Ban Ki-moon in­spects Mat­thew’s damage in Hai­ti

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

HAI­TI - The UN chief has vi­si­ted vic­tims of de­vasta­ting Hur­ri­ca­ne Mat­thew, saying the de­struc­ti­on wrought by the storm is “heart­brea­king”. Du­ring Sa­tur­day’s trip, Ban Ki-moon re­ne­wed a pled­ge to help the na­ti­on co­pe with a dead­ly scour­ge of cho­le­ra that was in­tro­du­ced by UN pea­ce­kee­pers af­ter an earth­qua­ke in 2010.

Ban’s brief vi­sit ca­me as vic­tims of the storm con­ti­nued to ex­press frus­tra­ti­on - so­me­ti­mes vi­o­lent­ly - at de­lays in aid about a week-and-a-half sin­ce Mat­thew hit sou­th­west Hai­ti with 235km per hour (kph) winds, kil­ling at least 546 pe­o­p­le and dem­o­lis­hing or da­ma­ging tens of thou­sands of ho­mes.

“I met so ma­ny dis­pla­ced per­sons, young pe­o­p­le, wo­men who we­re preg­nant and sick pe­o­p­le. It was heart­brea­king,” he said, de­scri­bing his tour of an emer­g­en­cy shel­ter in the to­wn of Les Cay­es pack­ed with fa­mi­lies who­se ho­mes we­re de­st­roy­ed.

Short­ly be­fo­re Ban’s he­licop­ter was due to land in Les Cay­es, a clash bro­ke out bet­ween rock-thro­wing re­si­dents and pea­ce­kee­pers at a UN ba­se the­re. Rough­ly 100 frus­tra­ted re­si­dents be­gan hur­ling rocks when trucks fer­rying food aid ar­ri­ved. Hai­ti­an po­li­ce of­fi­cers and UN pea­ce­kee­pers scat­te­red the group with tear gas. Calm was res­to­red as Ban’s he­licop­ter ap­pro­a­ched. At the clo­se of his rough­ly 4.5hour stop in Hai­ti, Ban said at Port-au-Prin­ce’s air­port that a cho­le­ra-fo­cu­sed trust fund an­noun­ced in re­cent weeks was part of the UN’s “new ap­pro­ach” to hel­ping Hai­ti­an fa­mi­lies who lost lo­ved on­es sin­ce the wa­ter­bor­ne di­sea­se was in­tro­du­ced here in Oc­to­ber 2010 - an out­break that has been ag­gra­va­ted by the hur­ri­ca­ne. The UN said the fund is de­sig­ned to help Hai­ti over­co­me cho­le­ra and build stron­ger wa­ter, sa­ni­ta­ti­on and he­alth sys­tems. The­re has long been ample evi­den­ce that cho­le­ra was in­tro­du­ced to the na­ti­on’s big­gest ri­ver by in­a­de­qua­te­ly tre­a­ted se­wa­ge from a UN pea­ce­kee­ping ba­se about 10 months af­ter Hai­ti’s de­vasta­ting earth­qua­ke. But the UN on­ly ack­now­led­ged in Au­gust, fol­lo­wing a leak­ed in­ter­nal re­port, that it play­ed a role in in­tro­du­cing cho­le­ra to Hai­ti and vo­wed to aid vic­tims in the im­po­ve­ris­hed Ca­rib­bean na­ti­on, which has ex­pe­rien­ced the worst out­break of the di­sea­se in re­cent his­to­ry.

Farhan Haq, UN de­pu­ty spo­kes­man, said that that “the Uni­ted Na­ti­ons has a mo­ral res­pon­si­bi­li­ty to the vic­tims”. UN of­fi­ci­als at one point said they we­re see­king about $181m for the spe­ci­al fund, but Ban men­ti­o­ned no fi­gu­res on Sa­tur­day as he vo­wed to help the fa­mi­lies of vic­tims and “most of all pre­vent and stop this cho­le­ra epi­de­mic” by mo­bi­li­sing mo­re UN re­sour­ces. Ban ex­pres­sed dis­ap­point­ment, howe­ver, that in­ter­na­ti­o­nal fun­ding to fight cho­le­ra in Hai­ti and re­build af­ter Mat­thew is so far fal­ling far short. Ban de­par­ted Hai­ti for Ecu­a­dor’s ca­pi­tal of Qui­to in a UN jet on Sa­tur­day eve­ning.


UN chief Ban Ki-moon vi­sits a school that has been tur­ned in­to a shel­ter for the dis­pla­ced. (Photo: lex­

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