Switzerland has sent six experts and set aside CHF2 million ($2 million) to help the survivors of Hurricane Matthew, which has devastated the Caribbean island of Haiti.
Thousands of inhabitants have been left homeless and the number of victims is rising - by Friday afternoon it stood at more than 300 according to officials - after the powerful storm slammed into the island on Tuesday.
Switzerland sent six experts from its Humanitarian Aid Unit to Haiti early this morning, a foreign ministry statement said on Friday.
“They are experts in emergency shelter, water and sanitation, logistics and security. They will be accompanied by a representative of the Swiss Red Cross,” the statement explained.
At the same time, an expert has arrived in neighbouring Dominican Republic to buy emergency supplies that are needed in Haiti.
The team will work closely with the Swiss representation in Port-au-Prince to coordinate Swiss assistance with the Haitian authorities and local partners (non-governmental organisations, embassies). It should then be able to carry out emergency aid and early recovery measures.
As Haiti is one of the priority countries of the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC), the organisation already had several experts in the field which it has been able to mobilise, the statement continued. Thus, two mobile water treatment units have been deployed in the affected areas helping to distribute clean water to around 12,000 people. Extra measures will be added as the need arises.
“A budget amounting to CHF2 million has been reserved as a first step to cover the first measures undertaken and eventual contributions to partners in the field,” the foreign ministry said.
Across Haiti, there are some 350,000 people in need of assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which has its headquarters in Geneva, has launched an emergency appeal for $6.9 million (CHF6.8 million) "to provide medical, shelter, water and sanitation assistance to 50,000 people".
Most of the deaths in Haiti were around the southern coast, with many killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers.
Category Three Matthew, with sustained winds of 193km/hour, is now heading up the coastline of the United States state of Florida but has not made landfall. It is not yet clear whether it will do so.