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Talks to begin on Haiti reconstruction effort after 4,000 buildings destroyed

European Union ministers have agreed to organise an international conference on rebuilding Haiti after the devastation of the 12 January earthquake.

More than 4,000 buildings are estimated to have been destroyed or significantly damaged in the Port-au-Prince disaster, according to the first findings from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

The findings, which were based on the centre’s analysis of very high resolution satellite imagery of the region, are being used as a guide in planning short-term relief and assistance as well as long-term reconstruction.

The data was released as Europe’s foreign policy minister Cathy Ashton described the rebuilding of Haiti as a top EU priority. European Council president Herman van Rompuy said it would be on the agenda at a special meeting of EU heads of government on 11 February.

He said: “We have to do everything we can for the people of Haiti and in the longer term have an international conference on reconstruction.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Britian: “We must continue to improve our effort at rescuing the people of Haiti and begin the reconstruction of this troubled and fated country.”

Chief executive of British Expertise – CN’s Construction Trade Missions partner – Graham Hand added: “The priority is immediate relief for the inhabitants of Haiti. 

“Later, the development agencies will want to fund reconstruction, and British companies can be involved.  We are taking a UK Trade & Investment mission to the Caribbean Development Bank in February. We will hope to get some idea of their plans when we visit.”

International humanitarian agency Goal is seeking civil engineers and accountants, with experience of third world conditions, for their programmes in the region.

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering has also asked its members to support aid organisation RedR’s Haiti appeal by donating time or money.

Construction equipment manufacturer JCB has donated almost £100,000 worth of diggers to help the disaster relief effort.