Paris, 14 January
"If ever there were a time for the international community to show solidarity, it is now. I issue this appeal to all sectors of society - governments, foundations and other donors, individuals. Haiti needs immediate, massive and well-integrated relief aid," said Irina Bokova at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on Thursday.
While emergency rescue efforts are the first priority, UNESCO is preparing an action plan for rapid intervention to reactivate education provision. The destruction of the university in Port-au-Prince and of numerous secondary and primary schools in Tuesday's earthquake, and the human loss of teachers and students, is a catastrophic set-back for a country already hit by other disasters.
"Education is at the core of Haiti's recovery and is the key to Haiti's development. We are determined to mobilize support for temporary emergency educational facilities and for reconstruction. I also urge academia to show solidarity. Universities in the region and beyond should make every effort to take in Haitian students," said Irina Bokova. The Director-General is sending a special envoy with extensive experience of Haiti, Bernard Hadjadj, from UNESCO Headquarters to Port-au-Prince to assess immediate needs.
The United Nations agencies work in close coordination and are drawing up a consolidated UN assistance programme. Within this framework, UNESCO is seeking to ensure that education is given the priority it believes to be critical for the country's early recovery from this disaster. Psycho-social support for students and teachers, and emergency support for Haiti's education authorities are also among the initiatives submitted by UNESCO.
At the time of issue of this communiqué, six of UNESCO's fourteen-person Haiti Office team have been accounted for. It is still proving extremely difficult to contact the remaining eight staff, all Haitians.
* Source:UNESCO Press Release No. 2010-05