Monday, February 8, 2010

The Red Cross

Posted By Stabroek staff On January 14, 2010 @ 5:21 am In Local News

Guyana has pledged US$1 million in assistance to Haiti following the major earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation on Tuesday.

President Bharrat Jagdeo made the announcement in a statement yesterday and later met with political parties, religious organisations and non-governmental organizations to coordinate a national response to aid in recovery efforts. Minister of Human Services, Priya Manickchand has been named chair of the multi-stakeholder committee.

“I am deeply shocked and saddened at the extent of the destruction caused by the catastrophic earthquake which devastated our sister nation of Haiti yesterday. The haunting images of bodies, injured persons and ruined buildings struck a chord of compassion throughout our nation for the people of Haiti”, said Jagdeo.

Haiti as the poorest country in the western hemisphere is now severely challenged to cope with this tragedy, the President added, and it needs all countries, including the small developing countries, to come to its aid urgently.

Speaking with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Manickchand said that while an assessment of the full impact of the earthquake is still to come, the need to act quickly is critical. GINA reported that the Minister noted that all parties involved in the meeting recognized the urgency of the situation. She indicated that the first meeting of the committee will be held today at the Civil Defence Commission, and stakeholders will identify the persons who will serve on the committee. The minister said that relief efforts will be two-pronged: immediate assistance will focus on relieving the ongoing human suffering while the long-term effort will seek to rebuild the country. Participants at the meeting have called on Guyanese to be forthcoming in rendering assistance to Haitians, both in financial contributions and goods.

Meantime, last evening, Manickchand, in a statement to GINA accused the local Red Cross society of attempting to “undermine” the national effort. GINA reported that the Minister expressed disappointment at a message sent by the Guyana Red Cross Society via the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) company. She said, according to GINA, that the Red Cross was present at the meeting convened by the President and despite the NGO signing on to the national effort; “it has instead sought to undermine the effort by issuing the text message appealing for help.”

“It is disappointing and sad that the Red Cross appears to be departing from this noble, patriotic decision taken today, for aid to be nationally coordinated and appears to be engaging in an attempt to stymie a national effort,” she was quoted as stating.

GINA said that Manickchand urged the society to be “guided by the understanding that divided efforts will hardly realize the level of assistance that can be provided for the people of Haiti”. Further, she urged all those who are desirous of contributing to this cause, to do so through the National Committee for Guyana’s Assistance to Haiti by calling telephone number 226 4080, GINA reported.

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