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Haiti emergency relief efforts continue, with an eye to the future
January 23, 2010

(Washington, D.C.) Jan. 23, 2010 – “We are not yet out of the emergency phase of responding to the most basic needs, that is: water, food, and medical services,” Sonia Adames told JRS/USA Friday about JRS disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Adames, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service Santo Domingo office in the Dominican Republic, added that JRS is analyzing the situation to predict future needs while concurrently responding to immediate needs.
 
Also Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasized the need to rebuild the impoverished Caribbean nation and “turn disaster into opportunity.” Addressing the General Assembly, Ban said the emergency response to the 7.0 magnitude quake must shift in the coming weeks towards longer-term relief and recovery. The international community must help the Haitian government reconstitute itself, restore basic services and jump-start the economy, he said.



Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, was making progress prior to the January 12 tremors, enjoying political stability and stepped up economic investment. But the earthquake, which ravaged the capital, Port-au-Prince, has affected one third of the country’s population of nine million. 
 
“Haiti’s recovery must begin with its people – strong, resilient and impatient to get to work rebuilding their lives and their country,” Ban said.

Speaking to Entreculturas, Adames said that reports of violence and looting in Haiti might be overblown. “We have reports from people and organizations in Haiti who tell us that the (reports reaching the outside world are) not comparable to what is really going on. They have seen brave and calm people amidst a population that is dying of hunger.”

Thursday, Congress passed a bill passed that will allow taxpayers to claim an itemized deduction on their 2009 tax returns for donations made by March 1, 2010 for the relief efforts in Haiti.

"The outpouring of support and assistance from around the world has been extraordinary, and I’ve been very proud to see generous Americans from every corner of our country open their hearts in solidarity with the Haitian people,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week. “These are the times when we remember our common humanity, when we pull together across cultures and borders to help those suffering and in need."

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is rolling out a cash-for-work program to employ Haitians, a move that will kick-start economic activity while facilitating the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance. 
 
The $5-a-day Haitians will earn through the initiative – working on rubble removal and the rehabilitation of essential social infrastructure, such as street repairs and electricity – will circulate through the economy, boosting small businesses and banks, ultimately stimulating the economy and spurring job growth.

The first phase of the cash-for-work program will focus on Carrefour-Feuilles, a neighborhood just south of Port-au-Prince. The initiative will soon be rolled out in other earthquake-stricken locations, including Leogane and Jacmel. Once fully operational, the project will employ 220,000 people, indirectly benefitting around one million Haitians.

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA has received several offers of donations consisting of clothing, food and blankets. While we certainly appreciate these offers, it is simply not possible for us to accept them. The best way to help is to donate financially to organizations such as JRS/USA responding to the disaster. 
 
Cash allows relief professionals to procure exactly what is needed in a disaster situation and ensure that donations are culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate. Cash donations do not use up other scarce resources, such as transportation, staff time or warehouse space. As needed, cash can also be transferred quickly to where needed, helping bolster the economy of the disaster-stricken region.






Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
cfuchs@jesuit.org
202-462-0400 ext. 5946