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Minister Martin launches ‘Spirit of Haiti’ photo exhibition

Emergencies, News/feature, Haiti, 2011

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D., today called for Haiti to remain a priority for the international community, a year on from the devastating earthquake which killed more than 230,000 people.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of ‘Spirit of Haiti’- an exhibition by some of Ireland’s leading photographers, which will run at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre in Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin, until the end of January. 

“The Haiti earthquake was an appalling tragedy which cost more than 230,000 lives and destroyed the livelihoods of at least a million others.  

While much has been achieved over the last 12 months, the scale of the challenge in Haiti remains enormous. The devastation caused by the earthquake has been compounded by the cholera epidemic, the hurricane season and political uncertainty. Hundreds of thousands are living in temporary shelters which are not suitable for long term accommodation. In many cases conditions are primitive at best.

The international community has a responsibility to support the Haitian people in rebuilding their country. This anniversary is an important opportunity to renew our commitment to them.”

Minister Martin stated that the Government had front-loaded most of the €13 million in assistance which it pledged to Haiti at an international conference last year, in an effort to support aid agencies providing shelter, sanitation and healthcare to earthquake victims. 

“The Government is supporting the efforts of the UN and Irish and international NGOs in Haiti, as well as the Reconstruction Trust Fund led by former US President Bill Clinton.   

Ireland has also provided technical expertise via our Rapid Response Corps, along with the airlifts of emergency materials we carried out in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. We will continue to work closely with our partners in Haiti in the months and years ahead.”

Minister Martin described the exhibition at the Irish Aid Centre in O’Connell St as an opportunity for the public to see behind the headlines and statistics.

“This powerful exhibition gives us an insight into the challenges facing the survivors in Haiti. It also gives a real sense of their hope for the future.  I hope as many people as possible will take the opportunity to visit the exhibition in the coming weeks.

Note for Editors:

‘The Spirit of Haiti’ is an exhibition of photographs taken throughout Haiti by some of Ireland’s leading photographers. The photographers who are exhibiting are Julien Behal, Alan Betson, Mark Condren, George Doyle, Valerie O’Sullivan, Barry Murphy, Jerry Kennelly, all of whom are members of the Press Photographers Association of Ireland. The  exhibition is a corporate social responsibility project of Tweak.com, the world’s first online print and advertising service in association with Soul of Haiti and GOAL.

·        The launch took place at 18.30 on Tuesday, 11 January 2011, the eve of the 1st anniversary of the devastating earthquake, at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre, 27-31 Upper O’Connell Street, Dublin1

·        The exhibition is free and open to the public For further information, visit www.irishaid.ie

·        Ireland’s total funding support to Haiti in 2010 was €8.6 million.  Ireland pledged funding of €13 million at the Haiti Donor Conference held in New York last March for the period 2010-2012.  Humanitarian assistance to date has been used by partner NGOs and UN agencies including Concern, Goal, Trócaire and the UN World Food Programme to provide clean water, shelter and sanitation to the affected population and to support measures aimed at protecting vulnerable groups, especially children, in the aftermath of the earthquake.

·        More than 130 tonnes of emergency shelter, water and sanitation equipment were airlifted to Haiti in the two largest ever emergency humanitarian airlifts by Ireland.  A third emergency deployment of humanitarian supplies was also carried out in November in response to the cholera outbreak

·        There have been 15 deployments of 14 members of the Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps to Haiti in 2010 to assist in areas such as logistics, engineering and water and sanitation.

·        Photos are by Maxwell’s. There is no reproduction fee. 

11 January 2011