 50,000 earthquake-affected children.|
The supply facility consists of three huge warehouse tents, each of which can hold 240 square metres of supplies. In the coming days, the number of tents will increase to 11.
The storage tents provide space for all supplies arriving by air or road from UNICEF regional emergency hubs in the Dominican Republic and Panama, as well as UNICEF’s central warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark, among other locations
“We have health kits, midwifery kits, micronutrient tablets, medical equipment, basic family water kits”, said UNICEF Warehouse Supervisor Christian Dehoux, pointing out supplies that have arrived in the country for distribution to primary health care centres and hospitals.
|Two girls help Markin Flavin, 6, put on a pair of plastic sandals that he received during a distribution of newly arrived supplies for children at the UNICEF-assisted Foye Zanmi Jezi orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.|
Safe water is vital
“The water kits are particularly important, as many children are living in poor hygiene conditions in makeshift camps,” said Mr. Dehoux, who arrived in Haiti from Copenhagen just four days after the earthquake. “They have survived the quake and we want to protect them from diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases, especially with the rainy season coming,” he added.
The country’s collapsed infrastructure has posed logistical problems for humanitarian organizations. UNICEF is working with non-governmental organizations, and public- and private-sector partners, to effectively deliver supplies and assistance to families in Port-au-Prince and the nearby cities of Carrefour, Leogane, Petit Goave and Jacmel.
One of the recently delivered supply shipments equipped more than 3,000 children in residential care centres in Port-au-Prince with hygiene supplies, toiletries, clothing, footwear, blankets and mats.
Staff from around the globe
In the four weeks since the earthquake struck, UNICEF has deployed experienced staff to Haiti from around the globe. They are working 24 hours a day with partners in an effort to reach every quake-affected child and family in need.
“Our operational objective,” said UNICEF Senior Operations Officer Thomas Haettenschwiller, “is to provide quality support, supplies and logistics to enable UNICEF and partners to get every child back to school, support primary health clinics, improve hygiene and ensure life-saving fresh water for those in need.”
Earthquake in Haiti