UN calls for wholesale rebuilding of Haiti

Dozens of nations and organizations Wednesday pledged almost $10 billion in immediate and long-term aid to help Haiti recover from the recent devastating earthquake, just hours after Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a day-long donors’ conference yesterday in New York by calling for the wholesale rebuilding of the country.

Of that amount more than $5 billion has been pledged for the next 18 months, well above the $3.9 billion sought for that period.

“Today, the international community has come together, dramatically, in solidarity with Haiti and its people,” Mr. Ban said in a closing news conference at UN Headquarters in New York. “Today, the United Nations are united for Haiti,” he said. “Today, we have mobilized to give Haiti and its people what they need most: hope for a new future. We have made a good start, we need now to deliver.”

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1.2 million still homeless two months after Haiti earthquake

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will make a one-day visit to Haiti on Sunday, his second to the Caribbean country since the January 12 earthquake, his spokesperson announced today.

While in the capital, Port-au-Prince, Mr. Ban will meet with President René Préval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, as well as with the leadership of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti and UN agencies working on the ground, Martin Nesirky told reporters.

The Secretary-General will also visit a camp housing some of the estimated 1.2 million people displaced by the 7.0-magnitude quake.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has announced that the $1.44 billion revised humanitarian appeal for Haiti is only 49 per cent funded.

Two months after the earthquake, the humanitarian work is picking up speed, OCHA noted, with more than 4.3 million people having received food assistance, 1.2 million people receiving daily water distributions, and more than 300,000 children and adults vaccinated against a range of infectious diseases, including measles, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

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UN says much progress in Haiti has been overlooked

A top United Nations official in Haiti says not enough media coverage has been devoted to the progress made by Haitians, humanitarian workers and their partners since the devastating earthquake struck nearly six weeks ago.

“It is very easy for example to be interviewed and asked the difficult question ‘why aren’t you doing more?’” Kim Bolduc, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti and UN Humanitarian Coordinator, told UN News.

“It is very important to remind everyone that seldom in our history have we seen such a sizeable type of operation set up within days of the emergency. Everything that has been achieved has been achieved at great sacrifice for people who are still standing in the field and running the operations,” she added. Read the rest of this entry »

Talk of the Nation: How outsiders can help communities in crisis

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA’s National Director Fr. Ken Gavin was on Talk of the Nation (a nationally broadcast program on National Public Radio) yesterday to discuss his recent trip to Haiti. Listen to it here: How Can Outsiders Help Communities In Crisis?

Or you can download/listen to a podcast here:

Fr. Gavin on NPR: “… when we talk about our work in Jesuit Refugee Service, we say that what we do is accompany, serve and advocate or defend the rights of refugees or forcibly displaced people. And that term, accompaniment, as you say, Neal, is incredibly important, because I see it as the envelope out of which all our service and all our advocacy – however important they are – flow from that sense of accompaniment.

And what we mean by that, I think simply, is to be close to the people, to be in solidarity with them, to step into their shoes, to experience their hopes and losses. Our sense of accompaniment comes from that spark of the divine that we recognize in every human person. It comes from our believing that even in the greatest tragedies like Haiti, that our God stands present with people in their suffering.”

Haiti needs immediate global support to grow food

United Nations agencies voiced alarm today at the lack of global support for Haiti’s immediate agricultural needs, such as seed and fertilizers to ensure food from the next planting season, while stressing that disaster mitigation techniques must figure fully in the country’s reconstruction from last month’s devastating earthquake.

“At a time when Haiti is facing a major food crisis we are alarmed at the lack of support to the agricultural component of the Flash Appeal,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf told a high-level meeting in Rome to coordinate UN efforts for the medium- and long-term recovery of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

The $575-million UN appeal launched shortly after the 12 January quake, which killed some 200,000 people, injured many others and left 2 million in need of aid, sought $23 million for immediate agricultural needs. “But only 8 per cent of this sum has so far been funded,” Mr. Diouf said. “The economic and social reconstruction of Haiti requires a revival of food production and massive investment in rural areas.

“The immediate priority is support for the farm season that begins in March and accounts for more than 60 per cent of the country’s food production,” he added, noting that FAO has already started to distribute seeds, fertilizer and tools to enable farmers to plant for the next harvest. Read the rest of this entry »

Dispatches from Haiti II

JRS/USA National Director Fr. Ken Gavin is in Haiti, and shares the following:

Monday, February 8.

Much of my past week has been centered around the Jesuit novitiate in Haiti. The novitiate, located on a large piece of property minutes away from the Port-au-Prince airport, has served as the center for Jesuit relief activities in the capital.

Although not destroyed by the earthquake, the main building received substantial damage that made it dangerous to live in. Many of the Jesuit novices and staff moved into tents after the quake and are still living in a cam-like atmosphere.

Like many of their fellow Haitians, they have had an experience of displacement. These past weeks the large grassy area behind the house has become the home and staging ground for many JRS team members, Jesuit family members, and visiting emergency medical teams from the U.S., Brazil, France and Puerto Rico.

The normal tranquility of novitiate life was transformed overnight into a bustling, economy scale hotel atmosphere. In the evening, after a long day of caring for victims of the earthquake, volunteers would gather together in conversations that transcended the boundaries of language and culture.

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Dispatches from Haiti I

JRS/USA National Director Fr. Ken Gavin is in Haiti, and shares the following:

Thursday, February 4.

This morning we drove to Leogane, a city west of Port-au-Prince almost totally devastated by the January 12 earthquake. Some say the 90% of the town is either rubble or uninhabitable.

On the way there we saw crowds of people gathered at a food distribution center in the capital’s harbor area.

There are reports that many Haitians begin to queue up on food lines at 3 in the morning, waiting for the start of the distribution at 8 a.m. Other groups have been told by agencies that food will be distributed in their neighborhood the next day, only to find out the following morning that no food has been delivered. There are long lines of hungry people whenever trucks of food appear in the neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince.

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