As of Monday morning, the Costa Rican Red Cross had collected ¢ 130 million (close to $235,000) to help relief efforts in Haiti, the humanitarian aid organization said in a news release. In spite of a temporary suspension by the United Nations of all aid efforts in Haiti on Monday, the institute said it will continue to accept donations.
The group is channeling the funds to Haiti through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (FICR). Money will be used to help Red Cross teams from around the globe assist the island nation with health services, water and food supplies, search and rescue missions, evacuation shelters and temporary housing construction and telecommunications.
This weekend the Costa Rican Red Cross sent nine rescue specialists to Haiti. The National Emergency Commissions sent a team of 55 engineers, rescuers and health experts to help earthquake victims. Costa Rica´s National Police also sent search and rescue personnel to Haiti.
On Monday, however, the United Nations ordered the suspension of all relief operations because of social unrest that has sprung to life in the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince. Members of the CNE relief team reported that, during rescue missions, bands of people surrounded search brigades and demanded – at times violently – water, food and permanent shelter. News agencies on Monday began to report cases of looting and fierce violence throughout Haiti´s capital city on Monday.
Costa Rican aid crews camped out in the Port-Au-Prince International Airport with relief squads from nine other countries representing Europe, Africa and the Americas. On Monday evening, groups from the 43 countries conducting relief missions in Haiti waited for the anxiety to settle in hopes of continuing rescue work soon.
Before the suspension order, Costa Rica´s CNE teams had entered 176 collapsed structures and removed 10 cadavers.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross will keep open its bank accounts at Banco Nacional and Banco de Costa Rica for donations to assist relief efforts once work resumes. The Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) has set up a system to donate by cell phone text message to the Red Cross.
The FICR is asking for donations totaling $103 million, which they believe will be able to support 300,000 Haitians for three years.
Donors can take non-perishable food items and toiletries to the Red Cross headquarters in San José, 200 meters south of the Hospital San Juan de Dios. Officials recommend items such as canned foods, snacks, baby food, toilet paper, tampons and soap. As of 3 p.m. on Monday, the Red Cross had collected nearly 5 tons of supplies. The donation center will be open until January 31. The United Nations will deliver the goods to Haiti.
See The Tico Times´ How to Help Haiti page for a list of organizations that are collecting funds for Haitian relief efforts.