Aid groups struggling to reach injured Haitians

IDF to set up emergency field hospital; Chabad emissary: "We see people on the road, asking for food."

January 15, 2010 20:56
2 minute read.
ZAKA rescue workers fly to Haiti earthquake disast

ZAKA rescue workers fly to Haiti earthquake disaster area. (photo credit: ZAKA)


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Three days after an earthquake shattered Haiti, leaving thousands of dead on the impoverished island, rescue and aid groups continued to descend on the Caribbean nation, seeking to bring in food, water and medical supplies.

Facing ruins inside the country, groups - including an Israeli delegation - made their way by air and by road via Santo Domingo, with aid convoys struggling to reach thousands of injured Haitians, who quickly were running out of food and water.

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The IDF's aid mission to Haiti left Israel overnight Thursday with equipment for setting up an emergency field hospital. Around 220 soldiers and officers are in the delegation, including 120 medical staff that will operate the hospital in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

Jewish organizations - including the American Jewish World Service and the Joint Distribution Committee - are working with partners on the ground in Haiti. The JDC is working with Heart to Heart to bring medical aid, equipment and services to victims of the earthquake. It also is working with the IDF's medical corps, and purchased equipment including infant incubators and orthopedic devices.

Chabad send four trucks of vegetables, as reports came that food and water were scarce and looting had begun. "We see people on the road, asking for food," Rabbi Shimon Pelman, Chabad's emissary in Santo Domingo, told The Jerusalem Post by telephone Friday he traveled by car from the Dominican Republican to Haiti.

Just after crossing the border into Haiti, he said, it was like another world. "You see a big nothing," he said. "You don't have anything. You just see people asking for food and water."

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday that up to 50 percent of the buildings in Haiti's capital and other areas hardest hit by the earthquake have been damaged or destroyed.

The U.N. chief said that the United Nations will launch an emergency appeal later Friday for $550 million to provide food, water, shelter and other essentials for millions of Haitians.

The international community's response, Ban said, has been "robust." He acknowledged "there is frustration" among Haitians with the pace of relief efforts and noted that the UN was watching for any signs or unrest.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said that 37 UN personnel have been confirmed dead and 330 remain missing from about 12,000 people working for all UN operations in Haiti.

AP contributed to this report

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