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May 28, 2004

Red Cross seeks funds for Haiti and D.R.

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The Belize Red Cross has launched an appeal to help flood victims in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. More than one thousand people are reportedly dead after their houses were swept away by floods following storms that affected the island of Hispaniola last weekend. Fifteen thousand people have been left homeless. Belize Red Cross Acting Director General, Marylee Ellis, says there is good reason why Belizeans should extend a helping hand to their Caribbean neighbours.

Marylee Ellis, Acting Dir. General, Belize Red Cross

“It?s very serious at the moment, and in fact, it?s a situation that?s unfolding because all the areas have not yet been reached. In fact, most accesses by helicopter at the moment and they are using the International Force?s helicopters that were in Haiti and Ochoa helicopters, so it is quite serious. At the moment, the latest we?ve heard through the Red Cross is that five hundred and sixty-eight persons have been definitely confirmed dead in Haiti, and that that figure is rapidly rising to over five hundred in the Dominican Republic. But it is expected that probably by the end of the week, they will have possibly uncovered as many as two thousand victims. This on top of the fact that further rain is expected, so we do know that there will be more rain over the weekend. They are also expecting more mud slides, so it?s not just a matter of identifying where the dead are, but it?s also trying to ensure that those that are still alive are aware that they are still in danger and need to be out of the flood areas and landslide areas.?

?Obviously we are all a Caribbean family; we are all facing the same dangers every single year. We are heading into, as we know, June first, the hurricane season, and our vulnerability is going to increase rapidly. Usually, it?s in the later part of the year, but this side of the Caribbean is beginning to experience it earlier and earlier, so it could happen to us. But even more directly, the Dominican Republic has helped us both with Hurricane Keith and Hurricane Iris. In fact, for Hurricane Keith we had a delegate with us for over a protracted period of time, well over eight months, worked extremely hard in the area of logistics, and he was sent as the contribution of the Dominican Republic Red Cross to the Belize Red Cross. And he then returned, because he had gathered so much information and knowledge on Belize, he returned after Hurricane Iris and worked with us again then. So they have contributed through the manpower and expertise that they have in their national society.”

If you would like to contribute to the Belize Red Cross – Dominican Republic and Haiti Flood Appeal, cash donations can be made at the First Caribbean, Atlantic, Alliance, and Belize banks or directly to Belize Red Cross headquarters on Gabourel Lane.

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