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Access To Humanitarian Aid Throughout Haiti Urged

Security Council Calls For Access To Humanitarian Aid Throughout Haiti

The United Nations Security Council called today for "safe and unimpeded humanitarian access" to vulnerable people in Haiti after the breakdown in law and order there necessitated emergency international assistance to help stabilize the volatile country.

After a closed-door meeting, the 15-member Council "stressed the importance of a Flash Appeal to be made on behalf of Haiti next week, both in Port-au-Prince and New York, and urged generous and timely international support," Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, which holds the body's monthly rotating presidency for March, said in a press statement.

The Council noted updated information on the deployment of the Multinational Interim Force (MIF) in Haiti, commended the troop contributors and welcomed MIF coordination with the UN Special Adviser for Haiti, Reginald Dumas, the President added.

The Council was briefed by UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, who highlighted the need for emergency food, health care, water and sanitation, noting the critical importance of restoring security as a condition for access to vulnerable Haitians.

Mr. Egeland said he had designated UN Resident Coordinator Adama Guindo the Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti.

"Mr. Guindo has organized a humanitarian coordination group that includes both the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)," he said.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Children's Fund ( UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme ( WFP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA) have sent in emergency staff and plan to send more when security improves, Mr. Egeland said.

"A curfew remains in effect in Port-au-Prince and incidents of looting and shooting have declined. Police officers are returning to duty and they have begun joint patrolling in Port-au-Prince with the Multinational Interim Force," he said. "However, beyond the capital, there is a security vacuum. For instance, in Fort Liberté, the recently released prisoners were said to be in charge of security."

Looking to the broader picture, the Emergency Relief Coordinator stressed the need for attention to the root causes of Haiti's plight. "Humanitarian activities can only serve as short-term measures and must be accompanied by a broad set of long-term policies to address the problems of governance and poverty," he said, emphasizing the need for a committed international response.

"This is necessary if we are to prevent Haiti from falling further into an abyss of misery and deprivation," he told the Council.

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