Haiti: UN fund to step up support for hurricane survivors

25 October 2008

Survivors of this season's four devastating hurricanes in Haiti will receive a boost from the United Nations fund set up to help in the wake of major disasters, the UN relief chief has announced after visiting the struggling Caribbean country.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes said yesterday that he was willing to make an additional allocation from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to meet urgent needs.

CERF has already allocated $4.3 million to three UN aid agencies and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), but that was more than a month ago.

Haiti remains in desperate need of support after four hurricanes and tropical storms – Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike – lashed the country between mid-August and mid-September, killing nearly 800 people and affecting an estimated 1 million people.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that only $24.8 million has been received of the $106 million requested by aid agencies to help with relief and recovery efforts.

During his two-day visit to Haiti, which ended yesterday, Mr. Holmes met with President Rene Préval, Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis, other senior Government officials and numerous Haitians who survived the storms.

Mr. Holmes, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, toured the northern seaside city of Gonaïves, considered the hardest-hit city. Living conditions inside Gonaïves have been made more difficult by large volumes of stagnant water and mud.

The Under-Secretary-General stressed the need to help Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere even before these storms, make a well-managed transition from relief to reconstruction and development.

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