Capital launches appeal for quake-stricken Haiti

An urgent appeal has been launched today (15 January) to raise funds for the island nation of Haiti after it was struck by a severe 7.3 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of people are feared to have died and many more have been left injured, traumatised and homeless. Basic services and communications have collapsed, any hospitals that are still standing are overwhelmed and survivors are increasingly vulnerable to disease, hunger and dehydration.

The Edinburgh Disaster Response Committee is calling on people in the city to donate to the appeal via Mercy Corps to help survivors of the disaster.

John Cunningham, spokesman for Mercy Corps said: "This is a disaster of quite unimaginable magnitude. Many people have perished and many those who were lucky enough to survive now find themselves in the most desperate of situations.

"There is an immediate need for funds to enable us to deliver basic essentials like food, water and shelter. Getting boots on the ground and aid to survivors in the first few days is absolutely critical in terms of minimising further casualties and beginning the helping people get back on to their feet."

Edinburgh's Lord Provost, George Grubb, who chairs the Edinburgh Disaster Committee, said: "I'm pleased to have seen very quick action from the government and aid agencies to deal with the immediate impact of this disaster.

"For our part, we will be looking to the longer-term and trying to provide assistance for the rebuilding of those communities devastated by the earthquake. Our staff and people in the Edinburgh area have a long and proud tradition of reaching out to those in less fortunate circumstances. I'm sure they will act with the same compassion and generosity in response to this tragedy."

Mercy Corps has deployed an emergency response team to Haiti. The team is comprised of experts who have responded to devastating disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Wenchuan earthquake in China and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

Randy Martin, Mercy Corps' Director of Global Emergency Operations said: "Initial reports indicate massive damage and widespread casualties. Our team will quickly assess what the most pressing needs are in earthquake-affected areas and develop an appropriate response to help survivors."

The team will also focus on Mercy Corps' strength: Helping communities rapidly transition from immediate relief to long-term rebuilding and recovery efforts. Mercy Corps has a long track record of helping people in the world's hardest places recover from natural disasters and conflict.

The Edinburgh Disasters Response Committee was set up by Mercy Corps and City of Edinburgh Council in 2009. The Committee works in association with other city organisations to co-ordinate fundraising across Edinburgh (and East Central Scotland) to deliver a more effective humanitarian response to the survivors of major disasters.

Appeals initiated by the arrangement with Mercy Corps are not intended to be exclusive routes for giving by either Council staff or members of the public. The arrangement also does not preclude the Council working with any other charities. Any communications from will make clear that there may be other ways of giving, e.g. through other charities.

Haiti:

A powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 12. Powerful aftershocks, some measuring as high as 5.9, have been shaking the earthquake zone for the past day. With communications from the area disrupted, the situation is unclear though the quake reportedly collapsed buildings, including at least one hospital.Eyewitnesses report extensive damage and chaos, and there are fears of widespread casualties. The earthquake exacerbates an already dire humanitarian situation in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Plagued by hunger and political instability, this disaster will increase the needs of many impoverished families.

Mercy Corps:

Mercy Corps has a long history of helping earthquake survivors. We aided families after earthquakes in Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year.

Mercy Corps helps people in the world's toughest places turn the crises of natural disaster, poverty and conflict into opportunities for progress. Driven by local needs and market conditions, our programs provide communities with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. Our worldwide team of 3,700 professionals is improving the lives of 14.5 million people in more than 40 countries.

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