Haiti - With torrential rains from Hurricane Sandy pounding Haiti since Tuesday evening, IOM, in support of the Haitian Government and Red Cross, has managed to evacuate 1,250 of the most vulnerable persons living in 12 camps identified as most at risk for flooding in the capital Port-au-Prince were evacuated to six shelters in various parts of the city.
Early in the week, IOM teams were deployed to all camps targeted for evacuation to prepare the most vulnerable for the storm, including preparations for a potential evacuation.
IOM Haiti conducted sensitization campaigns in 176 camps for the internally displaced before the storm. IOM was fully mobilized and present in vulnerable IDPs camps and evacuation centers, with a particular focus on provided for health and protection needs.
During the evacuations, the IOM health team identified a total of 343 vulnerable health cases, including pregnant and lactating mothers, children under five, elderly persons and handicapped individuals.
"This is a large scale operation that needs a rapid and coordinated effort from the international community and the local authorities. It is reassuring to know that we have moved more than one thousand very vulnerable individuals to safety. However, Haiti still has a total of 370,000 people living in precarious conditions in 541 camps scattered all over the country. The hurricane season is not finished and so the danger remains, despite well-coordinated emergency operations," said Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Chief of Mission in Haiti.
The evacuation operations were conducted in support of the Department for Civil Protection of the Haitian Government, the Haitian Red Cross, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the National Water and Sanitation Authority, with food assistance provided by the UN World Food Programme
"This emergency is yet another reminder of the urgent need to further equip and build the capacity of Haitian institutions and partners engaged in disaster and risk reduction and to increase the number of readily available shelters that meet international standards. We applaud current efforts of the Haitian Government, which so far have provided relocation assistance to 44,000 persons, but more resources need to be allocated so that mitigation work can continue," concluded Goodstein.
On Thursday 25 October, heavy rains and strong winds continue to batter the cities of Jacmel (South West), Leogane (South), and Les Cayes (South East).
The Government of Haiti is maintaining its red alert (highest level), as continuing rains are expected over the next day or two. IOM will remain ready to support the Haitian government and population should the situation deteriorate.
IOM works closely with Haitian authorities and with vulnerable populations, to help them prepare for potential disasters such as Tropical Storm Isaac in August 2012, as well as Hurricane Sandy.
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