October 1 2004
SOS emergency relief aid for Gonaives gets underway
01/10/2004 - Emergency relief aid provided by SOS Children's Villages is underway to the northern Haitian city of Gonaives, which was devastated by heavy flooding following tropical storm Jeanne. Four youths in the care of SOS Children's Villages accompanied the aid to Gonaives, and helped international relief organisations with the distribution of food and kitchen utilities.
Last week, SOS Children's Villages joined forces with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to provide relief aid for Gonaives, where more than 2,400 people are reported dead, hundreds are missing and thousands are in desperate need of food, water and medication. At the request of the WFP, SOS Children's Villages provided cooking utensils and kitchen equipment, which are urgently needed to prepare meals for those affected by the natural disaster.
Four youths in the care of SOS Children's Villages in Santo, Haiti, helped transport the goods to the disaster zone, where an estimated 80% of the 225,000 inhabitants have been severely affected by the flooding. They also supported the non-governmental organisation CARE in their food distribution efforts. These youths, all boys, are between the ages of 16 and 22 and were accompanied on their mission by two supervisors from SOS Children's Villages.
However, due to the current chaotic and dangerous situation in Gonaives, all of the youths returned home to Santo prematurely. "We feared for them in view of the dangerous developments involving the distribution of food and other goods," said José Pereyra, national director of SOS Children's Villages in Haiti.
UN peacekeepers are busy preventing armed gangs from stealing the aid at the distribution centres and along the roads leading into Gonaives.
In addition, the sheer number of people requiring aid in Gonaives complicates matters even more. SOS Children's Village national director Pereyra said: "Some 40,000 families have virtually lost everything and, as a consequence, it is complicated to attend to all of them."