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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Obama: US to Continue Push for Democracy, Rights in Cuba

A White House statement said although past US policy toward Cuba is 'rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect'
More

US-Cuba Move Ends Decades of Island's Isolation

Cuban revolution, outreach to Soviets set off years of antipathy between Washington, Havana
More

Colombia's FARC Rebels Declare Conditional Unlimited Ceasefire

Group says it is also demanding high-profile certification of its ceasefire through the UN, Red Cross or regional intergovernmental organization
More

American Lawmakers, Others Split on US-Cuba Moves

Some praise approach; Florida Senator Rubio denounces ‘victory for oppressive Cuban government’
More

An Elated Alan Gross: 'It's Good to be Home'

'This is a game changer,' newly-freed political prisoner tells audience, referring to his release and the US policy shift toward Cuba
More

Over $6 Trillion Lost to Illicit Flows

Study says developing nations hurt by corruption, tax evasion
More