The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian assistance organization, announced today that it is collecting funds on a non-sectarian basis for relief efforts following the catastrophic earthquake, the worst in more than 200 years, that struck Haiti yesterday evening.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti in the wake of this overwhelming disaster, and as we did following Hurricane Gustav in 2008, JDC will leverage its strong partnerships in the region to respond quickly and compassionately to the needs of those affected,” said Steven Schwager, JDC’s Chief Executive Officer.“ Now and in the months to come, JDC will provide both immediate relief as well as long-term assistance to help the Haitian people rebuild their lives.”

JDC is conducting a full and rapid assessment of the situation on the ground, and reaching out to its network of partners to determine critical next steps based on immediate needs of the hardest-hit areas. The efforts are part of JDC’s International Development Program (IDP), which provides immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters. JDC and its partners worldwide have implemented similar relief efforts and continue to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions.