Swiss aid to Haiti

Bern, Press release, 21.01.2010

A team from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) was already on its way to Haiti within 10 hours after the devastating earthquake struck on 12 January. In the capital, Port-au-Prince, its first task was to reinforce the experts at the SDC Programme Office. In the meantime, the team in Haiti and the Dominican Republic has been expanded to more than 50 members.

The team of Swiss experts currently includes 12 doctors. To date, they have performed about 60 operations in the University Hospital and provided medical support for a dozen births. A part of the first team of doctors will be replaced at the weekend.  

Swiss water specialists are currently working on restoring the water supply. After repairs have been completed, 12 drinking-water distribution centres (public tanks) will provide water to 20,000 people mainly in poorer districts. In the University Hospital, a 2.5 tonne water reservoir has been installed for the patients and is now operational. 

The Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Confederation has dispatched two freight aircrafts to the earthquake zone with aid goods including three months’ basic medical supplies for 20,000 people, essential surgical equipment, bandages, a military sanitary container (emergency operating theatre), ten tonnes multi-purpose tarpaulins for emergency shelters, 31 large tents (60 m2 each), 2,000 family kitchen sets (pans, plates, mugs, etc.), 8,300 water canisters, 12 water reservoirs including pumps and distributors. The materials carried on the first flight have already been deployed or distributed to people in need via controlled channels. A part of the medicines on board were supplied by Novartis.  

Third aircraft with aid goods 
A third aircraft, a Boeing 747 carrying about 95 tonnes of aid goods, is being prepared for departure on Sunday, 24 January. The bulk of its load will comprise 600 family tents, providing 20m2 of living space. In addition, there will be 20 tonnes of tarpaulins, several sterilising appliances, further essential medicines for 40,000 people, and hospital equipment. Medicines are also being supplied to the Albert-Schweitzer-Hospital. 

The emergency aid kits and tents are intended to ensure the survival of several thousand people in Port-au-Prince and in the devastated area south-west of the capital. Two large tents will be set up to house 80 children at the orphanage. Three large tents are to be pitched in the grounds of the University Hospital. 

The Swiss Embassy in Port-au-Prince has been able to make contact with more than 190 Swiss nationals in Haiti since the disaster hit. Of these, only three have been injured. It has not yet been possible to contact four other Swiss nationals presumed to be in Haiti. Swiss citizens wishing to leave the country are being supported by the Embassy and the FDFA crisis unit. To date, about two dozen people have been flown out or transported out of the country overland.   

The Humanitarian Aid of the Swiss Confederation has made a transport helicopter available to the United Nations World Food Programme for distribution and logistical purposes in areas difficult to access. Contributions from the Confederation’s Humanitarian Aid to Haiti amount to CHF 7.5 million. This includes CHF 3 million for the Swiss Red Cross, the ICRC, the World Food Programme and OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs). Swiss aid to Haiti will continue after the emergency relief phase is over.


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