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UN: Unhindered Humanitarian Access Urged in Haiti

UN Urges Unhindered Humanitarian Access To Haiti's North

The United Nations is calling for a humanitarian corridor to be established in Haiti to allow aid workers access to the country's north, which has been cut off for days because of the violence convulsing the Caribbean nation's cities.

Haiti's three main northern cities - Cap-Haïtien, Port-de-Paix and Fort Liberté - are largely out of reach of humanitarian assistance since armed insurgents last week seized control of the central and strategically significant city of Gonaïves.

At a press conference in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, the UN's Resident Coordinator Adama Guindo also called for the sanctity of hospitals to be respected.

The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA) reported today that several hospitals have been targeted by protesters and Port-au-Prince's university hospital has not operated "for several weeks."

In a statement OCHA added that the functioning hospitals are over-stretched and that many lack such essentials as a water supply, blood banks, refrigeration and drugs.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has also reported that schools are only opening intermittently during the current political crisis and many teachers have deserted their posts.

An inter-agency mission from the UN has been in Haiti since Sunday to assess how best to respond to the humanitarian dimension of the violence gripping the country in recent weeks. Dozens of people have been killed during clashes between opponents and supporters of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

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