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UN Says Haiti Government Ends Quake Search And Rescue Phase

January 23, 2010

(RFE/RL) -- The UN’s Organization for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says in its latest situation report on relief efforts in Haiti that "the government has declared the search and rescue phase over.”

The United Nations said the Haitian government declared the rescue effort over at 4:00 pm local time (2100 GMT) on January 22.

According to the UN report, international search and rescue teams have pulled at least 132 people out alive from under the rubble.

An 84-year-old woman and 22-year-old man were rescued on January 22 in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, about 10 days after the magnitude 7.0 quake.

More than 100,000 people were killed by the earthquake that rocked the impoverished Caribbean country on January 12. Up to 1.5 million more Haitians have lost their homes.

In Geneva, Margareta Wahlstrom, the UN special envoy for reducing disaster-related risk, said the world must "rebuild a safer Haiti."

News agencies report that the focus of the relief operations is now shifting to helping the homeless. Many Haitians are reportedly moving from the worst hit areas, including the capital, to parts of the island which were not affected by the earthquake.

Fundraising Drive

Meanwhile, many top international stars teamed up overnight to help raise funds for Haiti’s relief programs in an internationally broadcast telethon.

The benefit event was hosted by actor George Clooney and featured Madonna, Coldplay, Sting, and Wyclef Jean.

More than 100 Hollywood and music stars took part in the concert, called “Hope for Haiti Now.” Simultaneously held in Los Angeles, New York, and London, it was shown on all major U.S. television channels, on MTV in Britain, and worldwide on YouTube.

Among the celebrities was former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who has traveled to Haiti since the earthquake. Clinton spoke about the opportunity presented by the efforts to rebuild Haiti.

“What people should know is that these folks have the best chance they've had in my lifetime to escape their history and to build the kind of country that their children deserve,” Clinton said. “And I think if we do this right, that's exactly what will happen.”

Officials in New York have said that the UN's flash appeal for $575 million in emergency relief has generated $334 million in donations and pledges.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was quoted as saying that "seldom in the face of such a disaster has the international community acted in such solidarity, or so quickly in the face of so many difficulties.”

But Haitian President Rene Preval told the Spanish newspaper “El Pais” that aid relief to his country suffered from a "general lack of coordination."

With agency reports


Copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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