THE Irish Government is to send 85 tonnes of emergency aid to Haiti as part of the international aid effort. Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power said it was essential the supplies reach the people of Haiti "as quickly as possible".
“They are being drawn from Ireland’s pre-positioned stockpiles and are expected to arrive in Haiti in the coming days. “The fact that we can respond so quickly is evidence of the lessons we learned as a result of our engagement with the Asian tsunami in 2004,” Mr Power said.
The Irish Government is working closely with Concern and Goal for distribution of supplies to 8,000 families. The consignment includes mosquito nets, essential plastic sheeting for shelter and water tanks.
Trocaire has launched an appeal and is responding through local partners providing tents, emergency kits, food, clean water and sanitation. It has raised over €120,000 so far and committed an additional €200,000.
Goal has set up a warehouse in the centre of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and has also set up a depot in the Dominican Republic.
However, the main course of action is to get in as many experienced Goal workers who have worked in famine-related areas and war-torn places around the globe.
“We hope all will be there in the next 48 hours but they are only arriving in dribs and drabs as the airport has been shut down and it is a common thing for a plane to be sent back, “ said Goal CEO John O’Shea.
“However, it is imperative to get in as many experienced hands-on people on the ground as possible. Before any of this can be done, however, law and order must be restored and maintained in the Haitian capital. “All the aid plans in the world won’t take place unless law and order is in place and this is not the case at the moment, with 4,000 prisoners out on the loose.
“The United Nations are to deploy 5,000 policemen on the streets of Port-au-Prince which we welcome, it is the most sensible idea hatched by the international community since the disaster struck.”
Three members of Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps will deploy to Haiti over the coming days, while other members remain on standby. In addition, a small Irish Aid technical mission will travel to Haiti to assess the immediate needs of the people and identify short-term gaps in the overall response. They will be accompanied by a defence forces engineer who is a UN-trained expert.