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Red Cross and Partners Pass Halfway Mark in Race to Provide Emergency Shelter to Haiti’s Quake-Affected Population

Less than two months after the earthquake that devastated southern Haiti and left an estimated 1.3 million homeless, the Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies have distributed emergency shelter materials to more than 650,000 people – the halfway mark.

The Red Cross and its partners are on track to reach all 1.3 million people without shelter on or before the original target date of May 1. The Red Cross global network took over last month as coordinator for shelter under the inter-agency humanitarian “cluster” system.

Tens of thousands of tarpaulins, tents, ropes, timber uprights and toolkits continue to pour into Haiti, helping to put some shelter over people’s heads ahead of the rainy season, which peaks in May.

“Although we have a long way to go, we’ve reached a significant milestone,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of International Services for the American Red Cross. “Later this week, I will accompany Gail McGovern, our president and CEO, to the region for another visit. We look forward to seeing how much progress we’ve made in such a short time as well as ways to speed relief efforts.”.

The arrival of aid in Haiti was hampered in the immediate aftermath of the quake by massive damage to the country’s infrastructure which saw the seaport closed, the airport clogged and roads blocked.

Much of the aid had to be flown into the neighboring Dominican Republic, and then trucked to the Haitian capital.

Agencies working with the Red Cross in the cluster system have reached more than 80,000 people a week on average since the quake on January 12.

Humanitarian organizations working in Haiti hope to reach about two thirds of those who lost their homes by April 1, which is considered by many to be the on-average start of the rainy season.

“Our goal is to provide all of those who lost their homes with emergency shelter as soon as possible. We will not let up until the job is done,” said Meltzer.