INTERPOL offers assistance to Haiti following devastating earthquake

15 January 2010

LYON, France – INTERPOL has offered its full support and assistance to Haiti and other countries whose nationals have been affected by the devastating earthquake which has left tens of thousands dead and injured.

INTERPOL’s 24-hour Command and Co-ordination Centre has offered to facilitate and co-ordinate international police messages for missing persons who may have been victims of the disaster.

A team comprising Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) experts and other specialist staff will be deployed to Haiti on Monday 18 January to provide assistance in helping national authorities assess DVI requirements. Through its 188 member countries, the INTERPOL General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France, can also assist in co-ordinating the deployment of other specialist assistance, as and when needed.

“Clearly, the priority now is to find and rescue as many living victims as possible, and for the humanitarian relief operations to be implemented,” said Brian Minihane, INTERPOL’s Director of Operational Support.

“However, when the rescue operation is over, INTERPOL is ready to provide whatever support and assistance is needed to help locate missing persons and with victim identification.

“International support and co-ordination is essential and INTERPOL’s global communication system and our previous experience in providing this type of help can play an important role,” added Mr Minihane.

INTERPOL has provided similar support in the aftermath of recent natural disasters, including the Philippines ferry disaster in Cebu in June 2008 when around 800 passengers lost their lives. In December 2004, INTERPOL launched it biggest-ever single operational response following the tsunami in southeast Asia, providing extensive co-ordination, logistics and communication support to affected countries and DVI teams working to identify the victims.