International Development Committee Announcement

INTERNATIONAL CO-ORDINATION KEY TO HAITI'S RELIEF AND RECONSTRUCTION, SAY MPS

The Chairman of the International Development Select Committee of the UK House of Commons, Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce MP, made the following statement.

In common with people around the world, the Committee has been shocked and distressed by the scale of suffering following the earthquake in Haiti on 12 January. We extend our deep sympathy to all those affected. The Committee also wishes to express its appreciation for the efforts being made by development agencies, national governments, international bodies and non-governmental organisations to bring vital relief to the people of Haiti.

The situation on the ground in Haiti is presenting major logistical challenges to ensuring that relief reaches the thousands of people who need it, beyond those experienced in previous disasters. The UK Government's immediate response to the Haiti earthquake has nevertheless worked well, despite the UK having no country programme in Haiti.

We acknowledge that the international response to unpredictable disasters such as this still requires better co-ordination and division of labour, as we spelt out in our 2006 Report on The Humanitarian Response to Natural Disasters.

In preparing this Report we saw and commended the Department for International Development's Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department Operations Team (CHASE-OT), which provides the UK's rapid response. This clearly worked well in Haiti, in co-ordination with the US (as the best placed neighbour donor), the UN and the EU. The Committee believes it is right that country donors should respond in the immediate aftermath of a disaster according to their particular strengths.

The people of Haiti now need a single authority to which they can turn and, realistically, that should comprise the Government of Haiti, weak as it is, the United Nations, itself a casualty of the disaster, but with external resources to mobilise, and the best placed lead donors - such as the USA, Canada and France.

The UK is a major donor to the UN, EU and other international agencies and to major NGOs who engage in disaster response. It is therefore appropriate that, after the UK has done all it can to save life and restore the means of life in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the long term reconstruction and development should be carried out by lead donors and international agencies, as recommended in our Report.

We believe that lessons are being learned about an effective humanitarian response but inevitably there is still room for improvement in the complex process of international co-ordination. It is therefore important that, in the fullness of time, the development community, including this Committee, seeks to learn further lessons about providing an effective humanitarian response to natural disasters from the tragic events in Haiti.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Committee Membership is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Mr Nigel Evans MP (Con), Mr Mark Hendrick MP (Lab/Co-op), Daniel Kawczynski MP (Con), Mr Mark Lancaster MP (Con), Mr Virendra Sharma (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Andrew Stunell MP (Lib Dem).

Committee Contact: Carol Oxborough, 020 7219 1226, or [email protected]

Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, 020 7219 1589, or [email protected]

Committee website: www.parliament.uk/indcom

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