UN Leading Efforts Rebuilding Haiti’s Telecom System

A global effort led by the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is endeavouring to accelerate the reconstruction of Haiti’s information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, which was destroyed in the devastating January earthquake.

“Let’s do everything we can to ensure that Haiti gets state-of-the-art 21st century infrastructure, instead of simply replacing outdated 20th century equipment,” said Hamadoun Touré, the agency’s Secretary-General.

He was speaking yesterday (3rd July 2010) at a high-level meeting in Barbados attended by representatives of ITU Member States, UN agencies, the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, civil society and the private sector. More than 200,000 people were killed in the 12 January earthquake, which left 1.3 million more homeless and destroyed countless buildings, including Government facilities, hospitals and schools.

“Let’s build in resilient features which will help to reduce network vulnerability in the future,” Mr. Touré said. “Let’s make sure that Haiti gets broadband infrastructure, giving the country communications networks which are worthy of such an indomitable nation.”

The Barbados meeting wrapped up with participants pledging their support for a trust fund for Haiti to be set up within ITU. Within 24 hours of the quake on 12 January, ITU had deployed 40 satellite terminals to the capital, Port-au-Prince, for use by Government and humanitarian agencies to coordinate logistics and search and rescue operations. Flown to the Dominican Republic for free by FedEx, the equipment was rushed on UN transport from Santo Domingo to Port-au-Prince.

The ITU has also dispatched dozens of units with broadband capabilities, as well as engineers, to Haiti. The agency and its partners set up a mobile station providing wireless communications for humanitarian workers in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake.

UN News Centre

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