Digicel donating US$5 million to Haiti earthquake relief


13 Jan 2010

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Mobile phone company Digicel, which was founded by Irish entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, has announced it is to donate US$5 million to support relief efforts in Haiti, following an earthquake with a 7.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale, which struck close to the country’s capital Port-au-Prince yesterday.

In a statement, Digicel said it would make its donation to the NGOs that are at the forefront of relief efforts in Haiti, such as Médecins Sans Frontières and Concern.

Thousands of people are believe to have lost their lives in the earthquake, with many more others severely injured.

‘Bedlam’

Speaking on RTE Radio’s News at One this lunchtime, the chairman of Digicel Denis O’Brien, described the situation in Haiti following the earthquake as “absolute bedlam”.

O’Brien said he believed that the Haitian earthquake is as bad as the earthquake in Sichuan China last summer. While he acknowledged that the death toll would not be as great as the Chinese earthquake, the devastation caused would be similar, he said.

O’Brien called on all European countries to help Haiti, adding that he hoped that countries would not promise aid and then not deliver.

He said in particular he hoped that France would come in with major funding. Prior to its independence, Haiti was a French colony known as St Domingue.

Call for help

O’Brien also called on the Irish Government to offer help, describing Haiti as “a forgotten country in the Western world”.

O’Brien’s Digiciel has an operation in Haiti employing some 600 people. He said the company was currently attempting to establish the whereabouts of a lot of people, but confirmed it had lost a senior member of staff and another person on its security staff.

The Digicel headquarters in Port-au-Prince is one of the few buildings to remain standing after the earthquake. According to O’Brien, the company’s old building, which it moved out of just six months ago, was completely destroyed in the earthquake.

Photo: The chairman of Digicel, Denis O’Brien

Article courtesy of businessandleadership.com

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