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International Red Cross Staffers Vaccinate Residents in Haiti Quake Camp

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Haitians, both children and adults, in the country's largest quake camp are receiving vaccination from Red Cross staffers from seven countries.

More Haitians keep arriving in the La Piste camp located in the former airport of Port-au-Prince, according to Red Cross officials. The camp already holds some 30,000 quake refugees.

"There are people arriving daily," said Marie Claude Elie, a Canadian nurse who is in charge of setting up a Red Cross site at the La Piste camp. "There had been 1,000 or 2,000; then suddenly it was 10,000 and now 30,000. We are aiming at 80-percent coverage of people living here."

The Red Cross staffers are vaccinating La Piste residents against diphtheria, whooping cough, rubella and measles.

The Canadian nurse added that she had observed increasing outbreaks of diseases among camp residents due to unhygienic conditions.

"People are suffering skin rashes, diarrhoea and malnutrition," she said. "Malnutrition is something that comes alongside diarrhoea."

The oldest resident at the camp to receive vaccination so far is 79 years old while the youngest nine months old, added Elie.

Children at the camp also receive vitamin A reinforcement while adults receive vaccination against tetanus.

"Haitians are amazing. They always face up to circumstances," Elie said. "They always have smiles and they always keep going," she said.

Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive told the press on Tuesday that the nation is facing a gigantic task for which it was not prepared. The task includes housing all those who have been made homeless and providing sanitation and other services in order to prevent citizens from falling victim to diseases before longer-term accommodation can be found.

The United Nations Children's Fund warned on Tuesday that Haiti is at risk of a second disaster after the January 12 earthquake which has so far claimed the lives of more than 210,000 people and rendered more than 1 million others homeless in the Caribbean island nation.

The UN body issued the warning based on the country's existing food shortages, low income and high unemployment.

(Xinhua News Agency February 10, 2010)

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