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Ireland is making a difference in Haiti says Minister for Overseas Development, Mr Peter Power

The Minister for Overseas Development, Mr Peter Power, T.D., has called for a renewed international effort to support the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 12 January.

Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Port-au-Prince today, Minister Power paid tribute to the efforts of the Haitian people and international aid agencies who are working tirelessly in advance of the hurricane season in Haiti.

“An enormous amount has been achieved in a relatively short period of time,” Minister Power said.

“I was shocked by the scale of the destruction. We have all seen the images of the Presidential Palace in ruins and of the tent cities which are housing hundreds of thousands of families.

“But it is only when you see it at first-hand that the enormity of the task becomes clear. Haiti was literally reduced to rubble by the earthquake and, in a very real sense, the Haitian people are re-founding their country and society.”

Minister Power visited a number of camps during his visit, including one in the former national stadium in which Irish aid agency Concern is using Irish Government funding to provide basic water and sanitation facilities to more than 20,000 people.

“I was moved by the plight of the thousands of people living under tarpaulin in the Port-au-Prince stadium,” said the Minister. “The conditions are extremely difficult. There is a complete lack of facilities; of privacy; of any of the things we take for granted in our daily lives. But in spite of that, the residents have immense dignity and incredible resilience and good humour.”

During his visit Minister Power met a wide range of United Nation agencies, aid agencies and other humanitarian groups. He also met the Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to discuss the Haitian Government’s plans for the reconstruction of the country.

Immediately prior to the visit, he met the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, former US President Bill Clinton. He also met members of Irish Aid’s Rapid Response Corps who are providing valuable specialised skills to UN agencies in Haiti.

Ireland has pledged 13 million to support the relief and reconstruction effort in Haiti and is one of the largest per capita donors to the impoverished Caribbean country.

Notes to the editor

  • Minister Power spent July 5and 6, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • Photos are by Andrés Martínez Casares. There is no reproduction fee.
  • Ireland’s pledge of €13 million will be disbursed over three years. It will support the Haitian Government’s plan for reconstruction, which draws on the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment carried out by the UN, EU, World Bank and others in consultation with civil society, NGOs and the private sector.
  • Almost €1 million will go towards cancellation of Haiti’s debt to the World Bank. The debt cancellation will be implemented via a new dedicated debt relief trust fund set up at the World Bank’s Development Association. 
  • The pledge of €13 million includes the €4 million already provided to Haiti. This is made up of almost €3 million in direct emergency funding to UN agencies and Irish NGOs including Concern, Haven, World Vision, Plan Ireland and Goal. It also includes two consignments of 130 tonnes of emergency supplies of shelter and sanitation equipment which were distributed by Concern, Goal and Trocaire on the ground.
  • Ireland contributed €20 million to the United Nation's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in 2009 and a total of €73 million since it was set up in 2006 following the Asian Tsunami. The CERF provides immediately-accessible funds to the UN for use in a crisis such as that in Haiti. Ireland is the seventh largest donor to this fund. This funding was drawn upon in the wake of the Haitian earthquake.
  • Five members of Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps remain on the ground in Haiti. Four others have returned home, having completed their deployment.