Haiti crisis sees combined effort from Government and disaster committee

The Government and the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) have both launched concerted comms efforts to keep the UK public informed in the aftermath of the earthquake crisis in Haiti.

Aid arriving: Haiti
Aid arriving: Haiti

The Government’s activities have been led by the Department for International Development (DfID), liaising closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Downing Street.

DfID has flown six journalists to Haiti on a search and rescue plane, accompanied by press officer Michael Haig. The plane landed in the early hours of this morning and the journalists will be reporting today. These include foreign correspondents from ITN and the BBC.

DfID director of comms Paul Mylrea said: ‘The idea is to explain what’s going on and to make people aware of the British aid effort.

‘The main challenge is comms – mobile communication isn’t working very well, and the comms satellite isn’t working very well. But our teams of operational people are managing to get in touch.’

Over the past two days, Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander has carried out 25 to 30 interviews on the morning, lunchtime and evening news.

In addition Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development Mike Foster has been handling regional interviews.

DfiD has also been setting up interviews with search and rescue personnel on the ground.

On the charities side, DEC is an umbrella organisation of 13 humanitarian aid agencies, which come together to handle major disasters.

The media handlers of charities such as Save The Children and Christian Aid have joined up in DEC’s Kings Cross offices to combine their efforts, led by DEC media manager Brendan Paddy.

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