Haiti Earthquake: One of the Toughest Weeks Ever for Oxfam Staff

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rebecca Wynn, 01865 472530 / 07769 887139 / rwynn@oxfam.org.uk or
Lucy Brinicombe, 01865 472192 / 07786 110054 / lbrinicombe@oxfam.org.uk

Haiti Earthquake: One of the Toughest Weeks Ever for Oxfam Staff

WASHINGTON - Responding to the Haiti earthquake has been one of the toughest challenges ever, international aid agency Oxfam said today, one week since the quake struck, killing at least 80,000 people.

Although aid is beginning to get through, the impact of the
earthquake on Oxfam’s Haitian and international staff, the logistical
challenges combined with a destroyed office and warehouse and the loss
of communications have made this the one of the hardest responses the
agency has ever mounted.

The agency lost two employees and most of its staff have endured
harrowing personal losses as a result of the quake. Most of Oxfam's
staff had their homes damaged or destroyed and are sleeping outside
like the rest of the Haitian population.

Part of the Oxfam office and a key warehouse full of $122,000 worth of vital water and sanitation equipment were destroyed when the quake struck.

Oxfam Country Director, Yolette Etienne said: “Many of my staff here
have lost their homes, and some have had family losses. Two Oxfam
members of staff were killed when the quake struck and I lost my own
mother. But we are still here working. I told my staff that we have no
choice, no other option but to work and to work harder since we have
the privilege of still being here and we can help people to overcome
their desperation. A day after the quake most of the staff were back at
the office planning our response.”

Broken communication channels – no phone lines or
internet – meant it was difficult for staff on the ground to
communicate their needs and order vital equipment and supplies to
headquarters in the first few days. Communications are beginning to
improve – mobile phones are starting to work as well as the internet in
some areas of Port-au-Prince.

The staff salvaged some stocks from the destroyed
warehouse, but new equipment for providing clean water and sanitation
is now arriving. Oxfam is using Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic
as a hub for supplies from the UK, which will go by road to
Port-au-Prince.

Ten tons of new stock was flown from the United
Kingdom to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic on Saturday and has
now arrived in Port-au-Prince. Thirty tons of stock will depart from
the UK today (Tuesday) and will be followed by a further flight,
carrying 50 tons of Oxfam aid on Friday. Water trucking has begun in
several locations across Port-au-Prince, but operations were briefly
halted because of lack of fuel around the capital.

Please donate now

The people of Haiti need your support. Help now by donating to our Haiti Earthquake Response Fund:

Oxfam America
Oxfam Australia
Oxfam-in-Belgium, in French or in Dutch
Oxfam Canada
Oxfam Germany
Oxfam Great Britain
Oxfam Hong Kong
Oxfam Ireland
Oxfam Mexico
Oxfam Novib (Netherlands)
Oxfam New Zealand
Oxfam Quebec
Intermon Oxfam (Spain)

Alternatively, you can also make a donation to the general emergency fund of your nearest national Oxfam affiliate. Your money will be used to fund our emergency work worldwide, which includes responding in countries such as Haiti.

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Oxfam International is a confederation of 13 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to bring about lasting change. Oxfam works directly with communities and that seeks to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

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