An urgent aid shipment containing 4,000 tents and more than 300 family survival kits has just docked at the Haitian coastal town of Jacmel.
Jacmel, 30 miles southwest of Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince, has been devastated by the recent earthquake with more than 350 people reported to have been killed and many more injured. Preliminary assessments estimate that 60 percent of buildings were damaged or destroyed.
An emergency response team from Plan International, a child-centered development organization, which has worked with Haitian communities for more than 35 years, is actively assessing the immediate needs of the population, many of whom are still camping out in the streets.
Plan International spokesperson Stuart Coles, who arrived in Jacmel after an arduous 12-hour journey from Port-au-Prince by road, said the race was on to get aid to those who were most in need.
"As Jacmel is on the coast, it is easier to get aid in than it is in Port-au-Prince. The quake has destroyed or damaged most buildings here, but mercifully the death count is lower than it is in the capital," he said.
"The equipment coming off the boat will make a real difference. There are tents, food, clean water and family packs. The packs contain such things as soap, towels, flashlights, batteries, cups, diapers, and toilet paper.
"It gets quite cold during the night here and many of the children are now developing coughs and respiratory problems," Coles added. He also said: "Diarrhea is also becoming much more common. These seem simple ailments but can quickly become very serious in these situations."
Children are especially vulnerable after disasters of this magnitude, especially in poor countries such as Haiti, where, prior to the earthquake, one in five children had been suffering from stunted growth due to poor nutrition.
A ten-strong team of Plan aid workers conducted an assessment in two areas in Jacmel on Sunday, Raquitte and Camp Siloe, focusing on shelter, water, sanitation, food security, and health needs. Special attention is being paid to child protection, which is Plan's top priority in all crisis situations.
It is vital that the youngest survivors of this tragedy have access to food, clean water, emergency health care, safe shelter, and psychosocial support. Temporary schools will also likely be needed in the medium-term to help give children a much-needed sense of stability.
Globally Plan has raised over US $5 million for the emergency relief effort.
Plan USA supporters have donated approximately $300,000 online for Plan's emergency appeal, and along with Plan Dominican Republic, helped coordinate a grant of approximately $48,000 with USAID for the relief efforts.