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Digicel Distributes 19,000 Tents to Shelter More Than 100,000 Haitians

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Local mobile network operator, Digicel has outlined details of its plans to distribute the 19,000 six person tents which will provide shelter to more than 100,000 Haitians who are living in makeshift shelters following the January 12th earthquake which devastated Port au Prince and its surrounding areas. Distribution starts today and will be complete within a week.

Specifically designed to resist heavy rains and for extended living, the tents will be distributed through organizations which have been assisting people in securing shelter since the earthquake. They will be disbursed to individuals throughout the affected area, so that individuals can locate them where best suits their needs, for example, close to their collapsed home or to their place of work.

Digicel Haiti CEO Maarten Boute said: "We have a group of 120 volunteers made up of Digicel employees who will manage the distribution. These volunteers will be divided into groups of 40 and sub-groups of four and, over the next week, they will distribute the 19,000 tents to more than 150 organizations.

"This initiative means that 100,000 Haitians currently living on the streets with inadequate shelter or in makeshift dwellings will be housed in one of these tents which provide improved shelter until a more permanent solution is found," he continued.

Some of the organizations that will receive tents include: Red Cross Haiti, World Vision, Food for the Poor, Catholic Relief Services and the national police. According to shelter cluster figures, approximately 63,000 tents have been distributed to date. Digicel's programme will increase this number by 30%.

The tents have a 10x10-foot coated polyethylene 'bathtub' floor, separate from the tent walls -- and give protection from groundwater. The tents -- purchased from a manufacturer in the USA -- were shipped on 14 40-foot containers and arrived in Port-au-Prince earlier this month.

Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves, commented: "With the rainy season upon us, we are doing everything we can to improve conditions and give some of the one million homeless people in Port-au-Prince some dignity and protection.

"However, the situation in Haiti is still grave. While the tents we are distributing will go some way towards temporarily improving sheltered accommodations, we need more organizations from across the world to continue to step in and provide support in any way they can."

As the single largest investor in Haiti with a total investment of over USD370 million since its launch in 2006, Digicel has over two million customers in Haiti. The Digicel Haiti Relief Fund has donated USD5 million to NGOs in Haiti to support the relief efforts and to date over US$800,000 has been raised by Digicel customers across the Caribbean and Central America through a text and voice donation line. Digicel also gave each of its two million customers US$5 in free credit -- totalling USD10 million.

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Tags: digicel  port-au-prince  usa  caribbean  Haiti