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Friday 9 December 2016

Millions pledged but aid efforts blocked

Published 16/01/2010 | 05:00

THE chief executive of Goal last night voiced the frustration of the international aid community as they struggled to get help and supplies into Haiti.

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The organisation had earlier made an urgent appeal for doctors and nurses to join their team, but John O'Shea confirmed that there were huge problems in getting to Port-au-Prince.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been pledged by over 30 countries to help the impoverished nation, but the single airport runway was closed for a time yesterday and planes were turned back at various times throughout the day.

"You can have all the money in the world, but how are you going to put that money to work unless access and security has been sorted out," he asked.

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"We have a fairly formidable and substantial team ready to join Darren Hanniffy, who is on the ground, and we're not able to get them in. Lots of organisations are the same. Planes are being turned back."

Mr O'Shea said that he had been in contact with Mr Hanniffy, a civil engineer, who got into Haiti on Thursday. But the logjam at the airport, and in getting water and food to the hundreds of thousands of homeless people, was increasingly desperate.

"I feel an injection of urgency should be brought into this situation," he said. "From what I hear from Darren on the ground, they're piling dead bodies up to draw attention to their anger."

Goal has also expressed concern about the security situation in Port-au-Prince, as donations poured in but those most in need continued to suffer.

Unicef Ireland said that it has received over €200,000 from the public for its Haitian appeal, while its ambassador, rugby star Donncha O'Callaghan, made another appeal for donations.

His call came as professional rugby players pledged €20,000 to the relief fund, and as the Irish Red Cross said it was sending another €100,000 in emergency aid to Haiti after a surge of donations. It sent €25,000 on Thursday.

Concern's emergency response team were expected in the capital late last night to supplement the existing team.

The house-building charity Haven said that three of its members expected to travel to the country over the weekend.

President Mary McAleese said that the Irish people had a strong record of responding quickly to humanitarian disasters and would "not be remiss on this occasion either".

Meanwhile Lord Mayor of Dublin Emer Costello yesterday launched an appeal on behalf of Trocaire, Concern, Goal and the Irish Red Cross.

She said collection points for donations have been established at Dublin's Mansion House, the Civic Offices, and City Hall.

Irish Independent

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