Canadian Red Cross unveils Haiti shelter prototype, and discusses
reconstruction challenges at Shelter Conference in Halifax

HALIFAX, June 3 /CNW/ - At the Annual Red Cross Disaster Conference in Halifax, the Canadian Red Cross unveiled a replica of the hurricane and earthquake resistant shelters that will be built in and around Jacmel and Leogane and shared the many challenges impacting their ability to build.

"Canadians can be very proud of the shelters we are building in Haiti," said Jean-Philippe Tizi, director of Haiti operations at the Canadian Red Cross. "The innovative, portable design is earthquake-resistant and will withstand winds up to 240 km/h."

Despite the positive response to the shelter's design, Tizi reminded conference participants, which included disaster response experts from around the world, that there remain considerable obstacles ahead.

"One of the greatest challenges facing our team right now is the lack of land," said Tizi. "Rubble and makeshift camps fill much of the viable land on which to build, and many people left homeless by the earthquake do not own any land."

The earthquake created approximately 19 million cubic meters of debris that must be removed. That's enough rubble to fill the Rogers Centre (home of the Blue Jays) nearly 12 times. Rubble removal has begun, but will take considerable time to complete. For example, in New York City, it took the best teams in the world two years to clear the debris from the World Trade Centre.

"Although we are anxious to rebuild, we must remember that this is a massive endeavour and that it will take time," says Tizi. "Rubble must be cleared and we must identify landowners to gain permissions in order to build."

Land ownership issues in Haiti are complex and take considerable time to resolve, which is why the Canadian Red Cross has invested in flexible structures that can be adapted to meet short and longer-term needs. For example, if families need to relocate due to land issues, they can disassemble their shelter and move it to a new location.

The Canadian Red Cross shelter program is a partnership with the Government of Canada and its generous donor matching program. The Canadian Red Cross is working alongside partner organizations to overcome the many challenges in Haiti and is pleased to support opportunities such as the Disaster Conference, where the international community can come together to share expertise, best practices and lessons learned.

The Canadian Red Cross is a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, which includes the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and more than 185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Our mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity in Canada and around the world.

SOURCE Canadian Red Cross

For further information: For further information: For photos, or to set up an interview please contact Katie Kallio, Public Affairs Advisor, Canadian Red Cross, (613) 290-7324

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