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Survivors of Haiti's Earthquake in Urgent Need of Tents, Food

Lisa Schlein | Geneva 26 January 2010

United Nations aid agencies say millions of survivors of Haiti's catastrophic earthquake are in urgent need of tents and food. The United Nations also is appealing to donors to convert their pledges of money into cash, which is desperately needed to finance this complex and expensive emergency operation.

The United Nations says it urgently needs 200,000 family tents to shelter one million people displaced by the earthquake before the rainy season begins in April. It says only a fraction of the required tents are in the country.

In the same order of importance is the need for food. The World Food Program says it has delivered three million rations, the equivalent of nearly 10 million meals, to 450,000 people.

But WFP spokeswoman Emilia Casella says that is not enough. She says her agency urgently needs tens of millions of ready-to-eat meals to feed two million people for 15 days.

"Our Executive Director has appealed to all governments, all military around the world to give to us as many ready-to-eat meals as they have on hand, that they can provide to us for Haiti," she said. "The need is extremely urgent and we need them as soon as possible."

Casella says the World Food Program is feeding about 100,000 people a day. Given the enormous needs, she says her agency is making plans to expand its humanitarian operations beyond the six months for which it is budgeted.

She says the agency is in the process of re-evaluating the needs and re-evaluating the increased amounts of money it will need to finance the operation.

The United Nations issued a Flash Appeal for $575 million less than two weeks ago. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says the United Nations has received 48 percent of that amount.

OCHA notes the United Nations also has received contributions and pledges inside and outside of the Flash Appeal for a combined total of more than $740 million.

In addition, it says it has received more than $1 billion in uncommitted pledges. The United Nations is urging donors to convert all pledges into much needed cash in the near future.

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