Panama/Geneva, 16 March 2017 – The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, has concluded a six day visit to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. He praised the effective cooperation between the two Red Cross societies, and renewed his call for additional international support for communities still recovering from Hurricane Mathew, which devastated western Haiti five months ago.
“Five months seems long enough for the impact of Hurricane Matthew to have faded from the global view, but it is nowhere near enough time for families to recover,” said Mr Sy. “In many areas, the damage was absolute. People were left with nothing. They are still living in desperate conditions, and they need our support. We still have a job to do.”
In the weeks following the disaster, the IFRC launched an international appeal for more than 28 million Swiss francs to support 147,000 people. To date, only 7.6 million Swiss francs has been raised – about 28 per cent of what is needed.
In the past five months, the Haiti Red Cross Society, with the support of the IFRC and other Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, has reached more than 42,000 people with a range of assistance, including water and sanitation, health and hygiene information, livelihood support, relief items, and temporary shelter. In the days immediately following the storm, the Dominican Red Cross was one of the first organizations to respond, deploying 100 staff and volunteers to Haiti.
Mr Sy met with Haiti’s Prime Minister-designate, Jack Guy Lafontant, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Pierrot Delienne, and with the Cabinet of the President, as well as the President of the Haiti Red Cross, Dr Jean-Pierre Giteau, and representatives of Red Cross partners in the country. In his meetings, Mr Sy noted the critical role played by Haiti Red Cross in responding to disasters, health emergencies and other situations of vulnerability.
He also visited Léogâne, the town that was at the epicentre of the January 2010 earthquake, and that is home to a number of long-running Red Cross projects, including a community-based cholera prevention project, a blood bank, and a range of community-development projects.
In the Dominican Republic, Mr Sy visited the community of Hoyo de Puchula in Santiago de los Caballeros where the Dominican Red Cross is supporting highly vulnerable groups to prepare and mitigate recurrent and severe flooding and landslides, which occurred most recently last December. Red Cross volunteers have helped communities, including inmates at the Rafey Rehabilitation and Correction Centre to define evacuation routes, develop contingency plans, and put in place other potentially life-saving measures. Earlier this year, all 1,800 prisoners were safely evacuated when waters rose.
Mr Sy met with Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance, H.E. Altagracia Guzman Marcelino, together with the Dominican Red Cross President, Ms Ligia Leroux De Ramirez. Mr. Sy noted the close alignment between the priorities of the Ministry of Health and those of the Dominican Red Cross and pledged the IFRC’s continued support, including in the expansion of the country’s ambulance services.