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United Nations Daily Highlights, 10-01-13

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

ARCHIVES

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON

BRIEFING

BY MARTIN

NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SECRETARY-GENERAL: U.N. IS HELPING TO MAINTAIN ORDER, ASSISTING IN RELIEF EFFORTS FOLLOWING HAITI EARTHQUAKE

The Secretary-General this morning

spoke to the press about UN efforts to deal with the earthquake in Haiti, saying that his heartfelt sympathies went to the victims of the earthquake.

Information on the full extent of the damage is still scanty, he said. Initial reconnaissance and aerial assessments have been undertaken. It is now clear that the earthquake has had a devastating impact on the capital, Port-au-Prince. The remaining areas of Haiti appear to be largely unaffected.

The Secretary-General said that buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged throughout the capital. Basic services such as water and electricity have collapsed almost entirely.

Meanwhile, he said, the UN Headquarters at the Christopher Hotel collapsed in the quake. Many people are still trapped inside.

The UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) has around 3,000 troops and police in and around Port-au-Prince to help maintain order and assist in relief efforts. MINUSTAH engineers have also begun clearing some of the main roads in Port-Au-Prince which will allow assistance and rescuers to reach those in need.

The Secretary-General said that he will dispatch Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet to Haiti as soon as possible.

The UN is also mobilizing an emergency response team to help coordinate humanitarian relief efforts, which will be on the ground shortly. The United Nations will immediately release $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

In response to a question on whether the Secretary-General would travel to Haiti, he said that he is willing to visit Haiti as early as is practicable.

U.N. MISSION WORKING ON RESCUE OPERATIONS WHILE DAMAGE TO PORT-AU-PRINCE IS EVALUATED

According to the UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the earthquake has caused major damage in the Port-au-Prince area, as well as in Jacmel. The National Palace, the Cathedral, the Ministry of Justice and other important Government offices have been destroyed. Hotels, hospitals, schools and the national penitentiary have all suffered extensive damage.

Casualties, which are vast, can only be estimated. An unknown number tens if not hundreds of thousands have suffered varying degrees of destruction to their homes.

Haitians, fearful of houses collapsing on them or of a second earthquake, slept in the streets of Port-au-Prince last night. Electricity supplies have been interrupted. Water is in short supply. Some major transportation routes have been severely disrupted by surface cracks, rocks and boulders, fallen trees and smashed cars.

Both the Government of Haiti and the UN in Haiti have appealed for immediate and extensive relief supplies and assistance, including search and rescue capacity and medical personnel.

A team of search and rescue experts from China arrived today to assist MINUSTAHs efforts.

Other UN offices have also been damaged, and 10 people are missing from the UNDP compound that houses UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNIFEM, WFP, OCHA and UNEP.

UN personnel seriously injured in the earthquake were evacuated from all sites overnight to UN medical facilities near the airport, which remains operational.

Other search and rescue teams are reported to be arriving from Guadeloupe and the Dominican Republic and the United States. They will be deployed to major Government buildings, hotels and hospitals.

UN soldiers and police are helping to maintain law and order, as well as assisting with rescue operations.

While the earthquake was felt as far afield as Les Cayes in the southwest and Gonaives to the north, little destruction has been reported in far-flung areas of the country. However, in the capital region, destruction is massive and broad, while Haitian services are visibly unable to cope.

Staff from the UN agencies, funds and programmes and from MINUSTAHs offices at Hotel Christopher have regrouped at the missions logistics base, attached to the Port-au-Prince airport, where they continue to coordinate and support the incoming international relief effort.

U.N. AGENCIES MOBILIZE ASSISTANCE FOR HAITI

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that

immediate health priorities in Haiti include search and rescue of survivors trapped underneath rubble plus the treatment of people with major trauma injuries. Other priorities are: the prevention of the infection of wounds, the provision of clean water and sanitation and ensuring breast-feeding is continued. WHO says that control of communicable diseases, such as diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections, will be another major concern in coming days.

In addition, WHO is deploying a 12-member team of health and logistics experts. The WHO experts being sent include specialists in mass casualty management, coordination of emergency health response and the management of dead bodies.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is

mobilising all available resources to provide urgently needed food assistance as part of a swift and coordinated recovery effort. WFP is immediately airlifting an additional 86 metric tons of food from its emergency hub in El Salvador, which will provide more than half a million emergency meals.

In the initial stages of this crisis, WFP will be providing significant quantities of ready-to-eat food that can be consumed immediately by those who have no access to cooking facilities. High-energy biscuits will also be distributed to those who have lost their homes and can no longer feed themselves.

UNICEF says that it is clear that the

consequences of the earthquake are severe and many children are among the victims. UNICEF is deploying necessary supplies to the affected areas as quickly as possible to assist with recovery efforts, including clean water and sanitation, therapeutic foods, medical supplies and temporary shelter.

SECRETARY-GENERAL EMPHASIZES IMPORTANCE OF COOPERATION WITH REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

Speaking to the UN

Security Council today, the Secretary-General said that this weeks retreat with the heads of regional organizations on how to coordinate efforts has provided food for thought and specific ideas for strengthening cooperation.

He said that the participants at the retreat have identified areas where there is room for improvement, including coordination and communication between their respective inter-governmental bodies and secretariats.

Among other things, he said, they discussed the need for better clarity in mediation arrangements; the right balance between flexibility and efficiency in peacekeeping deployments; the importance of ensuring that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need in a timely manner; and the need to increase cooperation on peacebuilding.

U.N. REPORT SAYS 2009 WAS DEADLIEST YEAR FOR CIVILIANS IN AFGHANISTAN SINCE FALL OF TALIBAN

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in conjunction with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), today called on all sides of Afghanistans conflict to uphold their obligations under international law and minimize the impact of fighting on civilians.

New

statistics released by the UN mission showed that 2009 proved to be the deadliest year yet for civilians since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. The UN Mission recorded 2,412 civilian casualties during 2009, up by 14 per cent from 2008 when the mission recorded 2,118 civilian deaths. Of the 2,412 deaths reported last year, 1,630 (67%) were attributed to anti-Government elements while 596 (25%) were attributed to pro-Government forces.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

REPORT ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE TO BE AVAILABLE: For the Thursday launch of the State of the World's Indigenous Peoples, hard copies of the report and press materials are available at the UN Media Documents Counter. Both the report and materials are under embargo until 1400 EDT (New York time) on 14 January. For electronic copies, please contact Renata Sivacolundhu on 212 963 2932 or sivacolundhu@un.org.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162

Fax. 212-963-7055


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