Friday, January 15, 2010

Emergency Disaster Fund grants go to Haiti relief effort.

Two grants have been given from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) for the Haiti earthquake relief effort. The grants total $50,000, and had been bolstered by the more than $16,500 that already has been given through the Haiti donations page at the denominational website as of yesterday evening.

An EDF grant of $25,000 has been given for Brethren Disaster Ministries and Church of the Brethren work in Haiti following the earthquake. The grant will provide for travel and support of assessment teams from the US working in Haiti; support for the Haitian Church of the Brethren members impacted in Port-au-Prince; initial response activities developed by the response team; and a grant to partner with SSID through the Dominican Church of the Brethren.

An EDF grant of $25,000 has been given to the Church World Service earthquake appeal. The money will support cooperative efforts with CWS, and will help in the provision of immediate relief assistance that may include material resources, temporary shelter, food assistance, and health services.

Church World Service released a situation report on the earthquake yesterday, saying that "the global humanitarian effort...faces enormous challenges, given difficult logistics, collapsed infrastructure, and rising tensions." The situation report cited statements from authorities that looting has been reported in parts of Port-au-Prince, and as of yesterday power remained out, food supplies were dwindling, telecommunications were rarely functioning, and most medical facilities in the city had been severely damaged. The report cited a tentative casualty estimate from the Haitian Red Cross of about 45,000 to 50,000.

Today a report from the ACT Alliance global network of churches and related agencies said Haiti's capital "looks like a war zone," and that one million people are without shelter. The ACT statement appeared in Ecumenical News International, the news service of the World Council of Churches. "Thousands of people in Port-au-Prince--injured, hungry, and desperate--have spent days outdoors...without food or shelter," ACT said. "Desperate Haitians have blocked streets with corpses in anger. Food is stocking up at the airport, but has not yet been distributed."

CWS has issued an appeal for $200,000 for its relief effort; the Church of the Brethren has given $25,000 toward that total from its Emergency Disaster Fund. CWS is sending funds to local partners in Haiti as it continues to assess the situation. CWS-supported efforts will include the construction of temporary water systems, providing water purification materials, tents, and food packages. Additional efforts will be announced once assessments are completed.

SSID, which also partners with CWS in the Dominican Republic, is sending pre-positioned CWS Kits and Blankets from its warehouse in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the DR.

Don Tatlock, CWS Latin America and Caribbean program manager, is coordinating the CWS efforts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Tatlock also has a relationship with the Church of the Brethren, having been at the center of food assistance projects that the church’s Global Food Crisis Fund has sponsored in Guatemala, Nicaragua, and the DR.

CWS is pressing the US government to grant "Temporary Protected Status" to Haitians, allowing them to remain in the United States for at least 18 months as part of a comprehensive response to the current humanitarian crisis. CWS noted that Haiti’s current circumstances fall well within the criteria for granting the status, since it may be granted when requested by a foreign state that temporarily cannot handle the return of nationals due to an environmental disaster. The special status has been granted in similar situations to nationals of Honduras and Nicaragua after Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and to Salvadorans after an earthquake in 2001.

Source: 1/15/2010 Newsline Special

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