Shelter reaches nearly a million people in Haiti in one of the fastest
shelter-relief operations of recent years

PORT-AU-PRINCE, March 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Three quarters of the 1.3 million homeless people in the Haitian quake zone have now received emergency-shelter materials (tarpaulins, tents and toolkits) ten weeks after the disaster that left much of the south of the country in ruins.

The number of people reached by what is now a total of more than 50 agencies distributing shelter-relief materials under a coordinated effort is 976,775 - just past the 75 per cent mark.

"Our progress has been encouraging - and as the survivors of this tragedy now face the threat of a severe rainy season, we are working with our international partners to help the people of Haiti prepare for this period," said Richard Clair, country representative in Haiti for the Canadian Red Cross.

"To cope with the worsening rains and provide the best possible support to those affected in Haiti, coordination is essential," says Clair. "All the agencies on the ground need to work closely together to meet our challenges head-on."

The so-called shelter cluster, which is coordinated by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), is on course to reach 100 per cent coverage by May 1 - the original target date and the start of the peak month of the Haitian rainy season.

Emergency-shelter distribution is just one part of the drive to help quake-affected people survive the looming rainy season. The Canadian Red Cross, as part of the wider disaster-response effort in Haiti, is also contributing in other ways:

    -   From Jan. 13-Mar. 18, 72 Canadian delegates will have been deployed
        to Haiti in the areas of health, water/sanitation, relief, shelter,
        assessment, human resources and communications.

    -   A Canadian Red Cross team has distributed non-food relief items,
        including tents, to more than 30,000 people (or 6,000 families) in
        Jacmel and surrounding communities.

    -   A joint Canadian/Norwegian mobile field hospital is providing
        essential surgical and medical care for up to 300 people per day and
        has customized modules for surgery, first aid and triage,
        psychosocial support, and a ward of 70 beds.

"We've been reaching very nearly 100,000 people a week on average since the quake," said Gregg McDonald, leader of the IFRC cluster-coordination team.

"However, shelter relief did not really begin in Haiti until after the search and rescue phase was over.

"If we average the response from the beginning of the third week after the disaster, the cluster has been reaching more than 122,000 people a week," added McDonald.

Several agencies working with the shelter cluster have now developed prototype "transitional" houses - small, mainly wood-frame structures that can be built cheaply and easily, and potentially in large numbers.

But of the few sites identified by the Haitian government for potential resettlement, none is yet available for building.

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 over 185 national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Its 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: or to arrange an interview: Canadian Red Cross media line: (613) 740-1994

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