Unloading a cargo flight at the Port Au Prince airport

If your organization has collected donations of medical supplies, food, clothes and protection for the upcoming rainy season, you might wonder how to get it into Haiti and distributed to the intended recipients. The majority of the injured and now homeless Haitian population is living in and around Port-au-Prince. There are several ways to get help into the area:

- by plane to Port-au-Prince: Haiti has one functional airport, in Port-au-Prince. This airport is supervised by the US military and a combination of other military units and non-governmental organizations. According to a recent article in the New York Times civil flights are generally allowed to land in Port Au Prince if they bring supplies and aid workers:

David Searby, a public affairs officer working from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince explained in an e-mail message on Wednesday: "The U.S. Government is working with hundreds of U.N., NGO and international partners. In many cases this support includes transportation of personnel and the much needed relief and medical supplies to various distribution points.

"All U.N., NGO, and international partners capable of advancing the humanitarian relief efforts to meet the priorities set out by the Government of Haiti in response to the January 12 earthquake are given a slot to off-load cargo, supplies or personnel."

Over the past three weeks, the Church of Scientology sent three charter flights and actor John Travolta also arranged two flights to land in Port-au-Prince, to bring supplies and aid workers to the country. Landing slots are tight and from our experience planes are not permitted to stay on the ground for long--  two or three hours at the most before they have to return to the United States. 

- by bus from the Dominican Republic: Commercial flights from the United States to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (cost around $200 per person from Miami or Fort Lauderdale). Regular bus service from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince has been reinstated but due to very high fuel costs the bus ticket are from $40 to $70. The bus ride takes about eight hours and this is only feasible for individual aid workers or small groups.

- by truck from the Dominican Republic: Truck or car rental is possible in the Dominican Republic and allows for bigger loads of supplies to be transported to Port-au-Prince. The United Nations is providing a military escort from the border between the D.R. and through Haiti to Port-au-Prince. Depending on the traffic this ride takes 5 hours or so and it is recommended to start in the morning. Curfews in Port-au-Prince have been implemented occasionally in the past weeks during which time no driving on public street is possible between 7pm to 7am. Plan to reach your destination before 7pm.

- by cargo ship: Cargo ship lines are open though strictly regulated due to damage to the main piers of the port of Port-au-Prince . A cargo ship rented in Miami can transport many tons of supplies and large groups of people, though it takes  four days from Miami to Port-au-Prince.

We are currently planning to send cargo ships and additional charter flights. If you are interested in helping with donations, supplies or professional medical services, please contact us at vm@volunteerministers.org