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Emergency team in Haiti

Humanity & Inclusion sent four members of its global, emergency response pool to Haiti, landing in Port Au Prince on August 19. They joined the program staff, present in Haiti since 2008, who have been hard at work preparing HI’s response since the quake hit. The team includes an emergency area manager, a rehabilitation / mental health and psychosocial support specialist, a logistics technician, and a communications officer.

Deliver emergency aid to Haiti

The next morning, a team of nine (including three drivers, a program rehabilitation specialist, a program director, and a logistics technician) set out at sunrise for a seven-hour journey over 124 miles to the Cayes. Their goal? To perform a more comprehensive needs assessment in the regions most affected by Haiti’s recent earthquake, including an evaluation of the needs among people most impacted by the disaster. The team is constructing a response plan to address needs and facilitate aid. The team explains the important care required in this delicate phase of emergency response.

“People often think that emergency means immediate,” says Virginie Duclos, Emergency Physical and Functional Rehabilitation manager. “In reality, if we want to deliver quality, comprehensive care that is adapted to the people we’re serving and to the specific situation, a lot of first steps need to take place. Things do move very quickly, but understanding needs is crucial before acting. This is especially true when it comes to something as technically sensitive as rehabilitation. Thousands have been injured by this earthquake and rushed or improper services can easily make matters worse.”

The two rehabilitation specialists visited multiple hospitals in the Cayes on Friday, August 20, to assess the essential needs of the injured. In seeing those who are receiving immediate medical treatment for active wounds, knowing exactly what kinds of services will be required in both the short and long term, and the volume of people in need, the team is able to prepare Humanity & Inclusion’s response accordingly.

“We also have to keep in mind the communities that we’re serving and work in their best interests,” adds Anissa Bouachria, emergency area manager for Humanity & Inclusion. “This means collaborating with the local ministry of health and civil society, introducing ourselves to local authorities when we arrive, and working together. It requires one-on-one meetings with hospital administrators, who can tell us their needs, instead of the other way around.  By working together, we can build a more sustainable, adapted response to the people who so desperately need our help.” 

Access has remained a consistent obstacle in delivering aid since the earthquake, and clearing is the obstructions is essential. Four members of Humanity & Inclusion’s Atlas Logistic team were already in the Cayes, reinforcing an initiative managed by United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC). Another member of that team is expected to join on Saturday, specializing in rubble clearance from important transit points that have been blocked by landslides or building collapses.

“The situation is complex,” Anissa continues. “So we’ll need everyone’s generosity to make it happen and make sure our response is a success in the long term.”  

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