More help on the way for disaster victims

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, January 21, 2010
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Stefanie Zarych, a lawyer from Atlantic City in the United States, was on a US Airways flight from Philadelphia to Santo Domingo on Tuesday evening. She had not booked a hotel there yet, in fact, she was still trying to figure out how to get to her next destination - Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as soon as possible.

Zarych was taking boxes of medical supplies she purchased at her own expense with her. She wanted to deliver them to a hospital in Haiti, which she knew is desperately short of medicines and equipment.

"I plan to spend a week there to help out," Zarych told China Daily. She was not alone. Many of her fellow passengers were not going to Santo Domingo to enjoy the sunshine and the beach resorts, but are instead intent on getting to Haiti to provide what assistance they can.

Airport officials say more passengers arriving in Santo Domingo these days are heading to Haiti. There have also been many more planes delivering relief supplies for Haiti this past week, since the small and damaged airport in Port-au-Prince still cannot handle the increased number of flights coming into the country.

People affiliated with big relief organizations are usually picked up by helicopter, but for others it means trying to get a lift with the ambulances returning to Haiti after rushing patients to Santo Domingo hospitals, or trying to find a space on the limited bus services going to the border area.

In the aftermath of the earthquake the Dominican Republic has opened up its border to Haitian refugees. As a result, many of the hospitals on the Dominican side of the border are now overcrowded. Many injured Haitian are receiving treatment in Dominican Republic hospitals, despite hazardous toad conditions and security.

A logistics center has been set up in the border town of Jimani to help aid groups. Land access via the Dominican Republic granted to aid groups means many trucks carrying water, food and mobile kitchens are now supplying meals to Haitians still struggling to survive.

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