Press Releases

UNIS/INF/354
18 January 2010

In Haiti, Secretary-General Vows Support for Quake Victims

VIENNA, 18 January (UN Information Service) - The Secretary-General is expected to brief the Security Council today on his visit to the capital of Haiti which was devastated by last week's catastrophic earthquake. On Sunday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated the United Nations' support for the victims of the disaster. The UN "will continue to stand behind the Haitian people," Mr. Ban said in Port-au-Prince, the city hardest hit by the 12 January tremors, which are believed to have affected one third of Haiti's 9 million people.

The Secretary-General along with the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes, and other senior UN officials visited the disaster affected areas today and met Haitian President René Préval and other government officials and representatives from the UN Mission in Haiti.

The Secretary-General outlined three top priorities during his visit: the continued need for the search and rescue effort; emergency relief including food, water and tents, and distributing these supplies to those in need by the UN and its partner agencies; and coordination of the emergency operation.

Over 40 teams from around the world comprising nearly 1,800 rescue workers and more than 160 dogs are working tirelessly trying to save survivors trapped under rubble. Search and rescue teams have extracted 13 more live rescues on Saturday bringing the total by these teams to 71 people, a record number for urban search-and-rescue operations following an earthquake. A UN staff member, Jens Kristensen of Denmark, was pulled alive from the rubble of the Christopher Hotel on Sunday.

The Secretary-General visited the destroyed Christopher Hotel, which housed the world body's headquarters in Haiti. Among those who died at the hotel are his Special Representative to Haiti, Hédi Annabi, as well as his Deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa and Acting Police Commissioner Doug Coates of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Humanitarian operations gear up

The World Food Programme is setting up four distribution points in Port-au-Prince to distribute food aid and WFP has already assisted 73,000 people (by 17 January).

The fuel situation is becoming more critical and fuel restrictions are now in place. The airport is heavily congested and not operating at full capacity while the port remains unusable.

At least 20,000 tents and shelter material are urgently needed for temporary shelter sites in the coming week and only 3-4,000 are already in the country.

Appeal for donations: heart-warming response

On Friday the UN and its partners launched an appeal for nearly US$600 million to help the victims of the earthquake, which has left basic services on the brink of collapse in Port-au-Prince.

The funds are intended to assist an estimated 3 million affected people over a period of six months, with half of the funds being earmarked for emergency food aid, with the rest targeted at health, water, sanitation, nutrition, early recovery, emergency education and other key needs.

The UN relief web website published regular updates on pledges and contributions to the Haiti appeal.

Online donations

Several United Nations organizations and affiliated entities are accepting donations online and these includes: United Nations Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF); UN Foundation; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees ( UNHCR); the United Nations Children's Fund ( UNICEF); and the World Food Programme ( WFP).

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For further information, contact:

Maher Nasser
Director, UNIS Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5676
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459 5676
E-mail: maher.nasser@unvienna.org
Internet: www.unis.unvienna.org