Urgent action is required to respond to the =A8worst disaster in the last 100 years=A8 to strike Haiti, said the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, John Holmes, warning that aid agencies remain far short of the millions they need to help the country recover from four hurricanes.
Mr. Holmes described the situation in Gonaives as =A8dramatic and grim=A8. Water had receded from most of the city, but people still had to deal with large amounts of mud. The main streets had been cleared, but thousands of people were still in shelters, mainly schools. The conditions in those shelters were not good. People were returning to the city, but could not live in their houses.
He said that of the initial Flash Appeal of $107 million USD, 40 per cent had been pledged. That is not enough. A revised appeal would be submitted in the coming weeks, and a post-disaster needs assessment was underway. The most urgent needs at the moment are food, clean water and sanitation, and shelters. Because local authorities were anxious to reopen the schools, people sheltered there should be moved elsewhere. The response in medical care had been reasonably good, and there had not been any epidemics, he added.
Mr. Holmes said that an additional allocation from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) would be released for Haiti on top of the $5.1 million USD allocated over a month ago, bringing CERF funding to $9 million USD.
The hurricanes in Haiti had provided a clear =A8disaster risk reduction message=A8, Mr. Holmes said, stressing the need for an early warning system, watershed management, reinforcement of river banks and reforestation. One should also look at relocating those people who lived below sea level in Gonaives. All of that would necessitate hundreds of millions of dollars, but such a major investment would be worthwhile, as it would reduce the need for money in future disasters. Such an injection of money for labor-intensive projects would also boost Haiti=B4s economy and prevent the country from sliding further into poverty.
Update on relief efforts:
Shelter and Non-Food Items: As pressure mounts for re-opening of schools in Gonaives, a rapid assessment has taken place in schools being used as shelters, to assess the shelter needs of the displaced. A distribution of shelter repair kits is planned to take place.
Agriculture: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has announced an agreement to provide Haiti with a $10 million USD package to help boost the country's agricultural sector, whose harvest was decimated by the recent hurricanes.
Food: WFP has distributed over one million food rations to 572,119 direct beneficiaries affected by the disaster in nine departments of the country. WFP continues to airlift food commodities with its three helicopters to beneficiaries in locations inaccessible by road.
Logistics: The Norwegian Red Cross has donated 6x6 trucks to WFP to strengthen its logistic capacity in the country. A total of 23 trucks have reached Port-au-Prince and some 23 additional trucks are expected to arrive soon. The deployment of these trucks will increase WFP transport capacity tremendously.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.