Red Cross hosts Haiti conference

The Haiti Response Summit was held in Montreal last week, bringing together 27 national societies of the Red Cross Red Crescent to discuss the international humanitarian effort. The speakers were Michaële Amédée Gédéon, president of Haitian Red Cross, Conrad Sauvé, secretary general and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross, and David Peppiatt, international director of the British Red Cross.

At a press conference Wednesday, a journalist in the audience demanded to know when the coordination problems between Haitian authorities would be resolved.

Gédéon admitted that there has been a lack of coordination, as well as disputes between the NGOs, the Haitian government, and the United Nations organizations. But she reminded the journalist that these organizations have been affected by the crisis just like the rest of the population, and that it is sometimes difficult for them to provide effective care.

Peppiatt pointed out that this crisis has brought about a huge logistical challenge for government ministers; “the government buildings are completely decimated and ministers are meeting in tents and in the police station.”

As there has not been an earthquake in Haiti in nearly 200 years, Sauvé noted that the current situation will require the Red Cross to extend the emergency response phase and to keep their team on the ground longer than the usual three to four months.

Gédéon emphasized that people must realize that the Red Cross will not be able to respond to everyone’s needs. Their primary target is to provide shelter for the most desperate, those who previously had inadequate or no shelter.

More specifically, Peppiatt, who was recently on site, said, “There are problems of shelter in the area as there are 1.2 million without shelter…. We are providing transitional shelters as long-term settlements.”