Hurricane Ivan, one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the Caribbean in recent memory, ravaged the islands of Haiti and Grenada last month. More than 1,500 people lost their lives in Haiti and a further 300,000 have been affected by the subsequent flooding. Severe environmental degradation has exacerbated the effects of the hurricane.
Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries and has been the recipient of Irish development assistance prior to the current crisis. To date, €1.5 million has been committed in emergency and development funding to Haiti. This figure includes €250,000 which I approved on 4 October for emergency humanitarian programmes, specifically in response to Hurricane Ivan. This assistance is being delivered through NGOs, UN agencies and the Red Cross.
The current situation in Haiti is still very much in the emergency phase. When the position is stabilised, recovery and reconstruction will be a major task. Although the challenge is enormous, Ireland stands ready to assist the Government and people of Haiti in the recovery efforts.