Action of Churches Together alliance sets 'quake zone priorities

By agency reporter
January 19, 2010

The coordinator for incoming Action of Churches Together International (ACT Alliance) for Haiti has outlined urgent priorities for the huge relief operation she is about to lead. Elsa Moreno is due to arrive in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, today. She is to hold the post of Rapid Support Team coordinator of the newly-formed programme which offers ACT members support in overwhelming emergencies.

In an interview just before leaving Denmark, Elsa Moreno said that for the days to come, ACT Alliance would focus on delivering as much assistance as possible to the population in Port-au-Prince but also around the city and to other areas devastated by the earthquake. Some of the towns include those closest to the epicentre, Leogane and Petit Goave. The UN says that 80 to 90 per cent of buildings in Leogane, 19km west of Port-au-Prince, were destroyed. Petit Goave, to the west of Leogane, was also badly hit.

Elsa Moreno says ACT Alliance members have found many people have fled Port-au-Price and returned to their places of origin, putting a lot of pressure local communities to host them.

"The ACT Alliance will continuously try to assess the number of people going to those areas which are away from response of other agencies. The main work will focus on water, shelter and care for children."

This was an important time for ACT as a new alliance. The combined ACT International and ACT Development were now working collaboratively to support an emergency.

"It means that from now on we will put together two important components - emergency response and long-term development. The response is not only focused on the immediate needs, but also to help people recover in the long term and start the process for development," Elsa Moreno says.

ACT members in the country and those supporting relief efforts are reporting their arrival in Port-au-Prince. A co-ordination meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in Santo Domingo, where a hub office is proposed. The next scheduled teleconference update of members on the ground or responding directly is Wednesday 1500GMT +1. ACT Alliance will provide members with situation reports every two days, as well as communications updates whenever possible.

The ACT Alliance has five members with offices in Port-au-Prince:

Christian Aid - CA
Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe – DKH
Lutheran World Federation – LWF
Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation – ICCO
United Methodist Committee on Relief – UMCOR

Nine other members are supporting the relief operation:

Norwegian Church Aid - NCA
DanChurchAid - DCA
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance - PDA
Finnchurchaid - FCA
Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicana - SSID
Church World Service - CWS
Lutheran World Relief - LWR
Church of Sweden - CoS
International Orthodox Church Charities - IOCC

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