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Act for Peace’s Church partners respond to Haiti earthquake

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia,  is responding to the catastrophic earthquake that has crippled Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than 100,000 people are feared dead and many more are left homeless.

Act for Peace’s church partners on the ground described the situation as “very chaotic” and a disaster of “huge dimensions”.

The earthquake was the most powerful to hit Haiti in more than 200 years. The 7.0 magnitude quake has caused scenes of chaos in the streets. Hospitals, schools, houses and shops collapsed, and people were screaming “Jesus, Jesus”, not knowing where to run. The presidential palace lay in ruins, and many churches have been decimated.

Act for Peace Executive Director, Alistair Gee, said, “This tragedy follows years of conflict and instability in Haiti. We are supporting the provision of water and sanitation materials, hygiene kits and psychosocial treatment for the victims of this tragedy. Our partners are already in place, assisting those affected by the earthquake.”

The earthquake has also caused major damage to water, electricity and road systems. The immediate need is to rescue people trapped in the rubble, then to get people food and water. Children were still in school in the afternoon when the earthquake hit, so there are many children trapped in crumbled buildings.”

“Two of our partner’s staff members remain unaccounted for in Haiti, while most are still in shock after surviving the destruction. Although communications from the capital Port-au-Prince is scant, our partners working in the country are still worried about the fate of their colleagues.”

Dick Loendersloot of one of our partners on the ground, the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO) said, “People still don’t know if their families are okay and are out looking for them.”

World Council of Churches General Secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, also expresses condolences and solidarity with the people of Haiti. He said, “Once again they have experienced the great burdens of anguish, damage and death because of a natural catastrophe. They have already carried many burdens of political instability and poverty.”

Act for Peace is accepting gifts to the Haiti Earthquake Appeal and once immediate needs are addressed, we will focus on the long term rehabilitation of the affected populations. The scale of the damage is immense and we must make a long-term commitment to our partners to ensure they can rebuild.

Visit the Act for Peace website for more details.