JIS News

Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, has said that the agency’s post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti have been going well.
“We have been collecting quite a bit from our side (ODPEM), and from the points of collection that we’ve outlined within the parishes, and we have been packaging and distributing those to the airport for movement out to Haiti,” Mr. Jackson told JIS News on January 19.
The Director General noted that ODPEM has prioritised water, food and medical supplies for the operation.
“All the items that have gone (to Haiti) so far have been water, food and medical supplies, and we will continue to do that until we have exhausted those items before sending clothing (and other supplies),” he said.
Mr. Jackson also told JIS News that he is pleased with the nation’s response, with the agency already processing over 2,500 boxes of supplies that have been sorted, labelled and packaged.
“One could not have foreseen the kind of outpouring that occurred in terms of people bringing out items, and the volunteers coming on board and giving of their time,” he said, noting that volunteers have ranged from legal and medical personnel to students.
He lamented that the relief efforts in Haiti are progressing slowly, due to the challenges with transportation and fuel. He pointed out that the lack of fuel in Haiti has hampered the transportation of relief workers.
Mr. Jackson said he held discussions with external partners, to see how best to collaborate in facilitating the supply of fuel into Haiti to assist relief operations.
He noted that despite earlier challenges with getting supplies into Haiti, ODPEM was able to send supplies with a plane dispatched by Air Jamaica, as well as an aircraft provided by the Canadian arm forces, and by other means.
He said that the agency is currently making arrangements to ramp up its relief operations, in respect of the dispatch of items to Haiti. This is essential as Jamaica co-ordinates the response from the region.
“The regional contributions are set to kick off in the next day or two, with the departure of one vessel (with supplies) from Trinidad and Tobago and others likely to be coming via Caribbean Airlines, possibly into Jamaica,” he said.

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