15 January 2010

IFLA supports Haitian colleagues in their struggle to recover from the earthquake

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Dear colleagues

On behalf of all IFLA members and staff I extend our deepest sympathy and sorrow to our Haitian colleagues as they struggle to deal with the damage to their lives and their country. We are ready to assist in any way they consider to be of benefit to them over what will be a long recovery period.

IFLA will of course be working with the International Committee of the Blue Shield, which has prepared the following statement on behalf of its five member organizations. I will keep you informed of developments in IFLA's activities and our Blue Shield participation.

Felipe Martinez, Chair of IFLA's Latin American and the Caribbean Section has provided the following websites for information on how support may be given, and suggests you also contact the Haiti Earthquake Relief Centres in your countries:

Help children affected by the earthquake in Haiti


Pan American Health & Education Foundation
Haiti earthquake relief

Danielle Mincio, Secretary of the Preservation and Conservation Section, and IFLA Governing Board representative on the Preservation and Conservation (PAC) Core Activity is taking a leading role in identifying how the Section and PAC may intervene for assistance after the life-saving interventions are well underway.

Stuart Hamilton, IFLA Senior Policy Adviser, has managed to contact a colleague from the library association, FOKAL, which hosted IFLA FAIFE activities recently. FOKAL staff and families are safe, as is the building. I have also heard that Françoise Beaulieu-Thybulle, director general of the national library, and family are safe. FOKAL is trying to centralize information on this blog. Understandably their focus at the moment is on lists of survivors but in time they will try also to identify help that is needed.

Members may donate to the Stichting IFLA Foundation at any time. However, when we have a better idea of the assistance needed and how IFLA can contribute I will advise you of our plans and would welcome your support, either in kind or financial.

Yours sincerely

Ellen Tise
IFLA President


ICBS Statement on the Earthquake in Haiti

Blue Shield logo

15 January 2010

The Blue Shield expresses its sorrow and solidarity with the population of Haiti for the loss of lives and the destruction caused by the earthquake which occurred on 12th January.

Culture is a basic need, and cultural heritage a symbolic necessity that gives meaning to human lives connecting past, present and future. Cultural heritage is a reference full of values helping to restore a sense of normality and enabling people to move forward. Cultural Heritage is fundamental in rebuilding the identity, the dignity and the hope of the communities after a catastrophe.

The Blue Shield Mission is "to work to protect the world's cultural heritage threatened by armed conflict, natural and man-made disasters". While it appreciates that the immediate priority is to find the missing, and to help the injured and homeless, it places the expertise and network of its member organisations at the disposal of their Haitian colleagues to support their work in assessing the damage to the cultural heritage of their countries including libraries, archives, museums and monuments and sites, and subsequent recovery, restoration and repair measures.

The Blue Shield calls on the international community, responsible authorities and local population to give the fullest possible support to the efforts, official and voluntary, underway to protect/rescue the rich and unique heritage of Haiti.

The member organisations of the Blue Shield are currently liaising with Haitian colleagues, to obtain further information on both the situation in the area and on the possible needs and types of help required so as to mobilise our networks accordingly.

A more complete report on damages, needs and actions will be published subsequently, to facilitate coordination.

The Blue Shield

The Blue Shield is the protective emblem of the 1954 Hague Convention which is the basic international treaty formulating rules to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts. The Blue Shield network consists of organisations dealing with museums, archives, audiovisual supports, libraries, monuments and sites.

The International Committee of the Blue Shield (ICBS), founded in 1996, comprises representatives of the five Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) working in this field:

National Blue Shield Committees have been founded in a number of countries (18 established and 18 under construction). The Association of National Committees of the Blue Shield (ANCBS), founded in December 2008, will coordinate and strengthen international efforts to protect cultural property at risk of destruction in armed conflicts or natural disasters. The ANCBS has its headquarters in The Hague.

Contact Information: secretariat.ICBS@blueshield.museum

The actions of the Blue Shield can also be followed on

Cultural heritage, Disaster relief, Preservation, Haiti

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