NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–22 October 2010 – Despite the achievements of aid agencies following January’s devastating earthquake in Haiti, the relief effort must continue through 2011, a senior United Nations humanitarian official said yesterday.
“We can be proud of what the humanitarian community has accomplished, together with the Haitian people and the Government,” said Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg, who just wrapped up a three-day visit to the impoverished Caribbean nation.
“The humanitarian objective – to provide life-saving aid – has been met,” she stressed.
The country continues to rebuild in the wake of the devastating January earthquake, which killed an estimated 200,000 people and displaced about 1.3 million others. Countless buildings, including Government facilities, hospitals and schools, were also destroyed.
Every day, more than 6,000 cubic metres of water are delivered to 1.1 million people, and widespread malnutrition has been avoided, with 4.3 million people having received food rations in the past 10 months. In addition, over 1.5 million people have been given emergency shelter.
During her visit, Ms. Bragg held talks with Government officials, local authorities and aid workers from camp committee organizations, as well as with local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN officials.
In four camps she visited in and around the hard-hit capital, Port-au-Prince, she saw first-hand the overcrowded conditions that residents must endure.
“This situation is not acceptable,” the official stressed. “I admire the strength and courage of the Haitian people living in these conditions, and pledge that we will do everything possible to help.”
At the Tabarre Issa and Montpellier sites, which are often cited as model camps, she saw much-improved transitional shelters that are already accommodating 80,000 people across Haiti. An additional 15,500 are slated to be erected.
With many Haitians still living in poor conditions, not only in camps, but in the remains of their destroyed homes, a sizeable aid operation will be necessary well into 2011, Ms. Bragg underlined.
She also emphasized the need for speeding up early recovery efforts. “Only then can an exit strategy for humanitarian actors be envisaged. This is why it has to happen as soon as possible – so that people can leave the camps and return to their homes and communities.”