» Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti Update

The Prime Minister continues to follow the situation in Haiti very closely.

First of all, as you know, the FCO yesterday confirmed the death of Frederick Wooldridge, a British member of the United Nations team in Haiti. The Prime Minister’s thoughts are with his family and friends at this most difficult of times. The Prime Minister’s thoughts are also with the families and friends of those British Nationals whose whereabouts have yet to be confirmed. The British team on the ground continue to work to establish contact with all British Nationals.

The Government has also announced this morning that we are trebling our funding for the immediate humanitarian response to the Haiti earthquake. The total sum will rise from $10 million to more than $32 million ( 20 million) based on the latest assessments of the scale of the disaster from our team on the ground.

The increased funding has been announced at a meeting of European Union development ministers in Brussels today, where Development Minister Mike Foster is representing the UK. The additional $20m will go towards further relief and recovery work, including food, shelter, basic sanitation and health services. Our assessment team is on the ground and working with the UN, US and others to determine priorities for these funds.

The PM is also incredibly grateful for the continuing donations to the DEC appeal from the British people. Donations now total over 15m.

Also, and as we said yesterday in a statement, the Prime Minister has sent a message of condolence to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, following the UN’s confirmation of the deaths of the UN Special Representative in Haiti Hedi Annabi, his Deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa, and that of Acting Police Commissioner Doug Coates. The Prime Minister said that his thoughts were with the Secretary General and with the families and friends of those who had been tragically killed, as well as with the people of Haiti themselves.

Finally the PM spoke yesterday to the British Ambassador, Stephen Fisher. The Ambassador gave the PM a full update on developments, including work to improve the co-ordination of assistance and work to make contact with British Nationals.

Asked if there had been any discussions inside the EU or with the US bout sending troops into Haiti to help with law and order, the Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) told the assembled press that the US had sent in troops and they were on the ground already. The PMS said he was not aware of the EU discussing such a proposal, but this would be at the UN’s request and was the sort of thing that could well be discussed at the EU Development Ministers meeting today.

Asked whether a Cabinet Minister would be visiting Haiti, the PMS replied that the most important thing at the moment was to make sure we were doing all we could by way of getting aid in and being supportive on the ground. If it was appropriate for a Government Minister to visit, then it would be considered at correct stage.

Asked why the European Union had been slow to act, the PMS said that he wouldn’t characterise it in those terms. This was a completely international response with donations coming in from EU countries. The PMS said one of the reasons for the meeting in Brussels today was to see if there were any other pan-European initiatives that could be taken.

Asked if the Prime Minister had any thoughts on making Haiti a UN protectorate, the PMS replied that it was too early to think about long-term ramifications. We were trying to help the people of Haiti as much as possible.

Asked if there was any possibility of adding a Haiti leg to the Afghanistan conference and meeting on Yemen, the PMS said he was sure whenever the international community met in the near future, this would be a topic of discussion, at least in the margins.

original source.

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