Sunday, February 29, 2004

Ja: Resources for helping Haitians are dwindling

Jamaica needs all the help it can get to provide for Haitian refugees. Please send help to Jamaica for the Haitians via the Salvation Army or the Red Cross.

EMERGENCY AND civil society groups are coming under pressure with the high influx of Haitian refugees who have landed in Portland. Already resources are dwindling as the number of refugees continue to increase.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), through its parish co-ordinator, Fay Neufville, on Friday, February 27, said that the Portland Parish Council (PPC), spent a large, undisclosed amount of money to assist with the growing Haitian refugee increase.

"I have been kept busy at the office all day making up a budget," she said. "Trying to regain some of the money already spent by the PPC through the ODPEM, towards shelter, food and clothing for the refugees."

The ODPEM co-ordinator also said that the task of providing for the refugees is becoming more and more challenging. "We were not prepared for this crisis situation. At least, not this rapid increase of refugees. One must understand that many of the emergency and also civil society groups are charitable ones, not funded by Government. Many are beginning to feel the strain, and would welcome outside assistance."

The Portland Red Cross has been providing warm meals for the Haitians, since their arrival and it has also deployed four of its personnel, full-time, at one of the refugee shelters at the Winnifred Rest Home in Fairy Hill.

"We continue to provide warm meals, clothing and items of bedding to the refugees," said Gloria Miller, care person at the local Red Cross. "We have got donations in the form of food and clothing from the business community in Port Antonio, and also from local residents to assist with the refugees. This has somewhat reduced some of the strain on our pockets."

Ms. Miller also said that more Haitian arrivals could lead to an accommodation problem, something that is already facing them down.

"We might be forced to implement makeshift plans by deploying tents at Carder Park, to facilitate the refugees upon arrival. I am happy to say, however, that so far, we have been coping with the situation, thanks to renewed efforts from our members."

BTW, Fox News says Canada has not seized control of the airport in Haiti. It's a critical point of control, and bandits are laying in wait to rob those on the way to the Port au Prince airport.


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