Government freights consignment of emergency supplies to Haiti

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Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, today announced that the Government is to freight 85 tonnes of emergency supplies to Haiti as part of the international aid effort.

The Government supplies will be given to Concern and Goal for distribution to 8,000 families. The consignment includes mosquito nets, essential plastic sheeting for shelter and water tanks.

Commenting on the consignment, Minister Power said:

"It is essential that these important supplies reach the people of Haiti as quickly as possible. The fastest way in is by air. They are being drawn from Ireland's pre-positioned stockpiles and are expected to arrive in Haiti in the coming days. The fact that we can respond so quickly is evidence of the lessons we learned as a result of our engagement with the Asian tsunami in 2004.

"This consignment is a key component of the Government's urgent and focused response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti and shows the importance having pre-positioned supplies and funding in place to allow us to respond swiftly.

"The families whose lives are in turmoil as a result of this terrible disaster desperately need shelter and water. We are working closely with our partners in Concern and Goal to deliver this aid quickly and effectively on behalf of the Irish people, who have always shown such generosity towards those in need," Minister Power said.

He also announced that three members of Ireland's Rapid Response Corps will deploy to Haiti over the coming days, while other members remain on standby as necessary.

"Two Corps members, an electrical engineer and an IT expert, will work with the World Food Programme to bolster the international response to the disaster. The third Corps member is a Defence Forces' engineer who is a UN-trained disaster expert.

"Highly-skilled specialists are crucial to the rescue and recovery effort and I am confident that the three Corps members will play a vital role over the days and weeks to come. I have requested that other specialists in the Corps remain on standby for swift deployment as necessary and as conditions allow," he said.

Minister Power also announced that he will travel to Brussels on Monday to participate in an emergency meeting of EU Development Ministers which has been convened by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

"It is vital that the EU works together to mobilise our resources in a coordinated and focused manner to do all we can to alleviate the terrible suffering of the Haitian people," Minister Power said.

Ireland allocated €20 million of pre-positioned funding to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund in 2009, which is being drawn down to support the UN response in Haiti. In addition, the Government this week pledged €2m in additional emergency funding, which is being channelled through the United Nations and Irish aid agencies working in the region.

Minister Power added: "In addition, a small Irish Aid technical mission will travel to Haiti in the coming days to assess the immediate needs of the Haitian people and identify short-term gaps in the overall response. They will be accompanied by a Defence Forces' engineer who is a UN-trained disaster expert.

"They will also examine the medium to longer-term requirements in terms of recovery and rehabilitation and liaise with the United Nations, other international donors and our NGO partners on the ground."

Note for Editors

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.irishaid.gov.ie