ICRC is sending its first emergency relief team of 12 people to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake from Geneva early tomorrow morning. They will support staff already in place.
ICRC spokesperson Florian Westphal describes the situation in Haiti and the relief effort being coordinated from ICRC headquarters in Geneva. The situation is "very bad" with "massive destruction", he said.
The first focus will be to help search for survivors, provide medical care for the injured and support efforts to recover and identify the dead. ICRC will support Red Cross efforts to restore contacts between family members separated because of the earthquake. It will also assess the needs of the prisons where it has been regularly visiting detainees.
The ICRC is contributing to relief efforts by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement both in Port-au-Prince and from its regional base in Panama. Stocks of non-food relief items are being made available for up to 10,000 families, and additional staff will be deployed as soon as possible. All ICRC activities are carried out in close cooperation with its Red Cross partners, especially the Haitian National Red Cross Society.
The ICRC's nine international staff in the capital, Port-au-Prince, are safe and sound but the whereabouts of all its 59 local employees have not yet been clarified.
The ICRC has been working in Haiti since 1994. It focuses on improving access to water and sanitation in violence-prone shantytowns in Port-au-Prince, visiting detainees and supporting the Haitian Red Cross.