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Minister Power renews Ireland’s commitment to the people of Haiti

Emergencies, News/feature, Haiti, 2011

Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power T.D., today reiterated Ireland’s commitment to the people of Haiti on the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake which killed more than 230,000 people.

The Minister remembered the family of Andrew Grene, the Irish citizen who lost his life in the earthquake while working for the United Nations. The Department of Foreign Affairs has dedicated an annual conflict resolution scholarship to Mr Grene’s memory.  

“The Haiti earthquake was one of the single worst humanitarian crises in recent times,” Minister Power said.

Nearly a quarter of a million people lost their lives, the livelihoods of at least a million others were destroyed and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. Twelve months on the rebuilding process is only really beginning, following successive humanitarian crises in the country, including the ongoing cholera outbreak.

It is important that the international community use the anniversary as an opportunity to renew its commitment to Haiti.

I would particularly like to commemorate Andrew Grene. Andrew was a true humanitarian, who dedicated his life to helping people in the world’s poorest counties, from Ethiopia to Timor-Leste, to recover from conflict and build better lives.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has dedicated the annual Andrew Grene Conflict Resolution Scholarship Scheme in honour of his memory.  The first Andrew Grene Scholars are already making a significant contribution to research in the area of conflict resolution, and the 2011 scholars will be appointed in the coming months”.  

Minister Power recalled that the Government had pledged €13m over three years for the relief and reconstruction of Haiti, €8.6m of which was disbursed in 2010. Of this €1m was provided to a Trust Fund for the Reconstruction of Haiti, overseen by former US President Bill Clinton, with the majority of the remainder being used to address the humanitarian needs of the population.

“While the focus of the response at this point needs to be on recovery and reconstruction, it is important to keep sight of the ongoing humanitarian needs in Haiti – not least given the ongoing cholera outbreak which has claimed nearly 4000 lives. 

In this context, I would like to pay tribute to the commitment of the Irish agencies and volunteers who have worked so hard to improve lives and provide livelihoods in Haiti“.

Irish Aid carried out two airlifts of emergency supplies to Haiti in the days immediately following the earthquake. It has also funded projects working to provide water, sanitation and emergency shelter to earthquake victims, as well for the provision of safe areas in which children can be educated and receive medical attention.

Ireland has provided technical expertise via Irish Aid’s Rapid Response Corps.

12 January 2011