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Top UN officials take part at emergency donor meeting on Haiti

25 January 2010 – Senior United Nations officials are joining foreign ministers from more than a dozen countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other agencies today in Montreal for an emergency donor meeting on Haiti’s future in the wake of this month’s catastrophic earthquake.

The “Friends of Haiti” meeting will focus on coordinating aid to the Caribbean country, where more than 100,000 people were killed and an estimated 3 million people have been severely affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake.

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes and the acting UN representative in Haiti Edmond Mulet are among the high-ranking UN officials taking part in today’s gathering.

“In Montreal, it is important for there to be a commitment to fund all aspects of the flash appeal, including those intended for the early recovery needs of Haiti,” said Miss Clark, referring to the $575 million UN flash appeal for Haiti launched on 15 January, three days after the quake.

As of Friday, $241 million, or roughly 40 per cent, of the funding had been received.

The money is intended to benefit those hardest hit in Haiti, already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced on Saturday that it was now distributing some 2 million meals to Haitians in need.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Miss Clark said that the recovery and reconstruction plan in Haiti will need to rebuild government capacity, public infrastructure, and residential housing in a way that integrates disaster risk management.

“That is what is meant by ‘building back better’, she said.

The inclusion of Haitians in the recovery effort is expected to be a crucial element in the early recovery phase and a theme at today’s meeting.

In Carrefour-Feuilles, a neighbourhood south of the capital, Port-au-Prince, UNDP has launched a cash-for-work programme to provide Haitians with an independent source of income in return for such work as rubble removal or street repairs.

According to UNDP, some 6,000 Haitians are already benefiting from the scheme. The programme could be scaled up to include 220,000 people earning up to $5 per day.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made the cash-for-work programme in Haiti a priority and outlined $40 million for its development. He said the programme would provide a sense of hope to the people involved, and contribute to public safety.

Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has released figures showing that an increasing number of people are leaving Port-au-Prince. More than 130,000 people had taken advantage of the Government’s offer of free transportation to cities in the north and southwest.

The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) estimates that the number of people leaving cities for rural areas could reach 1 million, putting pressure on already vulnerable communities in those areas.

“While we work to support this rebuilding in Port-au-Prince, it will also be important to continue to support economic recovery in those areas of Haiti which were not affected by the earthquake,” Miss Clark said.

On Thursday, Ms. Clark and Bill Clinton, UN Special Envoy to Haiti, will take part in a special session at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland. The session is expected to focus on the private sector’s role in boosting investment to Haiti.



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