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Brussels, 26 February 2010

Catherine Ashton and Kristalina Georgieva to visit Haiti

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission and Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and civil protection, will visit Haiti to evaluate on the ground the development of European Humanitarian Aid and asses the needs that will have to be address in the future.

Commissioner Georgieva travels to Haiti on 28. February. High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton will arrive on 2 March. High Representative Ashton will meet President Preval, followed by a press point. She will meet meet Prime Minister Bellerive and other authorities of the country together with Commissioner Georgieva. Catherine Ashton will also visit European police and military contingents who have deployed to Haiti to support the emergency relief and reconstruction efforts, and visit local projects in Port au Prince, giving particular attention to the plight of orphans and other vulnerable children. Commissioner Georgieva will visit projects across the island and assess the humanitarian response more widely.

Ahead of the visit Catherine Ashton said: "I am going to Haiti to reaffirm the EU's commitment to help the Haitian people cope with the crisis and rebuild their country. It is now the right moment to go: the airport is open again and high level visits are not taking away valuable air space and resources. We want to work with the Government of Haiti on a common vision for this country's future and the future of its children. We know that rebuilding will take years; the EU is engaged for the long-term. The needs on the ground remain dramatic. I am particularly concerned about the hundreds of thousands of people in critical need of shelter ahead of rain and hurricane seasons. The EU is stepping up our engagement in this sector. Time is now of essence."

Commissioner Georgieva added: Commissioner Georgieva added: "The humanitarian crisis in Haiti is by no means over. The coming rainy and hurricane season will add to the challenge. The Commission has quickly mobilised urgent relief assistance since the day after the earthquake. We will do our utmost to continue to address the most pressing needs in Haiti, notably shelter, sanitation and health care. The Commission has mobilised an additional enveloppe of € 90 million and I want to make the best of it. This is why I will travel to Haiti, to see with my own eyes the situation across the country, in particular outside Port au Prince, and further strengthen our partnership with the Haitian authorities, the United Nations and all our partners on the ground. Haitian people can count on us".

Commissioner Georgieva and VP/HR Ashton will make a needs assessment for the continuation of the European humanitarian effort in the weeks to come. Current the immediate priorities, in addition to shelter, include sanitation, rubble removal, sanitation in camps and the continuation of medical assistant. The forthcoming rain and storm seasons (in March and June, respectively), will make this challenges more urgent.

For further information:

Please see: MEMO/10/54

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