Body of Irishman recovered in Haiti

Wednesday 20 January 2010 15.58
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Andrew Grene - Body recovered in Haiti
Andrew Grene - Body recovered in Haiti
Haiti - Immediate threats of tetanus and gangrene
Haiti - Immediate threats of tetanus and gangrene

The body of Irishman Andrew Grene has been recovered from the wreckage of the UN building in Port-au-Prince.

Mr Grene, who held joint Irish and US citizenship, was working as a special assistant to the head of the UN mission in Haiti.

Haiti: Information on donations
Photos from: Oxfam, Médecins Sans Frontières

The Department of Foreign Affairs was informed earlier today that his body had been found. His family in Ireland and the US have been informed.

President Mary McAleese has offered her sympathy to Mr Grene's family.

Mrs McAleese said: 'Andrew dedicated his life to serving others through his work with the United Nations and it is indeed tragic that he should have died in this way.'

A week after the earthquake in Haiti, a casualty report has confirmed the scale of the devastation with 200,000 people estimated to have died and 1.5m left homeless.

The report from the European Commission was compiled using Haitian government data.

The pace of food and medical aid deliveries has picked up, but doctors worry disease will be the next big challenge.

Medical teams pouring in to set up mobile hospitals said they were already overwhelmed by the casualties and warned of the immediate threats of tetanus and gangrene, as well as the spread of measles, meningitis and other infections.

No one has begun to estimate the number of injuries from the magnitude 7.0 earthquake, which destroyed much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, on 12 January.

The UN says that more than 90 people have been pulled out alive since international search and rescue teams began combing through the debris.

Elisabeth Byrs of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs added that rescue and humanitarian efforts are now concentrated outside of Port-au-Prince.

Besides the capital, the earthquake wreaked massive damage on nearby cities, including Jacmel to the south of the capital, and Carrefour, Gressier and Leogane, to the west.

OCHA said the immediate priorities for relief agencies remain 'medical assistance, corpse management, shelter, water and food and sanitation'.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he had recommended to the Security Council that 1,500 police and 2,000 troops be added to the 9,000-member UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti to provide security assistance for Haiti's shattered government.

More than 11,000 US military personnel are on the ground, on ships offshore or en route, including some 2,200 Marines with earth-moving equipment, medical aid and helicopters.

Haitian President Rene Preval said US troops will help UN peacekeepers keep order on Haiti's streets, where overstretched police and UN peacekeepers have been unable to provide full security.

Yesterday evening, there were reports of gunfire in the capital city.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said US forces would not play a police role but would defend themselves and 'have the right to defend innocent Haitians and members of the international community if they see something happen.'

Another US military official said the violence was isolated and was not impeding the humanitarian aid mission.

US troops are protecting distribution of aid, which has begun arriving more regularly at the now US-run airport.

Rebuilding Haiti

World leaders have promised massive amounts of assistance to rebuild Haiti.

Haiti's president appealed to donors to focus not just on immediate aid for Haitians but also on long-term development of the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

'We cannot just cure the wounds of the earthquake. We must develop the economy, agriculture, education, health and reinforce democratic institutions,' Mr Preval said at a conference of donors in neighbouring Dominican Republic.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, hosting the meeting, proposed the creation of a $2bn-a-year fund to finance Haiti's recovery over five years.

EU institutions and member states have offered more than €400m in emergency and long-term assistance to Haiti.

US President Barack Obama spoke with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva on the need for the two governments and Canada to take the lead in organising donor conferences, a spokeswoman at the presidential palace in Brasilia said.

The US has agreed to take in Haitian orphans legally confirmed as eligible for adoption in another country by the Haitian government. They will be adopted by US citizens.

US military officers hope to reopen Port-au-Prince's shattered seaport in two or three days, but are relying for now on airdrops to distribute food and water by helicopter.

Today, Irish businessman Denis O'Brien is travelling to the US to attend a meeting being hosted by former US President Bill Clinton to plan the rebuilding of Haiti.

Before he left, Mr O' Brien, whose Digicel company is one of the main employers in the country, told RTÉ News that a Marshall-type plan is needed if there is to be any hope for the people of Haiti.

Bogus collections

The Irish Red Cross has warned members of the public to be aware of bogus collections for its Haiti appeal.

The organisation says it has received a very positive response from the Irish public through collections and other fundraising events.

However, it said it is vital that members of the public remain vigilant and ask people collecting to provide identification should they be suspicious in any way.

Noel Wardick, Head of the International Department with the Irish Red Cross, said it has very strict protocol for collections to ensure that every cent raised by the Haiti appeal goes to those who need it most.

But he said if members of the public are in doubt, they should ask the people collecting to provide Red Cross identification, and their garda collection permit, to ensure they are genuine.

Meanwhile, Unicef Ireland is holding a candlelight vigil in Dublin this evening as a show of solidarity for the victims of the Haitian Earthquake.

The vigil at Christchurch Cathedral will start at 5pm and candles will be provided.

It will be followed by a non-denominational prayer service inside the cathedral.