PHILADELPHIA - February 22 - In its time-honored tradition of helping in times of crisis through immediate aid and long-term development, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) -- an international humanitarian organization -- has activated its emergency response team who, along with on-the-ground staff in Grand' Anse, Haiti are assessing critical needs.
The Service Committee is the only international humanitarian group with operations and programs in Grand' Anse, located in southwestern Haiti. Preliminary staff reports show political unrest has disrupted food and other basic supplies to this rural area. Flows of produce and other goods to markets have been cut and police have abandoned most outposts.
"Boats that normally bring food and other supplies to the area have not arrived, creating a situation of hunger," states Geri Sicola, AFSC associate general secretary for International Programs. "Similarly, the flow of produce, charcoal and other goods to markets in neighboring areas has also been cut affecting other supplies."
AFSC has initiated immediate humanitarian assistance for those most at risk in rural areas. Staff working on-the-ground in the region continue to monitor the situation closely.
A special fund to help assuage the growing crisis has been created. Contributions to the AFSC Haiti Fund should be made payable and be sent to AFSC Development, 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, PA 19102. To contribute via Visa or MasterCard, call 1-888-588-2372, ext. 1, or through the AFSC website at http://www.afsc.org/emap/haiti.htm.
Haiti is the first black independent republic. The country is in a situation of violence and social insecurity that deepens daily -- paralyzed by a political impasse between President Jean Bertrand Aristide and the political opposition. Recently small armed groups have seized control over some of the country's major cities.
Backed by an 87-year history of humanitarian relief efforts, the American Friends Service Committee has provided crucial, life-saving assistance to people struggling for survival - whether caught in the crossfire of war or suffering the horrors of earthquake or famine. Its relief efforts throughout World Wars I and II were among the reasons why the American Friends Service Committee and its British counterpart accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the Religious Society of Friends. Working collaboratively has been a major focus of the Service Committee's highly regarded international affairs work.
The Service Committee has worked in the most rural and impoverished areas of Grand' Anse since 1989. The organization carries out an integrated health and development program reaching areas where some 40,000 families live.