More about the crisis and how you can help:state.gov/haitiquake
Today, USAID Administrator Raj Shah and State Department Counselor Cheryl Mills provided an update on the situation in Haiti. Ms. Mills said:
"We've been working very closely with the Haitian Government. We have continued daily meetings not only with the prime minister but also meetings that have been happening with President Preval to sort through their priorities, listen to them as they are thinking through their forward planning as they look ahead to the next steps. We spent time at a conference in Montreal, actually, last week, where Prime Minister Bellerive spoke a lot about the vision for Haiti and in particular about the need to do decentralization in Haiti and to see Haiti grow outward from Port-au-Prince as opposed to remaining concentrated there, and what that might mean in terms of their thinking for how they see the recovery and building of Haiti in the future.
"At that conference there were many countries from around the world, all of whom were pledging to be committed to Haiti, not just today but tomorrow and the next day and the days ahead. Many of them have been long-term partners of Haiti on the ground, and so it was nice to be in a place where so many people who had a great familiarity of not only the Haitian country and culture and government, but also what have been the challenges and the opportunities that are in Haiti. And that's what I think everybody is anticipating focusing on as we look ahead down the road.
"We are anticipating that conference, which will be a donors conference to pledge what resources each country would be willing to put forward to support the building of Haiti, to occur in March. And we are also anticipating that at that time there will have been an assessment that's been done by the UN that will allow us to make the kinds of judgments and the kinds of commitments that will build a better Haiti, or, as the Haitians have said and Prime Minister Bellerive, a new Haiti for the government and the citizens of that country.
"We are very cognizant of the fact that Haiti alone, and certainly not the -- with the United States or anyone else alone can actually accomplish the breadth and scope of the task that's necessary for what needs to be done in Haiti. And so we are really looking forward to critical partnerships around the globe in support of the Government of Haiti and the people of Haiti as they go about defining what their future should look like."
Administrator Shah underscored the fact that rebuilding Haiti, first and foremost, is a partnership with the Haitian Government and described relief and recovery efforts. Administrator Shah said:
"[W]e're ramping up the relief effort and we're trying, in a very focused way, to do things that are sustainable, that are appropriate, and that can contribute to a strong Haitian recovery in terms of the economic recovery and in terms of the recovery of the capacity of public services to sustain services provided to the Haitian population. So when we were talking earlier, our priority and our focus was around saving lives through search-and-rescue, and it has obviously evolved."
The Administrator continued, "[E]very day we are very focused on doing better than we did the day before. And that continual metric we track in quantitative terms, sector by sector. And...I'll just remind folks -- and I enjoy sharing this because it's an important point -- that it is the resilience of the Haitian people that is the primary vehicle through which most relief is provided, and I was reminded of that when I visited and walked through a settlement near the presidential palace. And you walk through that environment, and we would -- we pulled up a blanket and saw a 12-volt battery connected to an inverter connected to a power strip charging probably 20 mobile phones. And people are, in fact, using those types of systems to stay connected to get information and to make effective decisions about where to go for food and supplies and for shelter and other forms of support."
Administrator Shah described how the Haitian Government, the United States and others are addressing various sectors of relief and recovery. He focused on food, shelter, health and water. The Administrator said:
"In the food sector, we've now provided food and two-week rations to more than 800,000 Haitians. The rate of daily service has more than tripled from an initial rate of around 45,000 served a day to now more than 120,000 today. The reason for that significant improvement has been putting in place a fixed distribution system at 16 sites throughout Port-au-Prince. And the U.S. military, together with the World Food Program, the Government of Haiti, and a number of NGO partners, has come together to make that system an effective one.
"In shelter, our target remains between 240- and 300,000 households and providing them with services and the capacity to provide shelter for themselves, and shelter that would be protective in an event of rains. We believe, through the combined efforts of a number of NGO partners, UN partners, and the Government of Haiti, that we've reached approximately 70,000 of those households, especially with plastic sheeting and shelter kits and some training to help support their efforts to build and to maintain a shelter for themselves.
"The rate in terms of the rate of the number of the people we're reaching in that sector has increased significantly in the last 10 days, and we continue to track that, and believe we now have enough materials, plastic sheeting, shelter kits, and NGO capacity to serve up to 260,000 households."
Regarding health, Administrator Shah said:
"We have worked with the Pan American Health Organization, CDC, and the Government of Haiti through its 43 hospitals to help put in place a disease surveillance system that has now 51 surveillance sites. We will soon be starting vaccination campaigns for DPT, for measles, mumps and rubella, and tetanus toxoid. They'll be targeted, of course, to different subgroups of the population.
"In addition to that, we continue with the trauma service and medical service that's been provided by the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and by the USNS Comfort that has been in the theater. We estimate U.S. medical professionals have now seen more -- or nearly 25,000 patients; that's a tremendous achievement. Of course, the needs with such a tragic situation are far in excess of that, but it is an important point. And we are now working collectively with our NGO partners and, in particular, partners of our PEPFAR program and with the CDC to really help transition some of these medical assets that were brought down by the Disaster Medical Teams to NGO partners who can help sustain their ability to serve Haitians, and also make sure those assets get integrated into a sustained and more effective healthcare system for Haiti.
"The other focus in the health sector for us will continue to be on post-trauma and post-operative care. And we're increasing capacity in Haiti primarily by identifying and expanding the capacities at 31 sites that we believe have the capacity to provide post-operative and orthopedic services."
The Administrator continued, "[W]e have had approximately 2 million liters delivered daily to nearly 160 sites. That has continued to increase steadily week by week, and we have not seen shortages of water in pockets or with settlements."
Read the full briefing here.