Brussels, 10 January 2012 - On the eve of the second anniversary of the earthquake that struck Haiti, the European Commission launches today in Port-au-Prince a new housing programme to repair and rebuild safe homes to the benefit of more than 60 000 displaced people. This new €23 million programme will be implemented together with local communities, the municipalities and the Haitian Ministry for Public Works. It is a part the part of the European Commission's action to support the country to recover from the disaster which claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people and affected 3 million others. The two years that followed the earthquake were no less challenging – Haiti was affected by Hurricane Tomas and is suffering from the worst cholera epidemics of the past century. The years ahead will not be easy either, but the long-term goals of stability and development are still fully valid to address Haiti's situation.
The European Union has been among the first, the most generous and the most efficient donors of aid and civil protection support to Haiti in the past two years. Its assistance aims both to bring immediate relief to Haitians and to ensure long-term recovery of their country. To date, Europeans' solidarity has alleviated the suffering of 5 million people in Haiti, has prevented the crisis from deteriorating further and has limited the disaster's twin side-effects: cholera and malnutrition.
At present, the European Commission focuses its support on building strong links between relief, rehabilitation and development, most notably by ensuring the functioning of the State, improving education, health services and civil security, rebuilding roads, shelters and other vital infrastructure, and stimulating the local economy.
Looking back to the challenges of bringing relief to Haiti and supporting its recovery during that past two years, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, stated: "On this second anniversary of the 2010 earthquake, I would like to praise the bravery and determination of the Haitian people in getting their country back on its feet. I am pleased that the most acute humanitarian problems have been tackled, but I am fully aware that difficult reconstruction challenges remain. I hope that the establishment of the new administration under President Martelly and Prime Minister Conille will mark the beginning of a period of political stability and economic growth. This is essential for the success of the reconstruction process. We will continue to work with our Haitian friends, with EU Member States and our international partners to improve infrastructure, assist the economic recovery, and support improved governance and the consolidation of Haitian democracy and State institutions."
EU Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgssaid: "Two years after the terrible earthquake, the reconstruction of Haiti is and will remain a priority in our agenda. When I met Prime Minister Conille during the European Development Days few weeks ago, I was pleased to see that we share a common ambition for the future of the country. Rebuilding the roads, homes, public buildings, schools for the hundreds of thousands of families who were left homeless, may seem like a Herculean task but ambitious projects are already making a difference on the ground; providing better access to education, more secure livelihoods; improving the quality of the roads and stimulating local economy."
He added: "I will visit Haiti later this year, notably to inaugurate a training centre and the rehabilitation of the main road. We will also carry on providing active support to the State's efforts to maintain social, health and education services for the people of Haiti and put the country on the road of economic development"
The European Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response – Kristalina Georgieva, said: "Haiti's earthquake caused tremendous suffering - but it also triggered an unmatched support from all over the world.
Europe was there on Day One. Less than 24 hours after the earthquake struck, the Commission deployed humanitarian and civil protection experts and mobilised emergency assistance. And we will remain there as long as there are people who need our help.
Today still half a million Haitians live in camps and cholera persists. More importantly, we recognise that Haiti will remain vulnerable to natural disasters, like hurricanes, floods and landslides, and are committed to help the communities we work with to boost their disaster resilience."
During the last two years, the EU has been providing both humanitarian assistance and development aid to rebuild Haiti. The EU is the largest donor to the country: it pledged €1.2 billion to assist Haitian government in all areas over both the short and the long-term. The Commission alone pledged €522 million and has committed more than €358 million.
EU Member States have pledged a total of €201 million in emergency relief, while the European Commission has given €158.5 million in humanitarian aid throughout 2010 and 2011. In 2012 the Commission has set aside €15.25 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti.
Fact sheet "Haiti two years on" and other press materials available here:
Website of the European Union External Action Service
Website of DG Development and Cooperation – EuropeAid
Website of DG Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response
Website of the EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs
Website of the EU Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva
Website of the EU Delegation in Haiti: