UN chief urges against ‘aid fa­tigue’ in dis­as­ter hit Haiti

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon voiced dis­tress Satur­day at the “ab­so­lute dev­as­ta­tion” caused by a deadly hur­ri­cane in Haiti, and dis­ap­point­ment at scant emer­gency aid reach­ing the strug­gling na­tion. “I am dis­ap­pointed by the response of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. I sin­cerely hope and I urge the ma­jor donors to lend their help­ful hand,” Ban said at Port-au-Prince air­port fol­low­ing a he­li­copter over­flight of the hard-hit south­ern re­gions.

Haiti is only just emerg­ing from the dev­as­tat­ing af­ter­math of a Jan­uary 2010 earth­quake that killed more than 200,000 peo­ple. The in­ter­na­tional aid that poured in at the time, poorly co­or­di­nated, be­came a ma­jor fi­asco, with only a frac­tion of the funds reach­ing the vic­tims of the catas­tro­phe. “I know there is some fa­tigue from cer­tain coun­tries, but the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, the cur­rent dis­as­ter that hit this coun­try through Hur­ri­cane Matthew is be­yond de­scrip­tion,” Ban said dur­ing a joint press con­fer­ence with in­terim pres­i­dent Jo­cel­erme Privert.

At least 546 peo­ple were killed, and more than 175,000 peo­ple have lost their homes. Ban said Mon­day that a “mas­sive response” was needed to cope with the de­struc­tion, with 1.4 mil­lion peo­ple in need of ur­gent as­sis­tance after towns and vil­lages were al­most wiped off the map. The United Na­tions has launched a flash ap­peal for $120 mil­lion to help Haiti, the poor­est coun­try in the Western Hemi­sphere, cope with its worst hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis since a dev­as­tat­ing 2010 earth­quake. But so far, only about 12 per­cent of the needed funds has been raised to help stave off famine and se­ri­ous health crises, in­clud­ing cholera.

‘Very, very sad’

Privert, the in­terim leader, called for longterm sup­port from al­lies. “There will al­ways be hur­ri­canes, there will al­ways be catas­tro­phes. We need con­crete ac­tions to mit­i­gate the dam­age from the next hur­ri­canes that have not hit yet,” Privert said. Ear­lier, Ban vis­ited Les Cayes, one of the worst affected by Hur­ri­cane Matthew when it crashed ashore on Oc­to­ber 4, pack­ing winds of 145 miles (230 kilo­me­ters) per hour.

“I was very, very sad when we saw the com­plete dev­as­ta­tion. But peo­ple the world over stand with you,” the UN chief said, speak­ing in French. “The United Na­tions stands by your side. We will mo­bi­lize all re­sources to help you.” The streets have been cleaned. The branches and tree trunks form mas­sive heaps on the side­walks. Busi­nesses have re­opened.

Ban was warmly re­ceived at Philippe Guer­rier high school, where more than 500 peo­ple are still hud­dled. He spoke with a young man who was wounded, be­fore telling the dis­placed: “kembe fem” in Cre­ole (“hang in there”). “We have been told to leave be­cause school has to start again, but we don’t have any­where to go,” said Aivi Jean-Bar. “They bring us a bit to eat and drink, but that’s not what we need. What we want to know is where we can go to sleep,” the 36-year-old woman shel­ter­ing at the school with her four chil­dren told AFP.

Cholera on the rise

In ad­di­tion to the de­struc­tion of count­less homes and farms, Haitians in the worst-affected ar­eas are deal­ing with a lack of potable wa­ter, which is con­tribut­ing to the spread of dis­ease. Haiti has been plagued for half a dozen years by cholera, which has claimed close to 10,000 lives, de­spite ex­ten­sive ef­forts to com­bat it

The mal­ady was brought to Haiti by UN peace­keep­ers from Nepal, who were help­ing in the af­ter­math of the earth­quake. Of­fi­cials have seen ev­i­dence of a new spike in cholera cases, which prompted the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion last week to an­nounce it was send­ing an ad­di­tional one mil­lion doses of vac­cine to Haiti. The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, mean­while, agreed ear­lier this week to ex­tend MINUSTAH’s stay un­til April of next year to help com­bat the myr­iad crises in the af­ter­math of Matthew. The hur­ri­cane also prompted elec­tion of­fi­cials to push back al­ready de­layed pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions un­til Novem­ber 20. The elec­tions are a do-over after an ear­lier vote had to be an­nulled be­cause of vi­o­lence and mas­sive fraud. — AFP

LES CAYES: Mem­bers of an evan­gelic church at­tend church dam­aged by Hur­ri­cane Matthew, in the com­mune of Roche-a-Bateaux. — AFP

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