Haiti

Government approves €600,000 in emergency funding to the UN to respond to Haitian disaster

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Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power TD today approved €600,000 in funding for the World Food Programme and to assist the United Nations in providing vital coordination to the rescue and relief effort.

The funding will support the urgent transport of goods, personnel and food in Haiti and assist the UN agency which is charged with coordinating the overall humanitarian response to the earthquake.

Announcing the funding, Minister Power said:

"The devastation wrought by the earthquake of January 12 is one of the worst disasters to which the international community has ever responded. While the death toll continues to mount, the latest estimates are that in excess of 100,000 people have lost their lives, while many hundreds of thousands more are seriously injured.

"The UN has reported that the earthquake damaged or destroyed as many as 50 percent of buildings in the most affected areas. Immediate priorities include the provision of emergency medial assistance to the acutely-injured and the urgent supply of essential food, clean water, sanitation and shelter to the tens of thousands who have been left homeless.

"The funding of €600,000 which I authorised today will support the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to get the skilled personnel and the essential food and humanitarian supplies to the people who so desperately need them.

"The main challenge facing humanitarian agencies at this point is one of logistics. I have authorised €300,000 to support the World Food Programme, which is taking the lead among UN agencies in transporting goods and personnel and supplying food, a task which is vital as the days pass and what little food people had is used up," Minister Power said.

"The Government is also providing €300,000 to OCHA, which is charged with the overall coordination of UN agencies and NGOs working in Haiti. They are tasked with ensuring that aid reaches those who need it most quickly and effectively, " Minister Power said.

This latest funding is in response to the UN's Flash Appeal and forms part of the €2m pledged by the Government to the Haiti response. Funding is also being disbursed through Irish agencies working on the ground.

Three highly-skilled members of Ireland's Rapid Corps have also been deployed to Haiti and others are on standby and are expected to be called upon over the coming days and weeks.

In addition, a consignment of more than 80 tonnes of essential humanitarian supplies is currently en route to Haiti. This is one of the largest consignments of humanitarian supplies ever provided directly by Ireland.

Last year, Ireland contributed €20 million to the United Nation's disaster relief fund, which the UN is drawing upon in response to the Haiti crisis.

Note for Editors

Ireland has committed €2 million in direct funding to respond to the Haitian disaster. This is being channelled through the United Nations and Irish agencies working on the ground. The funding to the WFP and OCHA announced today is drawn from the €2 million. Some €250,000 has also been paid to the International Federation of the Red Cross to provide emergency medical care, shelter supplies and water and sanitation equipment. Irish Aid is also working in close contact with Irish NGOs Concern and Goal in Haiti.

Ireland committed €20m to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in 2009. The CERF provides rapid funding to emergencies and disasters such as that in Haiti. Ireland is the 7th largest contributor having committed €73m since 2006. Irish Aid also pre-positions emergency funding with NGO partners such as Goal, Concern and Trócaire in order to allow for quick disbursal in emergency situations.

The Irish Rapid Response Corp consists of 130 personnel with specialised skills in areas such as logistics, engineering and public health, which can prove vital in responding to emergency and humanitarian situations. In addition, Irish Aid has pre-positioned emergency supplies such as tents, blankets and water and sanitation equipment in depots around the globe which can be called upon in an emergency.

In 2009, Irish Aid allocated funding of approximately €1 million to civil society partners working in Haiti. This included more than €900,000 to Concern, and smaller amounts to missionary personnel. Haiti is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, and Irish Aid has responded to a number of emergency situations in the past, including a devastating series of hurricanes in 2008.

For further information, please contact Fionnuala Quinlan, press officer, Irish Aid, the Department of Foreign Affairs on 01-4082653 or 087-9099975. For further information on the Government's overseas aid programme, visit www.dfa.ie and www.irishaid.gov.ie

ENDS

19 January 2010

Press Office