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Caricom prepares for the recovery phase in Haiti

BY COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter robinsonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, February 08, 2010    

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EMERGENCY response teams from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) attended to more than 3,000 people injured in Haiti's devastating earthquake, and have vowed to provide more assistance after March 5 when the recovery phase begins.

According to Jeremy Collymore, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Caricom relief teams also performed more than 200 major operations and participated in 15 search and rescue operations.

"They have also moved 95 tonnes of canned foods, 41 tonnes of water and approximately four tonnes of medical supplies," Collymore said, adding that approximately 40 containers of food supplies remained to be sent overseas.

Collymore gave the update on Caricom's operation in Haiti at a press conference at the Norman Manley International Airport VIP lounge on Saturday night.

He lauded the team's provision of technical assistance to the earthquake-ravaged country, saying the group had made a "strong footprint" in the establishment of the relief distribution system, the operation of the house management programme, and the establishment of guidelines for the many camps there.

"That has allowed the government of Haiti to say, to its international donors, that they want them to respond to their priorities because they now have the technical ability to start framing these," Collymore said, citing shelter as one of the most immediate priority.

In fact, he said there was still a need for more than 200, 000 tents for people whose homes were completely destroyed in the magnitude-7.0 quake, and that Caricom was in the process of providing tents to shelter more than 5,000 people.

The tents are expected to arrive in the island later this week.

Collymore said, however, that Caricom was providing assistance on a three-phased basis, and on March 5, the first phase -- the acute emergency phase -- would officially come to an end.

"We are now in the transition phase. This means we are starting to move away from solely focusing on emergency and relief care, to looking at some recovery interventions. The first focus of that is on the health intervention," he said, adding that further dialogue would have to be had with the Haitian government to determine the path forward.

Representatives from at least thirteen Caricom states have been providing assistance in Haiti, he said.

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