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Red Cross International helps thousands in Haiti

~ Largest emergency response ever ~

GENEVA--The International Red Cross Movement has helped more than 200,000 Haiti earthquake victims thanks to contributions from millions worldwide who have committed themselves to restoring Haiti.
St. Maarten residents have contributed about US $150,000 and 43,500 pounds of food, water and medical supplies to help the struggling island rebound from a 7.0-magnitude earthquake nearly a month ago. The quake was the seventh deadliest in recorded history, according to Wikipeedia.org .
With 21 groups dispatched to Haiti, the Red Cross has deployed the most Emergency Response Units (ERUs) ever. Seventeen were dispatched to East Asia in 2004 after the December 26 tsunami.
The Red Cross said Sunday that volunteers in Haiti had distributed more than 1,000,000 litres of safe water daily through 88 outposts in Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The quake struck just miles south of Port-au-Prince on January 12, killing hundreds of thousands and leaving millions injured and homeless.
The Red Cross said 20,000 persons were getting hygienic restrooms and 300 latrines were being built. About 9,600 persons have been treated through the Red Cross.
Relief supplies from Panama's PanAmerican Disaster Relief Unit (PADRU) to Haiti reached 639 tonnes a little over two weeks after the disaster. Red Cross ERUs have collected more than 1,800 tons of relief items.
The Red Cross says it plans to continue relief work in Haiti for at least another three years, hoping to restore livelihoods to about 300,000 persons. The international community will continue to appeal for donations.

Police find eight stolen cars in Dutch Quarter

page3c223DUTCH QUARTER--Police found eight stolen SUVs, compact cars and minivans in a Dutch Quarter neighbourhood this weekend, prompting an investigation into who had stolen the cars and then left them there.
Crooks torched two luxury vehicles in the bushes between Zorg en Rust and Union Farm, leaving the burned remains of a 2008 Infinity Q45 SUV and a Suzuki Baleno, and six other cars. Police called for more help from the community to catch the crooks.
The Q45 and Baleno were worth US $45,000 and $6,000 respectively.
Police found three Kias – a Picanto, a minivan and a Rio – a Suzuki Vitara, a Daihatsu Charade and a Samsung 3M in the bushes Saturday evening. They lamented the apparent unwillingness of residents to report seeing the vehicles burning – or at least smoke and flames – in the area.
"It is very unlikely that when these two vehicles were set on fire no one in the area noticed that," police spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson said in a written statement Saturday. "It is very unfortunate that no one called the police when they saw fire and smoke in the bushes."
Arson is among the most serious of violent crimes, according to authorities. Jail time is based on the extent of damage to life and property.
Police seized the cars for the investigation. While removing the cars, persons in the area threatened the police, according to Henson. He condemned any foul language and threats against officers (see related story).
Police asked the community to report anything that might lead the thief's/thieves' capture. Persons with information can report anonymously via the 9300 tip-line or call 542-2222/24.

Frans secures year-round Brazilian airlift with GOL

page8a222BRAZIL--Commissioner of Tourism and Aviation Frans Richardson reached an agreement with GOL Airlines in Brazil on Friday for a year-round weekly flight to St. Maarten.
The agreement is seen as a major step in St. Maarten's efforts to establish itself as a year-round tourism destination.
While Richardson and Tourist Bureau head Regina Labega were hoping for a twice-weekly flight, the commissioner said he was still ecstatic about the additional airlift. He also noted that the seasonal charter flight would continue.
The agreement means that St. Maarten will have two flights out of Brazil in the high season and one in the off season. The GOL flight will be via Bogotá, Colombia, to St. Maarten.
The end of March 2010 has been tentatively identified as the start date of the new service using a 737 or 767 aircraft. Should the weekly flight prove successful for GOL and the destination, Richardson will meet with GOL executives again in an effort to add a second weekly flight.
GOL will be seeking assistance from St. Maarten in marketing the flight aggressively to ensure its success. When airlines start servicing an island, Richardson explained, they tend to want to feel secure that the destination will do its share towards the success of the service.
Four major Brazilian wholesalers (travel agent firms and tourism-related companies) are now on board to strengthen promotions and representatives of Sonesta Maho Group have shown their commitment by also being present in Brazil to help secure the flight for St. Maarten. Richardson is expected to call on the private sector to do its part on his return to the island.
His week-long itinerary consisted of the launching of St. Maarten's new branding strategy in Brazil, which he said had been "very impressive to the Brazilians," meeting with Brazil's largest tour operator CVC, and a series of other meetings, including those with GOL.

US $21,500 raised in radio-thon for Haiti

page7a222PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten/Saint Martin Christian Council and St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation were able to collect US $21,500 during their "Help Haiti" radio-thon on PJD2 on January 24, surpassing their $20,000 target.
Foundation representatives handed over a symbolic cheque for the amount collected to local Red Cross representative Robert "Bobby" Velasquez. Velasquez will ensure that the funds are channelled through the Red Cross to facilitate the primary relief efforts in Haiti.
He said the local Red Cross would surpass the $150,000-plus already collected, as monetary contributions were coming in continuously. "I'm proud of the way we as a little community and island have reached out to help our neighbours, our people in need," Velasquez commented.
Having visited Haiti recently, where he was brought face-to-face with the extent of the situation, Velasquez said contributions from the local community were still very much needed, because the devastation was far from over. "Words cannot explain how devastating it is there," he said.
Pastor Wycliffe Smith of St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation, who assisted in hosting the radio-thon, suggested this contribution was a demonstration of community love in action. He said he was pleased with how the community had come together and pledged.
He said those who were not aware of the radio-thon when it took place still had come on board after the programme and had made considerable contributions. He said churches on both sides of the island and of different denominations all had supported the programme. "It was a demonstration of how churches can work together," he said.
Reverend Stephane Brooks of St. Maarten/Saint Martin Christian Council, noting the necessity to assist Haiti in its relief efforts with already half a million people said to be dead, thanked everyone for individual and organisational contributions.
Monetary donations can still be deposited in St. Maarten/Saint Martin Christian Council Scotiabank account number 111-82 or handed over to Pastor Smith at New Testament Baptist Church.

2010 number plates expected by mid-Feb

PHILIPSBURG--The 2010 number plates are expected on the island by mid-February.
Island Receiver Sherry Hazel said, recently, that once the plates are here and have been checked by the department, the public will be informed when they could collect their number plates.
She said the plates have to be checked to ensure that the entire order has arrived.
Although the public could start paying their 2010 motor vehicle tax, Hazel said motorists are still trickling in to pay. There is usually a rush to pay when the plates arrive.
By law, the deadline to pay for motor vehicle tax is February 28. However, the Island Receiver can set the date for motorists to be controlled at a later date.
Office ware supplier Firgos Paper has been awarded the bid to produce the 2010 number plates. Firgos, which had also produced the 2008 plates, submitted the second lowest bid.
Motor Vehicle Tax is NAf. 275 per annum for regular cars. The prices of the plates remain unchanged: NAf. 12.50 for vehicles, and from NAf. 10 to NAf. 7.50 for motorbikes.
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PHILIPSBURG--The 2010 number plates are expected on the island by mid-February.

  Island Receiver Sherry Hazel said, recently, that once the plates are here and have been checked by the department, the public will be informed when they could collect their number plates.

  She said the plates have to be checked to ensure that the entire order has arrived.

  Although the public could start paying their 2010 motor vehicle tax, Hazel said motorists are still trickling in to pay. There is usually a rush to pay when the plates arrive.

  By law, the deadline to pay for motor vehicle tax is February 28. However, the Island Receiver can set the date for motorists to be controlled at a later date.

  Office ware supplier Firgos Paper has been awarded the bid to produce the 2010 number plates. Firgos, which had also produced the 2008 plates, submitted the second lowest bid.

 Motor Vehicle Tax is NAf. 275 per annum for regular cars. The prices of the plates remain unchanged: NAf. 12.50 for vehicles, and from NAf. 10 to NAf. 7.50 for motorbikes.

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