UNDP sends financial support, experts to Haiti

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has dispatched technical experts and financial support to Haiti in order to accelerate the UN Mission's deployment of relief efforts in the wake of Tuesday's massive earthquake. Search and rescue operations continue at an urgent pace there, where the full extent of casualties and damage remain unknown but are expected to be high. International search experts and cargo planes containing urgently needed supplies have begun touching down, with more on the way, as the UN system begins to assess damages and deploy its emergency response teams to help coordinate humanitarian relief efforts.

UNDP, in its capacity as the coordinator of the UN early recovery team, will work with the Government of Haiti and other partners to assess damages and needs, and devise plans for rebuilding. Immediate responses will include the clearing of rubble and rehabilitating essential social infrastructures, such as street repairs and electricity, to facilitate urgently needed assistance. UNDP will also carry out cash-for-work programmes to jumpstart the local economy.

"The communication system has collapsed and the IT network as well," said Kim Bolduc, the UNDP Haiti Resident Representative. "We are gradually restoring Internet access and the satellite phone system. Distribution of food and water has started today to the most affected populations. We are also looking at shelters, as people are sleeping in the streets for fear of aftershock."

"We will do whatever we can to equip our staff in Haiti with the necessary tools to help the Haitian people on what will be a long road to recovery," UNDP Administrator Helen Clark added. "This is a humanitarian emergency which requires an internationally coordinated relief effort."

Approximately 150 United Nations staff remain unaccounted for, including an estimated 100 who are believed to have been inside the collapsed UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince. Thirty-six staff are confirmed dead and 73 injured. Eight UN staff have been rescued so far, including an Estonian security officer.

The Head of the UN Mission in Haiti, Hédi Annabi, and his deputy Luiz Carlos da Costa remain trapped inside the ruins of the Christopher Hotel, which housed the Mission, MINUSTAH. Assistant Secretary-General and former head of MINUSTAH, Edmond Mulet, landed today in Port-au-Prince to begin directing the UN's immediate emergency response efforts.

"The first 72 hours following an earthquake are of critical importance in terms of locating and extracting survivors, "said the UN Secretary-General. Needs - including medical supplies, food, water, tents and heavy equipment - are both "huge" and "immediate," he added.

"The United Nations is working closely with governments around the world to meet immediate humanitarian needs, and to co-ordinate early recovery consistent with addressing longer term development goals. Haiti will need tremendous support to recover from this terrible disaster," Clark said.

UNDP staff is still being accounted for. With virtually all communications systems down across the country, three UNDP teams have begun the task of walking door-to-door in order to account for missing staff members, according to Bolduc.

Haiti Earthquake
from United Nations Development Programme on Flickr