Haiti

UN appeals for over half billion dollars for Haiti

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15 Jan 2010 22:59:29 GMT

Source: Reuters

* U.N. launches emergency appeal for $562 million

* Total aid pledges so far amount to $360 million

* U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to visit Haiti shortly (Recasts with launch of U.N. appeal)

By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The United Nations appealed on Friday for more than half a billion dollars for earthquake-ravaged Haiti and said it was already providing aid despite anger among survivors that they are getting nothing.

U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes said the world body was launching a "flash" -- or emergency -- appeal for $562 million from member nations, nearly half of it to be spent on food.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would travel to Haiti, where Tuesday's earthquake killed tens of thousands of Haitians and dozens of U.N. staff.

"I myself will go to Haiti very soon, both to show solidarity with the people of Haiti and our U.N. staff and to assess the situation for myself," Ban told reporters.

Holmes told U.N. ambassadors the basis of the appeal was an assumption that some 3 million Haitians had been badly enough affected by the quake, which mainly hit the capital Port-au-Prince, to need aid for six months.

He said total global pledges of aid for Haiti amounted to some $360 million so far, although only part of that was expected to be included in the emergency appeal. Much of it would be longer-term reconstruction aid and bilateral pledges.

Holmes said the Haiti aid appeal would be revised in three to four weeks once the extent of the damage becomes clearer.

In Port-au-Prince, quake victims were begging on Friday for food, water and medical assistance. Some survivors, angry over the delay in getting aid, built roadblocks with corpses on Thursday in one part of the city.

Holmes said a "massive effort" was being mounted by U.N. and other aid organizations. "We have begun to deliver aid on the ground," he said.

But he acknowledged "this operation is taking longer than anyone would like to get the supplies to people on the streets ... who are in desperate need" -- largely due to damaged infrastructure.

"We're all frustrated and impatient with that," Holmes said.

HAITI 'HAS FUNCTIONING GOVERNMENT'

Haiti's U.N. Ambassador Leo Merores denied what he said were media reports that there was no effective government in the Caribbean nation.

"There is indeed a functional government in Haiti," he told the ambassadors.

Ban gave no exact date for his visit to Haiti but is expected to be among the first foreign dignitaries to go there since the quake. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would go to Haiti on Saturday.

A visit by Ban was seen as inevitable because of the U.N. death toll, the highest in a single incident in the organization's 65-year history.

The latest confirmed toll among U.N. personnel from the quake was 37, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said. Of those, 36 worked for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, and one for the U.N. World Food Program.

Nesirky said there were some 330 U.N. personnel missing or unaccounted for out of roughly 12,000 in Haiti. U.N. officials expect the U.N. death toll to rise to well over 100.

Ban said the world body was focusing on more than its own personnel and was trying to coordinate efforts from the Port-au-Prince airport.

"We are still in the search-and-rescue phase, and we are trying to save as many lives as possible," Ban said.

"A major humanitarian effort is now well underway," he said. "Although it is inevitably slower and more difficult than any of us would wish, we are mobilizing all resources as fast as we possibly can."

U.N. updates on recovery efforts in Haiti can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/UNHaitiInfo (Editing by John O'Callaghan)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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