Aid pours into Haiti: An update

Locals pull out a body from the rubble of a collapsed school in the aftermath of the potent earthquake that devastated Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, on Jan. 12. Photo by: Marco Dormino/United Nations.

Kei Jinnai cut short a reporter’s phone call Friday. “I’m so sorry,” the disaster relief specialist said gently, but decisively. “I’m quite busy in operations and preparing work for Haiti. Time is very precious.”

Indeed. Like many aid workers, Kei, who serves as director of training in the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Secretariat of Japan Disaster Relief Team, is involved in one of the world’s largest relief efforts in years.

It is hard to track just how much money has been pledged, donated and delivered in the aftermath of the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti’s capital Tuesday. By Friday night, more than $302 million had been pledged by bilateral and multilateral donors; flash appeals totaled $562.06 million.

These figures are expected to increase by the hour as more aid - financial and in-kind - continues to pour in from around the globe. Relief workers are arriving from abroad.

Many of the organizations providing aid to Haiti were affected by the earthquake, some more than others. The United Nations mission in Haiti lost at least 36 of its staff with 200 more, including Hedi Annabi, the U.N. mission chief, still missing.

IMA World Health President and CEO Richard Santos, meanwhile, has been found after being trapped under the Hotel Montana ruins for 50 hours. Santos was reported missing on Jan. 15 along with five local staff.

A breakdown of communication infrastructure in the disaster zone is complicating the coordinated aid delivery, many international aid officials note.

United Nations

The U.N. is expected to make an official appeal for $550 million on Jan. 16. Various U.N. agencies are already on the ground, even as they wait for the appeal and response from the international community.

Relief supplies from the U.N. Children’s Fund have landed in the Dominican Republic and were expected to cross into Haiti on Jan. 15, UNICEF’s communication chief in the Philippines, Angela Travis, told Devex. These supplies include water purification tablets, oral rehydration salts, tarpaulins and tents for temporary housing.

Another ship of supplies was expected to arrive in Haiti the same day from UNICEF’s supply hub in Panama, according to Travis.

UNICEF is funding several projects in Haiti, mostly focusing on health, water and sanitation, education and child protection. All of its field staff have been accounted for, but concerns remain about other colleagues.

The U.N. Development Program, meanwhile, dispatched on Jan. 14 a team of technical experts to help accelerate U.N. operations on the ground.

The agency was “gradually restoring Internet access and the satellite phone system,” UNDP Haiti Resident Representative Kim Bolduc said in a press statement.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Edmond Mulet, a former head of the U.N. mission in Haiti, landed in Port-au-Prince Jan. 14 to direct the organization’s operations there.


Spain’s Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez announced in a Jan. 15 press conference that the Spanish government and the Pan American Health Organization are donating 2.79 million euros in medical aid. Of that amount, 500,000 euros will be for trauma treatment and another 500,000 euros for medicines. The rest will be used to buy supply for surgical teams, field clinics, and epidemic containment teams on the ground.

Spain’s development and cooperation agency, AECID, is planning its seventh aid flight Jan. 16. Soraya Rodriguez, the country’s state secretary for cooperation, said the flight will bring medical aid for hospitals and clinics in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where patients from Haiti are being taken for treatment.

Spain is funding a number of water and infrastructure projects in Haiti, in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank. Information on these projects and its staff was unavailable at press time.

United Kingdom

The first team of humanitarian experts sent by the Department for International Development arrived in Port-au-Prince Jan. 14 around 7 p.m. local time, said DfID press officer Ed Hawkesworth in an e-mail to Devex. A second team of 64 medical and rescue experts, geared with heavy lifting equipment, was on the way to the city’s Carrefour district Friday, Hawkesworth added. DfID has a press officer on the ground working closely with the deployed teams.

DfID previously pledged an aid package of $10 million, of which $1.6 million has now been given to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The U.K. is not involved in development work in Haiti, but Hawkesworth noted that DfID is prepared to help with long-term recovery efforts.

European Union

The European Commission has so far committed 3 million euros to support multisectoral humanitarian assistance of Haiti’s earthquake victims. Drawn from the EU’s general budget, the three-month aid package covers emergency food assistance, water and sanitation supplies, access to primary health care and disease control, non-food items, emergency telecommunications, the emergency rehabilitation of shelter and logistics.

Operations will be channeled through U.N. humanitarian agencies and the Red Cross, among other organizations working on the ground in Haiti.

Between 2008 to early 2009, the European Community Humanitarian Office has given more than 26 million euros in emergency and non-emergency aid to the country.


Norway is donating 40 million Norwegian kroner ($4.94 million) to relief efforts in Haiti. Of the sum, 7 million kroner was allocated for a Norwegian Red Cross field hospital sent to Haiti on Jan. 14, while 10 million kroner each went to Norwegian Church Aid and the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund. The remaining amount is being shared by the Norwegian Refugee Council and Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning.


China is sending a chartered flight with $4.4 million worth of medicines, food, tents, clothing, water, emergency lights and other emergency materials. The plane will leave Beijing on the morning of Jan. 16 local time, the country’s ministry of commerce said in a statement. The Chinese Red Cross Society pledged $1 million in emergency relief.

Meanwhile, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on Jan. 15 that the country is donating $5 million in cash. He did not elaborate on who would receive the money.

For its part, JICA has committed $5 million, which had at press time yet to be approved for release. The agency already has an assessment team in the Dominican Republic that planned to travel to Haiti on Jan. 15 with two staff from its office in the Dominican Republic.

Jinnai said Friday that $300,000 worth in shelter supplies and other relief goods was waiting to be moved from Miami to Haiti. JICA, he said, was also planning to dispatch a medical team upon approval of Japan’s ministry of foreign affairs.

United States

President Barack Obama has pledged $100 million on January 14. ReliefWeb’s Financial Tracking Service reports that approximately $55 million has already been formally committed.

The U.S. Agency for International Development announced on Jan. 14 that it would provide $18 million worth of food aid, enough to feed more than 1 million people for two weeks. (Thrice as many Haitians are believed to be affected by the quake.) The food aid will be sourced from Jacinto, Texas, and given to the U.N. World Food Program and private volunteer groups.

The U.S. has long been Haiti’s biggest donor. In 2009, Haiti received approximately $63.7 million in food aid from the USAID “Food for Peace” program.


Australia provided an assistance package of 10 million Australian dollars that was distributed among different international relief organizations. Claire Dennis, a media officer at the agency, said there is no talk yet about pooling more resources to augment this aid package. There was also no comment from the agency regarding its plans for long-term development assistance. Australia does not have ongoing development programs on the Caribbean island nation. It has provided emergency aid in the past.

International nonprofits

Catholic Relief Services, which uses a warehouse in Port-au-Prince, was one of the first one the scene. CRS Senior Communications Manager Tom Price said the organization was able to deploy relief goods to affected areas “almost immediately.” On Jan. 14, CRS received a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its Haiti relief operations.

CRS will participate in long-term recovery and reconstruction initiatives in Haiti, Price said.

CHF International, another nonprofit working on the ground in Haiti, plans to build large and comfortable sanitary shelters that could withstand storms and earthquakes.

The organization has 170 staff in Haiti, all of which have been accounted for. On Friday, CHF International was still assessing the basic needs of earthquake victims, but planned to deploy experts and volunteers shortly.

Communication Manager David Humphries said there was “no problem” getting to Haiti from the Dominican Republic. A Port-au-Prince airport control tower, however, was having problems, and planes face the possibility of fuel shortage.

Jemila Abdulai, Kristine Ballad, Tiziana Cauli and Rizza Leonzon contributed reporting.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.