FFTP, USSOUTHCOM Partner to Send COVID-19 Vaccine Freezers to Haiti

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (June 30, 2021) Eleven ultra-low temperature freezers specially equipped to store COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in Haiti on Thursday, in partnership with U.S. Southern Command.

The government in Haiti has yet to vaccinate a single person against COVID-19 as the virus that largely spared the country last year has surged this year, according to news reports.

The charity arranged for the freezers to be picked up from a warehouse in Doral, Fla., last week and shipped to Haiti.

Food For The Poor President/CEO Ed Raine expressed gratitude for the relationship with USSOUTHCOM and said the charity is hopeful the freezers can lay the groundwork to get vaccines into Haiti.

"We distribute medical supplies and medicines on a regular basis,” Raine said. "But we’re not able to handle vaccines. We don’t have that medical capability to do it. But we’re trying to provide things like these freezers and get them there so the country has something to work from.”

A deadly spike in COVID-19 cases combined with civil unrest and violence have created a humanitarian crisis in Haiti, with hospitals either overwhelmed with patients or lacking equipment and oxygen tanks being pillaged by gangs. Families, meanwhile, are unable to buy food and basic supplies.

USSOUTHCOM is responsible for military operations within the Caribbean and Latin America, has a Public Private Cooperation Program that works to build partnerships for humanitarian and disaster relief actions. FFTP serves countries in the same geographic area, providing relief and development programs to families living in poverty.

"The combined coordination efforts between Food For The Poor and USSOUTHCOM’s Public Private Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance Program reflects the value of long-lasting partnerships and their positive impact on the health and well-being of the citizens of Haiti,” said Kevin Bostick, Deputy Director, J7/9 USSOUTHCOM.

As of Wednesday, more than 18,500 cases of COVID-19 in Haiti had been reported, according to worldometers.info.

"The U.S. is hopefully coming out of all of the problems that we’ve had. But in Haiti, it’s just getting started,” Raine said. "The country is in desperate need of help. And the COVID problem that is now surging is now something that is of paramount concern and we need to bring that awareness to everybody.”

Bishop Oge Beauvoir, Executive Director of FFTP-Haiti, said he is fearful of an outbreak of COVID-19 in the sports center in Carrefour where more than 1,000 refugees from Martissant are sheltering in close quarters after they were forced from their homes by gangs. The charity has provided food that’s being prepared by officials at the center and distributed to refugees sheltering there.

"All over the country, people are dying of COVID-19,” Beauvoir said. "The pandemic situation can get out of control at any time.”

The charity provides aid through 12 distribution centers throughout the country, working with a network of churches Beauvoir called "the backbone of Haitian society.”

Beauvoir said gang violence and roadblocks have made it difficult for the charity to transport food to distribution centers in the country’s southwestern peninsula.

"It’s a very tough situation,” Beauvoir said. "it’s very risky for our transporters.”

FFTP also is providing food, personal hygiene items, clothing and face masks to dozens of displaced people with disabilities sheltering in a church. They moved there after the place where they sought refuge following the 2010 earthquake – Camp Lapiste – was burned down by armed men last week. Caritas Port-au-Prince is coordinating with the church to distribute the items.

The charity has launched an emergency appeal to raise funds to purchase food and other critically needed supplies in Haiti such as personal protective equipment.

"We appeal to everyone’s generosity to support our work and to know that they can trust us,” Raine said. "We work through the church. We’ve got longstanding distribution and supply networks to be able to do this work. We do not underestimate all of the challenges that present themselves on a daily basis by the violence and the disruption and the barricades. We know as bad as things are today with respect to transportation and logistics, they can be improved. Things can be done. The roadblocks can be moved. We need that support as well in the country.”

There are three ways donors can help FFTP deliver aid to Haiti:

• Make a cash donation. Go to www.FoodForThePoor.org/haitirelief.

• Purchase and donate items through FFTP’s AmazonSmile Charity List:

• Bring canned goods to the charity’s Coconut Creek warehouse, 6401 Lyons Road, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. For more information on the specific items accepted, please go to www.FoodForThePoor.org/help-now/haiti-crisis/.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Michael Turnbell

Public Relations
954-427-2222 x 6054