News / Americas

UN Chief Promises to Expedite Aid to Haiti Victims

Ban Ki-moon visited the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, Sunday to assess the current relief effort

United Nations, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon,damage, U.N. Headquarters,Port-au-Prince, 17 Jan 2010
United Nations, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon,damage, U.N. Headquarters,Port-au-Prince, 17 Jan 2010

U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon has promised to expedite the massive humanitarian aid he says is needed to help Haitians stricken by last week's massive earthquake. The secretary-general visited the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, Sunday to assess the current relief effort and express his support to the Haitian people.

Mr. Ban's convoy traveled through several areas of Port-au-Prince Sunday, where broken buildings and shattered lives were on display.

Dozens of makeshift camps have been established in parks, school yards, anywhere there is an open space, to shelter those whose homes were demolished or are too structurally dangerous for them to return to.

The United Nations says one-in-three Haitians is in need of assistance following last Tuesday's massive quake, and another million are homeless. Mr. Ban told Haitians, help is arriving.

"For a small country like Haiti, this is a tsunami like disaster," Mr. Ban said. "This is a major catastrophe, and a huge humanitarian crisis, whose full dimensions we may not even know yet, particularly outside the capital. It requires a correspondingly massive response and help."

The death toll has been estimated in the tens of thousands, but there are also still scores of people missing.

The United Nations, which has some 12,000 personnel in Haiti as part of its stabilization mission, has confirmed the deaths of more than 40 staff. Among them, the chief of the mission and his deputy. 

But on Sunday, there was a glimmer of hope that miracles can still happen.

An American search and rescue team working at the collapsed headquarters of the U.N. mission discovered Jens Kristensen, a civil affairs officer, buried in the rubble. They worked for hours to slowly shift the debris that trapped him, and at 2 p.m. (local time) he was pulled out alive.

The rescue happened just moments after Mr. Ban visited the site where most of the U.N. losses occurred. He spoke with rescuers and U.N. staff and then accepted the flag that had been flying at headquarters the day the quake struck. It will be displayed at U.N. headquarters in New York as a memorial to the fallen colleagues.

Search and rescue missions continue throughout Port-au-Prince. Some of the more than two dozen international teams that have arrived in Haiti could be seen working at sites of other collapsed buildings in search of survivors.

Mr. Ban assessed the physical breadth of the destruction from both the ground and air, using a helicopter to get an aerial view.

Journalists accompanying him also got a look at the widespread devastation.

Damage could be seen in neighborhoods with tightly packed houses and in slums along the hills of the capital. Some houses had collapsed with a domino-effect.  Others had slightly toppled over to one side, while some had slid down hills. Many had collapsed on themselves.

At the city's Cathedral, only two partial walls remain. Nearby, the Presidential Palace is uninhabitable. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's office is so damaged that neighbors have turned the garden into a camp.

Long gas lines could be seen at the few functioning stations and garbage was piling up across the city.  Access to basic services is still severely limited and people are depending on food aid to survive. Concerns are growing that a frustrated, hungry and exhausted populace could turn violent.

On Monday, officials said the Secretary-General will ask the U.N. Security Council to temporarily authorize an additional 850 peacekeepers and 400 police for the Haiti mission, to assist with the humanitarian effort and deter instability.

As one U.N. official put it, "things were slowly improving here, and then the bottom dropped out of Haiti's world." 

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Ambassador Calls for LGBT Rights

John Berry spoke at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
More

China's Xi Praises Close Ties with Cuba

Head of China's Communist Party hails common socialist bond between his country and Cuba as he kicks off a state visit in Havana
More

US Judge Orders Argentina, Creditors to Reach Deal

Lawyers for investors who declined to restructure bonds after country defaulted on about $100B in 2002 warned that time running out to reach a deal, avert fresh default
More

Trial Imminent for Detained Venezuelan Protest Leader Lopez

Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, says outside pressure needed on Venezuelan president to move case forward
More

Sex Workers Seek HIV Prevention

The Lancet publishes new series on HIV
More

Texas Gov. Perry Orders State National Guard to Border

Governor says he took extraordinary measure to help secure the border, his critics say it is a political stunt
More