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Haiti: top UN relief official calls on donors to finance $100 million appeal

Haiti: top UN relief official calls on donors to finance $100 million appeal

UNFPA staff and volunteers assemble hygiene kits for Haitian women living in shelters
The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today urged Member States and donors to urgently fund the $100 million appeal launched earlier this week to alleviate the plight of some 800,000 people in storm-stricken Haiti.

“We're hoping very much that donors will respond generously [to the Flash Appeal] despite all the other demands on them because the situation is dire,” John Holmes told reporters in New York.

“Many, many hundreds of thousands of people are in need of emergency aid very quickly. The delivery of that is very difficult so we need rapid funding,” added Mr. Holmes, who is also Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

A series of storms have battered Haiti in the last three weeks, killing at least 328 people and leaving a trail of devastation across the tiny Caribbean nation.

A vast majority of the population were already facing extreme hardship before the recent disasters had inflicted Haiti, with rocketing food prices and 53 per cent of people living on less than $1 per day.

Some 50,000 people in Gonaïves alone are still in temporary shelters and around 80,000 displaced persons all over the country are lacking many basic needs, such as food, shelter and sanitation.

“The situation is extremely difficult. Access remains a problem in much of the country because of the damage to the roads. We're doing our best to compensate for that by access from sea and by air, including help from the [UN] peacekeeping force, MINUSTAH, in Haiti,” added Mr. Holmes.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that the crisis-affected population includes some 24,000 pregnant women, many of whom need basic antenatal care and support in case of complications before or during birth.

UNFPA is requesting $1.5 million as part of the larger UN appeal to fund emergency obstetric care, medical supplies and skilled medical professionals to ensure safe births, given that some 8,000 women are due to deliver in the next three months.

The funds will also go towards protecting women and girls affected by the disaster against exploitation and all forms of violence. UNFPA also plans to provide food and essential non-food relief items to marginalized groups, especially those living with HIV and disabilities, while monitoring human rights violations.

For its part, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and partners need $4.2 million of the funds to provide urgent health care to the 800,000 affected by damaged and disrupted health services. Women make up more than half of those affected, and children 36 per cent, according to a statement from WHO.

“Flooding has severely affected several Haitian health facilities, such as hospitals in Gonaïves, Port de Paix and Les Cayes as well as various health centres,” said WHO.

“There are shortages of drugs, including insulin and anaesthetics, and small surgical materials.”

“The storms have also threatened the security of food supplies, which in turn increases the nutritional risks for the population,” the agency added.

Also included in the Flash Appeal is $34 million for emergency food assistance, $14 million for shelter and non-food relief, $19 million for the early recovery projects, $18 million for logistical support, $11 million for agriculture and over $3 million for water and sanitation.