Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haitian leadership vital to post-quake response – UN relief officials

UN News Centre Home
26 January 2010 – Haitians must have leadership of the post-earthquake recovery process, top United Nations humanitarian officials stressed today as they reported that aid agencies are making important progress in reaching people affected by the disaster.

Significant steps forward are being made in the areas of water and food distribution, among others, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes told reporters in New York.
But he added that “we are conscious it's a very long way to go to get to all the people in need with basic items.”
The World Food Programme (WFP) said that it has reached almost 450,000 people with nearly 10 million meals since the 12 January earthquake, with more food set to arrive.
Mr. Holmes, who also serves as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, pointed out that the availability of medical supplies remains a problem, even as emergency health operations are starting to slow down. “There is an issue of where people are going to go to recover from their injuries,” especially given the large number of amputees.
Shelter remains a major priority, he stressed. Haitian President René Préval has estimated that 200,000 family-sized tents may be needed to shelter those made homeless from the quake, and the UN official stressed today that talks are under way today to determine what kinds of camps should be set up where.
Currently, there are 40,000 tents already in Haiti , but many more are needed, with some 800,000 to 1 million people already having organized themselves into temporary shelters.
The $575 million UN flash appeal for Haiti launched on 15 January, three days after the quake, is only 49 per cent funded, Mr. Holmes announced, expressing concern that certain crucial sectors – including early recovery – remain underfunded.
Senior UN officials and foreign ministers from over one dozen nations converged in Montreal yesterday for a “Friends of Haiti” meeting to discuss Haiti 's future.
There was wide agreement among the participants “on the kind of process we now need to start” before a donors' conference slated to be held in March at UN Headquarters in New York , said Mr. Holmes, who attended yesterday's meeting.
Those taking part underscored the importance of Haitian ownership of the recovery process, as well as the need to plan ahead for the post-recovery stage of rebuilding the impoverished country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
Also identified as vital at the Montreal summit is “the restoration of national authority after the disruption by the earthquake,” as well as “getting people back to work as quickly as possible,” Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said today.
The agency has launched a cash-for-work programme to provide Haitians with an independent source of income – $5 a day – in return for such work as rubble removal, street repairs and aid distribution.
By the end of this week, UNDP hopes that 10,000 people will be involved the scheme, ultimately being scaled up to include 220,000 people, indirectly benefiting 1 million others.
The scheme “builds security” as well as “a sense of hope,” Mr. Ryan underscored.
Prior to the catastrophic earthquake, Haiti was making tremendous strides and now the country has the opportunity to “build back better” and push ahead with the democratic renewal that was already under way prior to the tremors, he said.
Lessons learned from the international response to previous disasters have been applied in Haiti, the UNDP official said, adding that “there is the sense that we have an opportunity to be ruthless in terms of rooting out duplication by having a much more coordinated effort” on the ground.
Edmond Mulet, the Secretary-General's acting Special Representative to Haiti , proposed a new way to coordinate relief efforts in Haiti to ensure that aid reaches those who need it at yesterday's Montreal gathering.
The plan seeks to coordinate and integrate the political, humanitarian and military facets of the international response to the quake – which has killed more than 100,000 people and severely affected an estimated 3 million others – and the Joint Operation and Tasking Centre started operating today, bringing together the UN, the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the US Army and the Canadian Army.
“There is a lot of talk about coordination, but the fact that there's a need for it and a lot of talk for it doesn't make it easy to accomplish on the ground,” Anthony Banbury, acting Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for MINUSTAH, told reporters in New York via videolink from the capital, Port-au-Prince, yesterday.
Coordination is complicated by the number of people working on the ground, many new to the country, who have different backgrounds, priorities and perspectives, he said.
“While I think everyone wants to do what's best for the Haitian people and the Haitian Government, really being committed to coordination and being willing to all move in the same direction, that's a true challenge,” Mr. Banbury stressed.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue
Top UN envoy stresses need for global coordination in post-quake Haiti
Shelter a priority for the displaced in Haiti UN radio.

More tents are needed to house the estimated one million people who have been displaced by the earthquake in Haiti
Man setting up shelter in Cite Soleil
John Holmes, the UN Emergency Humanitarian Co-ordinator, told journalists Tuesday that a certain number of tents are already in stock and being distributed, and another 40,000 are on the way.
 But he said the question of tents is linked to camps for the displaced and where they should be located.
"This is something we need to get right, it's not something we can rush into because we'll have to live with the consequences of getting the camps wrong in terms of structures and locations and management, but we want to start that process more systematically as soon as we can. We're very conscious that we'll need probably an intermediate shelter solution as well as tents to deal with the rainy and hurricanes season before people can get back into their own homes or more permanent housing."
Holmes said intensive discussions are underway with the Haitian authorities on locations, since he said it was important to find the right balance between large camps, which are easier to service, and smaller ones which are easier to manage. Meanwhile, Haiti's President Rene Preval estimates 200,000 family-sized tents will be needed to house the displaced.
Diane Bailey, United Nations
(duration: 1'12")
Sound bites
John Holmes, UN humanitarian chief, speaking to journalists at noon briefing
"This is something we need to get right, it's not something we can rush into because we'll have to live with the consequences of getting the camps wrong in terms of structures and locations and management, but we want to start that process more systematically as soon as we can. We're very conscious that we'll need probably an intermediate shelter solution as well as tents to deal with the rainy and hurricanes season before people can get back into their own homes or more permanent housing."

Duration: 23 secs
Women in Haiti get support from the UN population fund

Amid the destruction of the earthquake in Haiti, television cameras caught the miracle of life, as at least two women on Wednesday gave birth in the hard-hit capital Port-au-Prince. The doctors, who helped these women, used safe delivery supplies from UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The chief of UNFPA's Humanitarian Response Branch, Dr. Jemilah Mahmood talks about all the ways the Fund helps women in disasters
UNESCO report finds persisting disparities in access to education
An annual report issued by UNESCO, the UN agency for education, science and culture, warns that the global economic crisis threatens to reverse progress on education and leave behind a "lost generation" of children. The Global Monitoring Report says that 72 million children are still out of school, with girls making up significantly more than half of them.
Kenyan poet raises hard questions about post-election violence
Kenya's contested presidential election of December 2007 led to an eruption of ethnic violence that ended with a power sharing agreement, but not before it took hundreds of lives. IRIN Radio's Louise Tunbridge spoke to a courageous Kenyan woman, who wants to make her country come to terms with what happened two years ago.
Producer: Bissera Kostova
Duration: 14'00"
United Nations Radio

UN mission launches coordination system for Haiti aid
The United Nations mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH is launching a new structure to coordinate the activities of the various actors helping earthquake-hit Haiti.
Acting Deputy Head of MINUSTAH, Anthony Banbury, says the mission is up and running after suffering the horrible blow of losing its leadership, much of its staff and its physical headquarters in the disaster.
The new structure, known as the Joint Operations and Tasking Centre or JOTC, was launched by the acting head of MINUSTAH, Edmond Mullet at an international conference on Haiti, taking place in Montreal, Canada.
Mr. Banbury says the United Nations humanitarian agency, OCHA, will be one of the components of the JOTC.
"The other component will be MINUSTAH military, MINUSTAH police and the MINUSTAH civilian support component, the logistics capabilities of the mission. Also members of the JOTC will be the United States military and the Canadian military. Those are the main operational actors on the ground with OCHA representing the spectrum of humanitarian agencies."
Banbury says the acting director and deputy director have been appointed and the JOTC will be up and functioning 24 hours a day, seven days a week starting on Tuesday.
Diane Bailey, United Nations.
(duration: 1'22")


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