World Vision: Needs in Haiti immense, growing

The Christian humanitarian organization World Vision reported late Thursday that transportation bottlenecks are hampering relief efforts in Haiti.

The airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince has been temporarily closed because of lack of fuel and logistical concerns. There is heavy damage surrounding ports in the capital. Similar bottlenecks are taking place at locations in the neighboring Dominican Republic .

Flights scheduled out of World Vision’s warehouses in Denver, Colo. and Panama City, Fla., are grounded.

World Vision had relief items stored in Haiti in preparation for hurricane season and began distributing these yesterday. Medical supplies, blankets, and tents and other supplies from its Petionville office have quickly run low.

World Vision teams visited more than 10 hospitals in the Port-au-Prince area, handing out gauze, bandages, syringes, latex gloves and antibiotics. One aid worker, Dr. Lesly Michaud, said that the local hospitals are not only running low on supplies, but on medical personnel as well.

“Yesterday, we visited one hospital that normally has 10 doctors working there. That day, they had one doctor treating all of the patients,” he said.

Michaud spent last night providing medical treatment at one local open-air hospital, but he said the demands are overwhelming. “We are doing everything we can do right now, but there is more that needs to be done.”

Text messages from some staff paint a dire picture

n “Things are worse than they were yesterday. There are entire groups

of people all over the city that are just roaming around and setting up camp anywhere they can. The main priority right now needs to be emergency shelter because they are blocking roads…”(Skype IM message from Magalie Boyer, Communications Manager,World Vision, Haiti)

n “Much worse than expected. Bodies in the streets. Mass destruction,

injured children. Some really bad. People receiving med treatment in the streets. Chaos. People digging out bodies all over PaP (Port-au-Prince). Prayer and a lot of cash needed. (SMS message from veteran aid worker Steve Matthews, Communications Manager, World Vision’s Global Rapid Response Team)

World Vision is appealing for at least $25 million in the U.S. to fund the response in Haiti. More may be necessary.

“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of donors already,” said President Rich Stearns of World Vision’s United States office. “But this is a marathon, and we need people who will continue to run that race beside us.”

In its race to respond and overcome the overwhelming challenges of getting relief assistance to those in need, World Vision is pursuing alternatives and using all the resources at its disposal. World Vision has more than 800 Haitian staff as well as a dozen international logistics and disaster response experts deploying to launch humanitarian programs not only in the capital city, but also in rural areas and along the border. World Vision has a large national office in the Dominican Republic and will utilize its warehouse and other resources to provide support.

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