Sunday, January 17, 2010

President Obama Tasks Former Presidents Bush and Clinton with Fundraising for Haiti Recovery

/PRNewswire-/ -- The U.S. Fund for UNICEF today applauded the joint efforts of President Obama and Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in ensuring that the American response to the crisis in Haiti is sustained over the long-term.

"On behalf of Haiti's children, we applaud the joint initiative of President Obama and Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to provide leadership, resources and visibility to the long term recovery effort," said Caryl Stern, President and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

"When the media spotlight fades from the initial disaster relief, UNICEF and its partners will still be on the ground, working to build Haiti back and this cannot be accomplished with out sustained support. Though we cannot undo the damage of Tuesday's earthquake, we can decide to make Haiti's children a priority and work to ensure their childhoods are not irrevocably destroyed by its aftermath."

Efforts are underway to unload and deliver UNICEF emergency supplies and equipment that arrived in Port-au-Prince by plane in the early hours this morning. This first UNICEF shipment included water tanks, water purification tablets and rehydration salts. Clean water and sanitation are amongst the most important emergency relief needs following most emergencies, in particular to protect against the serious health risks posed by diarrheal infections and diseases.

Two more planes loaded with relief are planned for the weekend, carrying some 70 metric tons of tents, tarpaulin, and medicine.

Many of Haiti's public buildings and utilities have been destroyed. There is severe damage to hospitals, schools and the city's two seaports. This infrastructure damage has resulted in large scale displacement of people from their homes, into makeshift and overcrowded shelters.

As communications systems and infrastructure damaged by the earthquake that hit near Port au Prince on January 12 are slowly being repaired, precise information about the damage is still not available. According to the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) some 3.5 million people are estimated to be in the areas affected by the earthquake and its aftershocks. Thousands are feared dead, many more injured and unknown numbers still buried under the rubble.

UNICEF efforts to assist with life-saving and recovery operations in Haiti will focus on clean water and sanitation, therapeutic food for infants and small children, medical supplies and temporary shelter.

To donate to the ongoing emergency relief efforts in Haiti and the Caribbean region, please visit: www.unicefusa.org/haitiquake or call 1-800-4UNICEF.

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