A plane with members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) on board took off from Bern-Belp airport on Thursday 19 August for Haiti. The team consists of a logistician, two water and sanitation specialists, two structural engineers, a disaster area adviser and a team leader.
The SHA is the operational arm of Swiss Humanitarian Aid, which comes under the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA).
The team has been sent to support humanitarian operations of the Swiss embassy in Port-au-Prince which are already under way. Haiti is a priority country for the SDC, which immediately mobilised its staff on the ground – including architects, emergency shelter and disaster risk reduction specialists – to support the Haitian civil protection services in assessing needs.
Currently located in Port-Salut, in the Cayes district near the epicentre, the Swiss teams are working to deploy 3,250 tarpaulins and two drinking water distribution points of 5,000 litres each in the affected areas. Equipment was already stored on site for deployment in the event of such a disaster.
The SDC plans to allocate a total of CHF 1 million for this emergency aid operation. CHF 500,000 will be earmarked for appeals launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and by the United Nations, and CHF 100,000 for the activities of the Swiss Red Cross. The FDFA also intends to make additional SHA specialists available to UN organisations for humanitarian aid operations.
The FDFA's Crisis Management Centre is not aware of any requests for support from Swiss citizens so far and is continuing to monitor the security situation closely for staff and Swiss citizens. FDFA travel advice for Haiti has been updated accordingly. Owing to the fraught situation, travel to Haiti for tourism or other non-urgent purposes has been advised against for several years.
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