Press Releases

    18 January 2010

    Space Tools Help Relief Efforts in Haiti

    VIENNA, 18 January (UN Information Service) - The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is using space tools to support international relief efforts in Haiti following last week's devastating earthquake. Immediately after the earthquake had struck Haiti on 12 January 2010, UNOOSA started to coordinate and disseminate space data, including space-derived images and maps of the affected areas.

    The massive damage to the local infrastructure in Haiti make satellite images and maps vital to assess damage and plan the relief work. For example, those images can be used by humanitarian relief workers on the ground to identify accessible roads and suitable areas to set up relief facilities.

    UNOOSA Director, Mazlan Othman, expressed her heartfelt condolences to the people of Haiti, saying: "We offer our deepest sympathy to all those affected by this tragic event. The devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti is massive and through use of space-based information we are helping the disaster relief efforts. High-resolution imagery now provide an indispensable means to assess damages caused by disasters. Through its use, relief agencies can then allocate desperately needed resources more efficiently, avoiding duplicative efforts in the same areas and identifying gaps."

    The United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER), implemented by UNOOSA and established by the General Assembly, operates a 24-hour service to provide fast and efficient access to space-based information in the event of a disaster.

    Over the weekend, the United Nations Cartographic Section (UNCS) has established a Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Operations Centre to support the disaster relief operations in Haiti and to the GIS Unit of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
    UN-SPIDER provides also technical support to this Centre.

    The up-to-date information in support for disaster response efforts in Haiti is available in the SpaceAid section of the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal.

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    For further information, please contact:

    Juan Carlos Villagran
    Programme Officer, UNOOSA/UN-SPIDER
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4158
    UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal: