Media Center

Press Release

OAS Assistant Secretary General to Travel to Haiti

  January 13, 2010

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, will travel to Haiti as soon as travel conditions in the earthquake-devastated country make it possible. The decision today followed a series of meetings at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., in which the situation in the Caribbean country after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake was assessed and Member States of the Organization pledged humanitarian, financial and other support to the government and people of Haiti.

“I fear that in light of the widespread devastation the loss life would be extensive and property damage enormous, as most buildings in the Port-au-Prince areas have either been severely damaged or completely destroyed. However, it is very encouraging that Member States are not only in solidarity with Haiti but have already begun to take concrete steps to support Haiti within the first 24 hours,” Ambassador Ramdin said.

Ambassador Ramdin, who chairs the OAS Group of Friends of Haiti, convened an urgent meeting of the Group today to discuss the coordination of search and rescue efforts, exchange information, stimulate donations and consider ways to spur recovery. A few hours earlier, representatives of the OAS, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Pan American Development Fund (PADF) and the Inter-American Defense Board activated the Inter-American Response Mechanism to deal with the disaster.

The Assistant Secretary General stressed the importance of effective coordination and the need to speed up humanitarian assistance, in particular search and rescue, meeting the people’s basic needs, while working toward the restoration of transport and communication. “The key point will be to coordinate our efforts toward Haiti as best as possible,” he said. “This was the main objective of the meeting.”

In a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council earlier in the day, OAS Member States expressed their sympathies and pledged their support to the government and people of Haiti. The Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS, Ambassador Duly Brutus, thanked the Member States for their pledges of support and made a heartfelt appeal to the international community.

“In the name of the Haitian people, we would like here to make a call to the international community to come to the aid of the Haitian people. We must yet today do our best to save several thousand people who are still alive and under the rubble of homes and public buildings. Also, we are in need of providing quick care to thousands of injured people and of supplying a great part of the population of Port-au-Prince with food, medicine and potable water. Given the size of this natural disaster, our country has never felt a greater need for solidarity from our brothers in the region and from the international community.”

The OAS emphasizes the greater need for cash contributions over contributions in kind during this first phase of relief efforts, and encourages people to make donations through the website of the Pan American Development Foundation, an affiliate of the Organization with a well-established history of cooperation in Haiti, at

Reference: E-009/10