Saturday 18 November 2017

Goal hopes to finally start distributing vital supplies

Jason O'Brien and Barry Duggan

IRISH aid group Goal hopes to finally start distributing food and water on the streets of Haiti today -- more than a week after the earthquake struck.

CEO John O'Shea said yesterday that the security of its workers remained the major obstacle in getting the supplies from its warehouse onto the streets of Port-au-Prince.

Irish people have donated more than €1m to Goal alone in the past seven days, and Mr O'Shea has admitted that the frustration was continuing to rise at ground-level. "The earthquake was a massive natural disaster but the response of the international community has, to date, been a massive man-made disaster and there is no excuse for that," he said. "Access and security remain the twin obstacles to the delivery of an appropriate relief response to this unprecedented tragedy. And until the campaign is led by one entity, one leader, it will continue to founder."

While medicine, food and water were the obvious priorities, Trocaire said more needed to be done to ensure the safety and security of the most vulnerable.

"The international humanitarian response must include measures to protect the most vulnerable among Haiti's survivors from abuse, violence and exploitation," director Justin Kilcullen said.

To date, Trocaire has received over €600,000 from the Irish public.


Among the aid workers who have returned to Port-au-Prince is Sarah Finucane, a niece of Frs Jack and Aengus Finucane, who helped establish Concern 40 years ago.

"Yesterday, we were down town at some of the camps where we are doing the distributions and there are just hundreds upon hundreds of people living in these makeshift tents," Ms Finucane (28), from Limerick, said. "There are bodies still on the ground. There is a smell of decomposing bodies in the city -- it is bad. There are still rescue teams trying to salvage people from the rubble."

"I think it is a very difficult time in Haiti... it has been very difficult for many reasons to get aid out and initially people were patient, but they are desperate now with no water, no food and having lost everything except the clothes on their back."

Meanwhile, the various aid groups said that donations were continuing to flow in from the Irish people, with charity house-building group Haven having received more than €150,000 to date.

Oxfam Ireland has raised over €220,000 for its emergency appeal, and Plan Ireland said an aid shipment containing 4,000 tents and more than 300 family survival kits docked in Haiti yesterday.

It has also been confirmed that a bucket collection will be held at Thomond Park on Friday night for Munster's huge game against Northampton.

And a major auction of Irish art is being planned to raise funds by Boyle Arts Festival Chairman, Fergus Ahern, in association with John de Vere White of de Vere Art Auctions in Dublin.

Donations to the Irish Red Cross Haiti Appeal have reached over €650,000 to date.

Irish Independent

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