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Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Saturday, 23 January 2010

Haiti earthquake: BBC starts Creole broadcasts

By Americo Martins
American executive editor, BBC World Service

Child with cup in Haiti
Up-to-date information is vital for the people of Port-au-Prince

The BBC has started broadcasting radio programmes in Creole to earthquake-stricken Haiti.

The programmes are to provide much-needed information to Haitians struggling to deal with the effects of last week's devastating disaster.

Connexion Haiti is a 20-minute daily show, broadcast from 0910 to 0930 local time (1410 to 1430 GMT) on FM in Haiti's six largest towns and cities.

It is also available on satellite and online, and via social media.

Any radio station in Haiti also has free and unlimited access to the programmes.

The show focuses on practical information and public health advice. The aim is to provide a lifeline to the survivors of the tragedy and to try to bring information about missing people.

This is the first time the BBC is broadcasting in Creole, Haiti's national language.

Preparations for the new BBC Creole service launch

The earthquake has seriously disrupted the country's communication system, leaving millions of Haitians without crucial information about aid efforts.

Local radio stations have been doing their best to get news bulletins on air, report on the catastrophe and help families to locate relatives. Radio has always been the most popular form of media in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.

Even stations that did not suffer serious earthquake damage are now having problems keeping their programmes on air, because they can't get enough fuel for their generators.

The lack of information is of serious concern to the UN, and the national government, and is a major obstacle for the aid operation in the country. A significant part of the population still lacks information about where to get help and support.

The new BBC programme is being produced in Miami by a multilingual team assembled especially for this task.

The daily programme is broadcast between 0910 and 0930 Haiti time (1410 to 1430 GMT) on six FM relays on the island: Port-au-Prince 89.3 FM; Cap-Haïtien 105.5 FM; Gonaïves 90.5 FM; Las Cayes 106.9 FM; Jacmel 96.9 FM; and Jérémie 92.7 FM.

It is also broadcast on shortwave to the country and will be available on the Canal Satellite Antilles, Caribbean-wide radio and TV satellite network. Online, people can listen to the show on the BBC Caribbean website: www.bbccaribbean.com



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