Haiti in desperate need of socio-economic development, stresses UN envoy

10 October 2008
Hédi Annabi, Special  Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti

The recovery and humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti – an impoverished country devastated recently by four successive storms in as many weeks – will not succeed unless the international community addresses the nation’s social and economic crisis, a senior United Nations official stressed today.

The Caribbean country needs major reconstruction and development work to recreate basic infrastructure, Hédi Annabi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Haiti, told a news conference in New York.

“What happened in Haiti is way beyond the capacity of the Government and the UN,” said Mr. Annabi, who is also the chief of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), referring to the destruction wrought by a series of hurricanes from mid-August to mid-September.

“It is an exceptional situation, which requires an exceptionally large-scale effort if this country is to get back on its feet,” he said.

Mr. Annabi stressed that although UN agencies and MINUSTAH, in collaboration with other humanitarian relief organizations, have made some progress in the recovery process, a colossal effort remained to rehabilitate the country and stabilize its security situation.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) alone has delivered aid to over 700,000 people, but much more than a response to the immediate emergency is needed, he stressed.

“All of these efforts cannot and will not succeed if we do not have parallel to the work of MINUSTAH progress in addressing the socio-economic situation in the country.”

He explained that a peacekeeping operation can help create a secure environment and strengthen rule of law institutions, providing an environment conducive to socio-economic development.

He insisted, however, that the delivery of socio-economic development depended on bi-lateral assistance, multi-lateral donors and international financial agencies.

Mr. Annabi, who is in New York to attend deliberations by the Security Council on the extension on the mandate of MINUSTAH, reported that the four hurricanes had destroyed what little infrastructure Haiti had. They also destroyed houses and crops, and affected the lives of some 800,000 people.

“A poor, hungry and desperate population is simply not compatible with stability and security,” he told the press, while expressing hope that the Security Council will give MINUSTAH another year to continue their work as recommended by the Secretary-General.


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