Aid agencies ask public for donations to help injured and homeless

Fri, Jan 15, 2010, 00:00

RELIEF EFFORT:IRISH AID agencies appealed for public donations to help relief efforts in Haiti yesterday as grim reports emerged about conditions following the massive earthquake.

Goal team leader Darren Hanniffy said he encountered bodies piled up on the sides of the roads when he arrived in Port-au-Prince to assess the extent of the damage.

He said there were still bodies being pulled out of collapsed buildings and warned a major humanitarian aid effort was now required.

Gena Heraty, an Irishwoman who works in an orphanage run by the Our Little Brothers and Sisters charity on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, said there weren’t enough doctors, nurses, beds or medical supplies.

“Haiti is devastated and bleeding like you wouldn’t believe – so many bodies, so many people looking for medical help, so much blood and so much sadness.

“Kids are missing, some of our staff are dead, some of our kids are dead . . . Poor Haiti, nobody deserves what these people are going through,” she added.

The Government said it was sending a team of specialists to assist the emergency aid effort and Irish Aid would release emergency stockpiles of plastic sheeting and jerry cans to store water, which would assist 3,000 families.

The Irish Red Cross said it was sending an initial €25,000 in aid to Haiti from its emergency relief fund. It also made an emergency appeal for donations.

Haven, an NGO set up in 2008 by Irish businessman Leslie Buckley to build houses in Haiti, has also launched a public appeal. Mr Buckley said Port-au-Prince had been devastated and he was seeking 250 volunteers to go to Haiti in April to build new houses.

Initial reports by charities and aid agencies suggest a strong response from the public.

Simon Collins, a doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières, said the level of response to the appeals had only been surpassed by that to the Asian tsunami in 2004.

He said Médecins Sans Frontières was focused on providing direct medical aid and surgeons who could operate on people with broken bones and other serious injuries caused by crushing.

Concern said it had received donations of almost €200,000 within the first 24 hours.

“The Irish public is once again showing their great sense of empathy in these situations, as they did for the Pakistan earthquake and the Asian tsunami, and we offer a huge thank you to them,” said Concern’s chief executive Tom Arnold.

Goal said it had pledged €250,000 for immediate relief, but it expected the operation would be a substantial one and would require more money.

Oxfam, which has about 100 staff working in Haiti, said one of its employees had been killed in the earthquake.