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Ireland is making a difference in Haiti says Minister for Overseas Development, Mr Peter Power

International relations, Press Releases, Latin America, 2010

The Minister for Overseas Development, Mr Peter Power, T.D., has called for a renewed international effort to support the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 12 January.

Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Port-au-Prince today, Minister Power paid tribute to the efforts of the Haitian people and international aid agencies who are working tirelessly in advance of the hurricane season in Haiti.

“An enormous amount has been achieved in a relatively short period of time,” Minister Power said.

“I was shocked by the scale of the destruction. We have all seen the images of the Presidential Palace in ruins and of the tent cities which are housing hundreds of thousands of families.

“But it is only when you see it at first-hand that the enormity of the task becomes clear. Haiti was literally reduced to rubble by the earthquake and, in a very real sense, the Haitian people are re-founding their country and society.”

Minister Power visited a number of camps during his visit, including one in the former national stadium in which Irish aid agency Concern is using Irish Government funding to provide basic water and sanitation facilities to more than 20,000 people.

“I was moved by the plight of the thousands of people living under tarpaulin in the Port-au-Prince stadium,” said the Minister. “The conditions are extremely difficult. There is a complete lack of facilities; of privacy; of any of the things we take for granted in our daily lives. But in spite of that, the residents have immense dignity and incredible resilience and good humour.”

During his visit Minister Power met a wide range of United Nation agencies, aid agencies and other humanitarian groups. He also met the Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to discuss the Haitian Government’s plans for the reconstruction of the country.

Immediately prior to the visit, he met the UN Special Envoy for Haiti, former US President Bill Clinton. He also met members of Irish Aid’s Rapid Response Corps who are providing valuable specialised skills to UN agencies in Haiti.

Ireland has pledged 13 million to support the relief and reconstruction effort in Haiti and is one of the largest per capita donors to the impoverished Caribbean country.

Notes to the editor