Wednesday, November 2, 2011


(Haiti Libre) -

The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti, is in China until November 3 for an official visit, at the invitation of the Institute of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China, and the organization "Integrated Research on Disaster Risk" (IRDR).

In front of 300 experts from 38 countries who came to the colloquium of the IRDR, Madame Jean has raised... the importance of concerted action by the international scientific community to reduce the vulnerability of Haiti to natural disasters.

"While the risk of environmental disasters are persistent in Haiti, it is essential that we build the capacity of countries to protect people and limit the damage, she said. Collaborate, gather knowledge, build long term partnerships with the reinforcement of the global scientific community;... all that is necessary for the implementation of strategies and sustainable policies. It is necessary to get out of the logic of reaction to crisis situations and adopt a logic of anticipation and prevention."

Haiti is a country highly vulnerable, according to Madame Jean, not only because of the tectonic fault that crosses its territory, storms and hurricanes that are seasonal, but also because of the serious economic, social and political difficulties which remain recurrent. It is therefore necessary, she said, to learn from the Global Assessment Report on the Reduction of Risk published in 2009: "The disasters are not caused by nature, but more by social, structural and policy factors that are deficient. This is particularly the lack of standards, of regulations and the poor quality of materials used in the construction of schools, hospitals, houses, and buildings that made them dangerous and which led to their collapse killing more than 230,000 people. It is necessary, she insisted, to act on all these fronts, armed with the best scientific and social knowledge, in addition to best practices."

During her stay, the UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti will visit at the invitation of the Chinese authorities, the fifth largest urban area in the country. She will travel on November 2 to Tianjin, which was struck in 1976 by an earthquake at a magnitude of 8.3 on the Richter scale, again creating hundreds of thousands of deaths. Since then, the city has been rebuilt. The living conditions of its 12 million inhabitants are improving constantly thanks to economic growth and to the progress achieved in protecting the population against earthquakes regularly affecting the region. Haiti can benefit from the experience and Chinese know-how in the implementation of appropriate practices and the creation of effective policies in terms of prevention and safety from natural disasters.

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