Earthquake in Haiti - Update on the French effort on the 25 January 2010
EARTHQUAKE IN HAITI UPDATE ON THE FRENCH EFFORT STATEMENT BY THE FOREIGN AND EUROPEAN AFFAIRS MINISTRY SPOKESMAN
(Paris, 25 January 2010)
Nearly two weeks after the terrible earthquake which struck Haiti, the first emergency phase marked by the rapid build-up of personnel deployed on the ground and the search, rescue and rubble-clearing operations is drawing to a close. The emphasis is now on helping the disaster-stricken people.
1. French community
Thanks to the aircraft deployed to Haiti, 925 French nationals have been evacuated, together with 653 Haitians, 33 (non-French) European Union citizens and 51 nationals of other countries, i.e. a total of 1,662 people. Sadly, the deaths of 24 of our compatriots have been confirmed, whilst we are still without news of 10 others.
2. Personnel and equipment deployed
Today, 25 January, 775 French personnel are deployed on the ground: 535 Interior Ministry staff, 216 military personnel, 15 additional Foreign and European Ministry officials and 9 Health Ministry staff. 325 tonnes of equipment has also been mobilized.
The official end of the search, rescue and rubble-clearing phase explains the reduction in the number of French personnel deployed on the ground. This is why 154 of them left Haiti on the evening of 23 January. As you know, French rescuers extricated 16 survivors from the rubble.
The 9 planes chartered by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry have delivered 140 tonnes of equipment and transported nearly 450 people. The 5 planes making daily round trips between Haiti and the French West Indies have delivered 161 tonnes of humanitarian aid and emergency supplies.
Following the arrival at Port-au-Prince, on 19 January, of the French Navy light transport and landing ship "Francis Garnier", with her cargo of vehicles, tents and humanitarian aid, yesterday the landing platform dock (ship) "Sirocco" delivered helicopters, medical teams and 800 tonnes of equipment.
French aid resources were also put at the disposal of the NGOs, allowing the transport of their 63 humanitarian workers and over 33 tonnes of aid to Haiti.
French medical teams have seen over 4,800 patients, whilst the field hospital, operational since 17 January, has seen nearly 400 patients and admitted over 150.
As you know, France has also made an exceptional allocation of €2 million of food aid and will contribute around €10 million to the Flash Appeal launched by the United Nations.
3. Organization of the French aid
In Port-au-Prince, a coordination unit is operating at the Embassy, staffed by 15 additional Foreign and European Affairs Ministry officials. The Embassy is providing the headquarters for the operational activities, and the grounds of the ambassador’s residence somewhere for the search-and-rescue teams to stay as well as a transit area. A platoon of 18 gendarmes provides security for each of these sites.
In Paris, the 50 crisis-centre staff are working in shifts coordinating the French effort. There is also an "adoption unit" manned by 7 members of the International Adoption Service. 155 Foreign and European Affairs Ministry volunteers have also been working in shifts answering around 17,000 calls received since the beginning of the crisis.
4. International adoption in Haiti
Given the large number of Haitian children adopted in France, the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has been very active since the onset of the crisis. 33 children whose adoption process had been completed arrived in Paris on 22 January.
At Bernard Kouchner’s request, on 23 January the ambassador in charge of international adoption had another meeting with a delegation of parents currently engaged in adoption procedures in Haiti. At the meeting, stock was taken of the significant efforts made since the earthquake by the International Adoption Service, liaising with the French Embassy in Port-au-Prince and [Ministry] crisis centre to look at the specific situation of each of the 914 officially registered adoption procedures. In total, 857 families have contacted the International Adoption Service, of whom 372 are awaiting a decision on 424 children, taking siblings into account.
When dealing with the adoption procedures, France will pay full regard to her international commitments, particularly the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in International Adoption, and Haitian law. In this respect, I remind you of UNICEF’s renewed warnings. The International Adoption Service and French Embassy are collecting the requisite information so as to be sure of the existence of these judicial decisions. Besides the 33 children who went to Paris on a special flight on 22 January, 76 children will soon be able to go to France, since the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has already been notified of the relevant adoption decisions.
For the other children, the French authorities are going to consider with the Haitian authorities the legal conditions in which the ongoing procedures could be successfully completed in the children’s best interests.
The members of the delegation of would-be adopters have received assurances on the significant efforts the French authorities have made to help the children still in the crèches, in a still-difficult situation.