Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Update on Haiti

Dear Colleagues -
With a little over a month after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we have received a situation analysis from the U.S. Ambassador on the ground. I am happy to share his report and continuous coverage of the relief and rebuilding efforts.
Warm regards,
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State. For those of you out there in our viewing area wondering where the heck have you guys been for the past week, obviously, we in Washington, D.C., have been experiencing an unusual amount of snow. So rather than doing briefings here from the podium, all of us have been home shoveling and doing other things just to survive Snowmageddon here in Washington, D.C. But we have had intrepid members of the State Department press corps with us during the course of the week and we’ve been able to try to continue business under arduous circumstances relative to Washington, D.C. I know there are some people out in the Midwest when I say you guys don’t get anything out there. But anyway, so we’re back in business and obviously pleased to see many familiar faces here back in the briefing room.
We are at one month beyond the Haiti earthquake, and we thought it was a wonderful opportunity having Ambassador Ken Merten here in Washington this week to bring him down just to kind of really give you a sense from the ground view of what is happening in Haiti, how Haiti has been able to cope and begin to recover from the devastating earthquake of a moment ago – of a month ago.
Haiti is now experiencing a three-day period of national mourning. Obviously, we stand with Haiti as it goes through this difficult timeframe. But I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to have our intrepid ambassador, who’s been leading an extraordinary effort on the ground in Haiti, begin the briefing and just kind of give you a sense of where we are here 30 days on.
Ken, thanks for joining us.
AMBASSADOR MERTEN: My pleasure. Thanks, P.J. Some of you I’ve seen down in Haiti. It’s nice to see you back all in one piece. I thought it might be useful for you all if I could give you a little picture of sort of where I see our efforts one month after the quake and give you, obviously, a chance to ask some questions on things that are of interest to you.
I’d like to start out, however, by giving a brief plug to my colleagues at the Embassy. I think those of us here from the United States can be really proud of our American diplomats, aid professionals, and soldiers on the ground who have helped deliver an immense amount of aid and relief to very, very needy people. I would ask you to keep in mind that in many cases the people providing this assistance, certainly amongst the Embassy and some of the AID staff, these are people who in many cases lost everything they owned that’s down in Haiti. They had their houses completely flattened. They’ve lost clothes, momentos, pictures. We’ve lost some colleagues down there. We have one of our Foreign Service colleagues died in the crash – in the earthquake. We have others that are still hospitalized. So it’s been a difficult period for us as well, but I’ve been very, very proud of everybody in the U.S. Government who’s down there doing, I think, fantastic work in terms of getting aid and relief to the needy Haitians.

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