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UN rushing aid to Haiti following deadly tremors

13 January 2010 – The United Nations is mobilizing its resources in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday, sending its experts and supplies such as food to victims of the massive tremors in the Caribbean nation.

Josette Sheeran, who heads the UN World Food Programme (WFP), said that the agency is already deploying its resources in Haiti and is airlifting an additional 86 metric tons of food – enough for half a million emergency meals – from its emergency hub in El Salvador.

Additionally, WFP will provide ready-to-eat food and high-energy biscuits for those who cannot access cooking facilities following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake which has severely damaged the capital, Port-au-Prince.

“We will work with the Haitian Government, with our humanitarian partners on the ground, and with governments across the world as part of a coordinated international rescue and recovery effort,” Ms. Sheeran said in a statement.

For its part, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) is spearheading the health response to the earthquake.

Immediate health priorities include finding survivors pinned under rubble, treating people with major injuries and the provision of clean water and sanitation, the agency noted.

WHO is helping to collect data on the health impact of the earthquake and is also deploying a 12-member team comprising experts in mass casualty management, coordination of emergency health response and the management of dead bodies.

With buildings and infrastructure in Port-au-Prince having suffered extensive damage, “there is no doubt that we are facing a major humanitarian emergency and that a major relief effort will be required,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters this morning in New York. Expressing gratitude to nations rushing aid to the earthquake’s victims, he called for the world to “come to Haiti’s aid in this hour of need.”

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