Earthquake in Haiti – Update on the French effort

Paris, 27 January 2010

Two weeks after the terrible earthquake which struck Haiti, the search, rescue and rubble-clearing operations have been terminated. The emphasis remains on helping the disaster-stricken people.

1. French community Thanks to the aircraft deployed to Haiti, 1,058 French nationals have been evacuated, together with 792 Haitians, 35 [non-French] European Union citizens and 56 nationals of other countries, i.e. a total of 1,941 people. Sadly, the deaths of 24 of our compatriots have been reported, whilst we are still without news of 10 others.

2. Personnel and equipment deployed

1,140 French personnel are deployed on the ground: 503 Interior Ministry staff, 612 military personnel (including 168 on the aircraft and 435 on the ships), 16 additional Foreign and European Affairs Ministry officials and 9 Health Ministry staff. 1,630 tonnes of equipment have also been delivered.

The 9 planes chartered by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry have delivered 149 tonnes of equipment and transported over 480 people. The light transport and landing ship “Francis Garnier” has left Port-au-Prince to deliver humanitarian aid to Ile-à-Vache and then the port of Les Cayes.

The field hospital, operational since 17 January, has seen over 800 patients and admitted over 200.

3. Organization of the French aid

In Port-au-Prince, a coordination unit is operating at the Embassy, staffed by 16 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 the 17,500 calls received since the beginning of the crisis.

4. Children undergoing adoption procedures

All in all, 876 families have contacted the international adoption service, of whom 391 have been given decisions relating to 446 children, taking siblings into account./.

Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti – Statement by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry Spokesman

Paris, 26 January 2010

Yesterday, Bernard Kouchner took part in the Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti, hosted by Canada in Montreal, in the presence of Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

Following this conference, a statement was adopted reaffirming the principle of respect for the Haitian government’s sovereignty with regard to implementing humanitarian aid and reconstruction projects. The participants pledged to adopt a coordinated, coherent and global approach in order to respond to Haiti’s immediate and long-term needs.

While continuing to provide humanitarian assistance, the participants set long-term objectives since, as Bernard Kouchner reaffirmed, “what was destroyed in a few seconds will have to be rebuilt over several years, under the Haitians’ leadership.”

The participants agreed on three strategic objectives:

- strengthened democratic governance;

- sustained social and economic development;

- enduring stability and the respect for the rule of law.

In addition, the participants established a road map for rebuilding Haiti, with the key event an international donor and partner conference in March at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, steered by the government of Haiti and supported by the key contributors, including Canada, Brazil, the United States, European Union, Spain and France.

I also remind you that, faced with the Haiti tragedy, the EU and its Member States are fully mobilized, as reflected by the scope of its aid, which has now reached €122 million (Commission: €30 million, European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, Member States: €92 million). In addition to the emergency aid, the EU will mobilize its financial instruments (in particular the European Development Fund) to provide non-humanitarian aid of €100 million, aimed in particular at strengthening the Haitian State’s operational capacity. Over the longer term, the Commission has scheduled the release of €200 million under the European Development Fund.

The Foreign Affairs Council decided on 25 January to respond to the United Nation’s request for support. The EU will provide coordinated support in the following areas:

- civil engineering (clearing of rubble, repairing of roads to facilitate delivery of aid);

- maritime assets (ships with logistic capabilities);

- maintaining law and order: 300 European gendarmes will be deployed in support of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) (including around 100 French gendarmes and contributions from Italy, Spain and the Netherlands).

Lastly, a coordination cell (EUCO Haiti) will be set up in Brussels to pilot the deployment of military assets and action in the security domain./.

Ministerial Preparatory Conference on Haiti – Closing press conference – Statements made by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (excerpts)

Montreal, 25 January 2010

THE MINISTER – Thank you Minister. Thank you everyone.

At this moment I’m thinking of Haiti and the Haitian people. I’m thinking of what was destroyed in a few seconds, a few days ago. We didn’t think that people would so soon be confirming hope, continuity and a great many projects. I thank our Canadian friends for organizing this preparatory meeting in such a short time.

What was destroyed in a second will need very many years to rebuild. Nevertheless, I appreciate what Haitian Prime Minister M. Bellerive said: this isn’t a meeting to lament what’s happened, solely to show compassion, but clearly a working meeting for the future. (…)

Thank you for being so specific, rapid and efficient.

Q. – (inaudible)

THE MINISTER – No one knew that such an earthquake, such a disaster was going to happen, but we were already working in Haiti; some of us have been doing so for over 40 years. We had a United Nations programme, MINUSTAH, which had made immense progress. Security, governance, the way the Haitians were taking responsibility for their country had improved. And then, there was this earthquake and, day after day, we were overwhelmed, you, us, above all the Haitians.

This is the greatest international response to a natural disaster ever seen. Some of us have done far more than the others, the United Nations, the United States, but we were all there. It’s never perfect, there are always criticisms.

We aren’t out of the emergency phase and you’re asking exactly how much money we have to deal with the next ten years? Well, we have confidence in the Haitian Prime Minister, President Préval and the international community.

You’re asking how much money Europe has provided? A large amount, between €400 and 500 million. But what must we work on? We’ve got to work on the reconstruction projects while we’re still dealing with the emergency situation. We’re doing both things at the same time. Just this morning, we were trying to find 200,000 tents to shelter Haitian families with nowhere to live.

We’re also preparing to prevent epidemics and, while this is still emergency action and our friends are hard at work, you’re asking what we’re going to do? We can’t give you a precise answer, but we know it will be in the fields of health, education, reconstruction, town planning and governance. But don’t criticize us for going too fast, that would be really unfair./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Interview given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to the “Le Quotidien du Médecin” newspaper (excerpts)

Paris, 20 January 2010


Q. – Can you give us the latest on all the French personnel and equipment committed on the ground?

THE MINISTER – The French government is making a huge effort, alongside the NGOs, to deal with this tragic earthquake and support the Haitian people. 549 personnel are currently on the ground. Among them, 250 rescuers are working round the clock to free the many casualties from the rubble. A field hospital is taking in dozens of people every day. As I speak, the 70 medical personnel who immediately arrived in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince have already treated over 2,000 people, including performing major operations.

But our effort goes on. In the next few hours, 3 more planes will leave Paris with 55 tonnes of essential humanitarian equipment to help the people of Haiti. Two French naval vessels will also reach Haiti in the next few days.

In Paris, the crisis centre is mobilized and has received nearly 10,000 telephone calls. We now know that over 600 French nationals are safe and sound in Haiti and we’re doing our utmost to enable them to rejoin their families.

Q. – When do you personally envisage going there?

THE MINISTER – Today, my place is in Paris, to direct France’s action under the authority of President Sarkozy and the Prime Minister and thanks to the Quai d’Orsay crisis centre which I created to do this.

Q. – What message can you give French doctors who wish to help? Can some of them go and join those working on the ground?

THE MINISTER – Their mobilization is essential, but must be organized. Medical personnel must go through an NGO which has contacts and can give them somewhere to go when they arrive on the island./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Interview given by Alain Joyandet, Minister of State responsible for Cooperation and Francophony, to the “La Tribune” newspaper

Paris, 19 January 2010

Q. – Europe seems to have taken a lot of time to coordinate its aid…

THE MINISTER – The European Union reacted relatively fast, as demonstrated by Monday’s Cooperation Ministers’ meeting in Brussels. It isn’t shocking for a State to be more flexible and react faster than a multilateral organization, which needs a few days to organize meetings. It isn’t the moment for argument, but for urgent action and all people of goodwill to help.

Q. – Managing this crisis is a test for the very new High Representative Catherine Ashton…

THE MINISTER – Given the urgency of the situation and scale of this disaster which surprised everyone, the European response is encouraging. Actually, I think it’s a plus for Catherine Ashton.

Q. – Should France occupy a special place in the organization of the aid?

THE MINISTER – We’re happy to see that the European Union is playing its full role, but France has also got hers, which is a specific one. This is why, without waiting, she was first on the ground, putting relief teams and equipment in place. From the outset, we’ve done everything we could, unstintingly. France is imposing nothing; she is at the disposal of the EU and other States. At moments like the ones we’re experiencing today, we mustn’t dwell on matters of principle or susceptibilities./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic

Paris, 19 January 2010

During their telephone conversation last week, President Sarkozy and President Obama noted our two countries’ resolute commitment in Haiti, and decided to combine their efforts to deal with the humanitarian emergency and subsequently address the enormous reconstruction requirements.

Since then the French authorities have been entirely satisfied with the cooperation between our two countries and, beyond that, the continuous coordination between the crisis centres of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and US Department of State. They want to pay tribute to the United States’ outstanding mobilization in support of Haiti and the vital role the Americans are playing on the ground./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Situation of Haitian children – Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, 18 January 2010

The terrible plight of all Haitian children, who are especially vulnerable, has been a constant concern of the relief teams since the start of the rescue operations.

Liaising with the Ministry’s crisis centre and the French Embassy in Port-au-Prince, the additional consular staff sent specially to Haiti yesterday are tasked with checking on the child care centres, orphanages and all the children there, ensuring they are registered in the aid distribution channels and, if necessary, supplying aid to them directly.

All Haitian children reported to be in great need of medical attention can be evacuated by air, including obviously children currently in the adoption process.

A few days after the earthquake, the priority today is to provide medical help and emergency humanitarian aid to all the disaster victims, and particularly children who, as we know, are among the most vulnerable.

However, given the distress and legitimate concerns of the families of would-be adopters in Haiti, and as an exception to the usual procedures Haitian children for whom a decision has been delivered will be able to be taken to France. This is a very significant relaxation of the regulations. President René Préval has just appointed M. Evans Lescouflair, Minister of Youth and Sport, our embassy’s official contact to look at every situation as quickly as possible and, whenever necessary, confirm the Haitian authorities’ agreement.

The International Adoption Service, which is in permanent contact with the adoption bodies and the families, is compiling a register of the applications, collecting the information and liaising closely with the Embassy to facilitate and speed up the procedures in coordination with the Haitian authorities.

The French authorities remain fully mobilized both in France and on the ground in Haiti to provide the children with all the help they need, address the families’ legitimate preoccupations and ensure the legal security of the adopted children./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Update on French effort – Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, 18 January 2010

As soon as she learned of the earthquake at 10.53 p.m. on 12 January, France immediately mobilized to deploy civilian and military personnel on the ground to come to the aid of the Haitian people and assist the 1,400 French nationals living in Haiti.

1. Personnel and equipment deployed

246 rescuers, 235 support and command personnel, 29 gendarmes and 9 dogs are deployed, with 130 tonnes of equipment.

The French search-and-rescue and rubble-clearing teams have already worked on 8 sites and are currently working on a new one. They have located and extricated from the rubble 13 survivors. A field hospital (70 people, 33 tonnes), an advanced medical unit (70 people, 6 tonnes) and 10 mobile medical teams are currently at work in Port-au-Prince. A water purification unit has been installed capable of supplying up to 20,000 people a day. A sécurité civile [emergency services] helicopter is assisting the rescuers.

3 military planes are making daily round trips between Haiti and the French West Indies and have already delivered 27.5 tonnes of equipment and emergency supplies (food and drinking water) to Port-au-Prince. In addition France has decided to make a €2 million exceptional food allocation.

These deployments were made rapidly thanks to the efficiency and excellent spirit of cooperation of the American air traffic control authorities at Port-au-Prince airport.

2. French community

Since the onset of the crisis, nearly 10,000 calls have been made to the crisis centre’s special Haiti situation telephone numbers. In response to these calls and thanks to the work of the teams on the ground, 440 French nationals have been located and found safe and sound in Haiti.

There has regrettably been confirmation of the deaths of 12 French nationals, whilst we are still without news of 14 others.

Since 13 January, 5 daily round-trip flights have evacuated 677 people – 596 French nationals, 54 Haitians, 20 non-French European citizens and 7 people of other nationalities – from Haiti to the French West Indies.

3. The effort is continuing

- Another aircraft chartered by the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs left Paris on 17 January carrying 100 search-and-rescue and rubble-clearing specialists and a consular crisis team tasked with helping in the evacuation. The plane will arrive in Haiti in the middle of the day (Paris time).

- A Defence Ministry C-130 is being deployed this afternoon to deliver humanitarian aid and transport French nationals evacuated from Haiti to the French West Indies.

- 2 French naval vessels (a light transport and landing ship and landing platform dock [ship]) will arrive in the area in the next few days, strengthening our capabilities: civil engineering equipment, vehicles, 2 heavy helicopters and 2 light helicopters.

- A plane carrying around 20 tonnes of humanitarian aid is scheduled to leave France for Port-au-Prince in the course of today.

So this morning, 650 French relief personnel are assisting the Haitian people and French nationals.

Finally, the French capabilities have also been made available to the NGOs, which to date have used them to transport 48 humanitarian workers and 10 tonnes of equipment./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Participation in a teleconference by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs – Statement by the Foreign and European Affairs Ministry Spokesman

Paris, 18 January 2010

During a conference call initiated by his Canadian opposite number, Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, talked to Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, other members of the Group of Friends of Haiti and Alain Le Roy, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

They assessed the situation and Haitian people’s needs and reaffirmed their resolve to work together, pooling efforts in close coordination with the United Nations.

They agreed on the need rapidly to prepare the reconstruction and offer a positive way forward for a traumatized Haitian population, and mobilize all the international community’s players, including States, aid donors, the international financial institutions, NGOs and companies, on the basis of a coherent strategy. With this in mind, Bernard Kouchner urged the necessity to take account of every dimension of the reconstruction, including in particular the essential strengthening of the capacity of the Haitian government. This requires an international conference capable of bringing together all those of goodwill; a first preparatory meeting will be held in Montreal on 25 January.

Bernard Kouchner has also had telephone conversations with several of his European opposite numbers and Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, with whom he discussed the necessity of stepping up the European Union’s emergency humanitarian aid effort in Haiti, delivery of the aid and support for the United Nations in ensuring security./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Allocation of €10 million to the United Nations emergency appeal – Communiqué issued by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, 18 January 2010

Continuing her active efforts to help the Haitian population suffering so terribly from the 12 January earthquake, France has decided to respond to the emergency appeal for Haiti launched by the United Nations on Friday, 16 January with a contribution of €10 million./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Article by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, published in the American newspaper “The Washington Post”¹

Paris, 16 January 2010

Building a future in Haiti

Tuesday’s earthquake was yet another tragedy for a country already shattered by adversity and misfortune. Yet Haiti continues to rally against all odds, with amazing courage. And Haiti is not alone. The international community has launched a major mobilization, and the United States and France – which shares close ties with Haiti, transcending our shared history and language – take a major part in this movement of solidarity. To help them recover from this catastrophe – the worst of the many disasters Haiti has experienced – France and its partners must do everything in their power to rebuild this island nation and help restore its strength and energy.

Although this is a dreadful time, we must prepare to seize this opportunity. Stubbornly and fearlessly, we must reach toward hope. I last travelled to Haiti in September, and I remember the lively discussions with my cherished friend, UN mission head Hedi Annabi, who died Tuesday at his post, and with Haitian President René Préval, on the future of the country. This week I have been working with counterparts such as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I know that despite its poverty and political failings, Haiti has everything at its disposal to finally achieve its transformation into a country of the future. The United Nations, international aid organizations, the European Union and all its partners – particularly the United States – are mobilizing to help Haiti re-establish itself. Its population is dazed but determined to survive. And the sad truth is that when everything has been destroyed, anything becomes possible.

Today, all our efforts must aimed at saving those who can be saved and at bringing emergency relief to the population, so many of whom are now homeless or hungry. But it is not too soon to think about reconstruction: lasting, practical and political reconstruction that will ward off the demons of the past. The international community must be resolved, as France is, to help the Haitians for as long as is needed to rebuild their country and to convince them – through actions, not just words – that their future is in their hands.

France proposes to hold, as soon as possible, a conference on reconstruction and development that would represent a starting point for Haiti’s renewal. This conference, to be hosted jointly with the United States, Canada, Brazil, the European Union and all others that wish to join us, must be up to the extraordinary challenges Haiti faces.

We will base our actions on the damage assessments provided by Haitian authorities, the United Nations and other international institutions. Such an assessment must be carried out in the next few weeks and should be based on an analysis of Haiti’s long-term requirements, if we are to put forward an ambitious reconstruction plan, not just for housing and infrastructure but also with regard to public institutions. Regional cooperation is critical. I believe that we must involve non-governmental organizations and the Haitian diaspora; reconstruction will require all of us to work together. Our work must amount to more than a pledging conference: we aim to put Haiti on the path of enduring economic growth and social development.

The suffering of the Haitian people has generated an extraordinary surge of generosity from individuals and governments the world over. But our attention and efforts must go beyond immediate humanitarian relief. We must engage the Haitian people and help them on their path toward a new future./.

¹ Source of English text: “The Washington Post” website.

Earthquake in Haiti – Press briefing given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, following his meeting with representatives of the Haitian Embassy and community in France (excerpt)

Paris, 15 January 2010


Q. – What’s the latest news on French nationals in Haiti?

THE MINISTER – (…) We decided to evacuate all French nationals who wanted to be evacuated. There are flights, round trips between Martinique and Guadeloupe and Haiti, but we have to take account of the fact that planes are having difficulty landing and that for the time being jumbo jets can land only during the day; I hope this will change.

Once again, the numbers are very rough. We are still looking for – but I don’t know if they are really missing – around 50 French nationals, perhaps 60, reportedly staying or living in very difficult areas. We don’t know anything else./.

Earthquake in Haiti – Statement by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic

Paris, 14 January 2010

Ladies and gentlemen,

There are tragedies in the history of nations that immediately elicit both horror and enormous compassion, and, of course, the duty to show solidarity. The earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday – the most violent in two centuries – is one of these.

It is too soon to assess the human and material toll of this latest tragedy that has struck this country and its people, one that sadly follows so many others. But the scale of the quakes, the scope of the damage, the initial reports we are receiving from the ground, clearly lead us to fear the worst.

In these extremely painful moments, my thoughts go to the Haitian people who are exhibiting great courage in the face of the implacable adversity of nature. My thoughts go, too, to the large Haitian community in France, who have rallied together in an exemplary fashion in these past hours. Yesterday I wrote to President Préval to assure him of the deep sympathy of the French people, who have developed such close ties to the Haitian people through history, culture and language.

I assured him of the French authorities’ mobilization to save lives, save the injured, free those trapped in the rubble and find those who are missing.

France was the first country to respond: by yesterday evening, 70 firefighters from the sécurité civile [emergency services], doctors from the SAMU [mobile emergency medical service] and a gendarmerie unit had landed in Port-au-Prince. They immediately got to work to find survivors and care for the injured A new sécurité civile unit accompanied by NGO members arrived this afternoon and is ready to get to work. Two more planes carrying supplies took off today, and the Foreign Ministry’s crisis centre was activated in Paris. It is working 24/7 to coordinate the deployment of French personnel on the ground. And despite the prevailing chaos, our embassy in Haiti is actively involved in organizing rescue efforts.

As I speak, we have confirmation of the death of two of our fellow citizens. About 100 French nationals who were injured or in very difficult situations were evacuated during the night by French military planes to Martinique for treatment, and several dozen of the 1,200 French citizens of Port-au-Prince have gathered at the Embassy and the Ambassador’s Residence.

Unfortunately, the whereabouts of several of our fellow citizens remain unknown; they are probably trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Our teams on the ground will spare no effort to find them and, of course, help them.

It is our duty to do everything in our power to save lives. I have just come from a meeting with the Prime Minister and several other ministers examining how we can provide additional means to further assist this battered country.

At the end of the meeting, I took the following decisions to deal with the humanitarian emergency:

1) More sécurité civile detachments, including search-and-rescue and rubble-clearing teams and doctors, will be sent to Haiti by military transport to add to the teams who will already have arrived there in the coming hours. They will be deployed from France and from the French West Indies. Moreover, I want to underline the outstanding mobilization of the French West Indies. Within 48 hours, we will have nearly 400 sécurité civile personnel on the ground to conduct rescue operations.

2) I have asked the Chief of Defence Staff to mobilize our military assets. The “Francis Garnier” is standing by at Fort-de-France and will sail to Haiti carrying earth-moving equipment and humanitarian supplies from France. Another water-treatment unit will be sent to Haiti because drinking water is a major problem on the island, and the landing platform dock [ship] “Sirocco” – currently in Dakar – will sail for Port-au-Prince where she’s scheduled to arrive in a few days, with two operating theatres and 50 beds for the injured. We will equip her with two Puma helicopters to facilitate aeromedical evacuations. Finally, additional aircraft will be mobilized to increase the frequency of the round trips, because I am well aware that our compatriots who no longer have anywhere to live absolutely must be evacuated from Port-au-Prince, where one in every two houses has been destroyed. We will evacuate them promptly to Martinique and to repatriate them to France, if they so wish, and naturally we will do more if need be.

Ladies and gentlemen,

All our efforts today are quite naturally focused on the humanitarian emergency and rescue operations.

We must turn this disaster – which comes in the wake of so many others – into an opportunity to end, once and for all, the curse that has seemed to weigh on Haiti and her people for such a long time. Haiti is not fated to be a martyr State. This new tragedy can be the last if the international community mobilizes to help the country.

I am going to propose to President Obama, to whom I will be speaking in the coming hours, that the United States, Brazil, Canada and others take the initiative to convene a major conference on reconstruction and development in Haiti. I am going to talk to President Lula and Prime Minister Harper, and we’re going to work closely with the European Union to marshall substantial funds and rebuild the country. I will give you more information in the coming days, and of course will try as soon as possible, when I go to Martinique – I had promised to visit Santo Domingo and will take the opportunity, of course, to go to Haiti in the next few weeks to talk to President Préval and see how, after this disaster, we can rebuild that country devastated by the events we’ve just learned of.

Thank you./.

Dernière modification : 02/02/2010

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